The former U.S. congressman and perennial presidential candidate tells National Journal that he’s "real pleased" with American secessionist groups.
/p>((Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images))
September 30, 2014 Secessionists across the world were inspired by Scotland’s energetic attempt at independence from the United Kingdom earlier this month. Ron Paul, as it turns out, joined them.
In an essay on his eponymous institution’s website Sunday, the former U.S. congressman from Texas wrote that any supporters of freedom should cheer secessionism because it allows for smaller government—a constant mantra for the libertarian and perennial presidential candidate, who didn’t previously realize there were more than a handful of secessionist groups in the United States.
"I was real pleased with that, and a bit surprised," Paul told National Journal. "But then, on second thought, you think, ‘Why not? Why not more?’ "
Fringe groups calling for states and regions to secede from the U.S., such as the Second Vermont Republic and the Alaskan Independence Party, gained more publicity in the weeks leading up to the Scottish referendum. As the outsized federal government continues to encroach on individual rights, Paul said, he thinks there will be a groundswell of these movements.
"It’s something that I think is going to grow, because the failure of the federal government is going to get much worse," he said. "When the bankruptcy evolves, and maybe some of these pension funds are confiscated, and the wars never end, and bankruptcy comes forth, people [will say], ‘Hey, we’re getting a bad deal from this. Why don’t we leave?’ "
He added: "I think it’s inevitable people wanting to leave will be there, and the numbers will grow."
Realistically, though, Paul said he doesn’t think any of these groups could actually succeed. Despite the founders’ own deep belief in secession—they gained America’s independence from Europe, after all—he said the Civil War set the precedent that secession would carry "very, very bad" results.
"By our history, the heavy hand of the federal government would come down," Paul told National Journal. "They’d probably shoot ‘em."
In typical fashion, Paul argued that the principle of secession was more important than what could actually happen in reality. It’s the threat, he said, that’s important to keep the federal government in check.
"I think what is most important is we have a concrete right to secede," Paul said. "Even if we never had any secession, or any state declare independence, we would be so much better off, because there would always be this threat. Once the threat of a state leaving was removed, it was just open-door policy for the federal government to expand itself and run roughshod out over the states because the states couldn’t do much."
Given that his son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will likely run for president in 2016 with a much better chance of winning than his father ever had, the elder Paul’s willingness to share his reasonably radical views seem imprudent, if not unexpected. In an election cycle that has often equated the politics of Ron and Rand, this latest remark is sure to annoy the potential 2016-er’s supporters.
For Rand’s sake, it’s fortunate that Ron didn’t express his support for the Texas Nationalist Movement or any other secessionist groups in the U.S. Before he’d back Texan independence, he joked, "I better check out and see who’s running Austin before we decide about that."Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted: Sep 22, 2014 4:54 PM CST Updated: Sep 22, 2014 5:37 PM CST
By Lawrence Smith – email
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Right now, it’s against federal law to use cannabis oil – a marijuana extract – even for medical purpose, but Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth is co-sponsoring a bill that would change that.
If the bill passes, using cannabis oil for medical purposes would no longer put you in danger of landing at the federal courthouse facing drug charges.
Suzanne De Gregorio’s son, Alex, suffers from autism and epilepsy.
She believes cannabis oil can help control the seizures that have hindered his development.
"Children with epilepsy, they’re finding that it can calm the seizures," she said.
Suzanne is using cannabis oil – or CBD oil – right now to help control the after-effects of chemotherapy for breast cancer.
It’s legal because the oil imported from overseas, but Suzanne wants to see more research before trying it on her son.
"This is for me. I don’t give it to him because you really need a neurologists involvement," she said.
Kentucky has approved research into CBD oil for treatment of seizures, but the trials have stalled because the federal government still considers it a controlled substance.
For her son’s sake, De Gregorio is trying to change that.
"He’s suffered tremendously in his life. I mean the pain, the screams. You wouldn’t believe it. And I promised him when he was very little I’m going to find am answer. I’m going to make this better for you somehow, some way," she said.
Now Rep. John Yarmuth (D-3rd Dist.) has signed onto a bill being pushed by De Gregorio that would decriminalize CBD oil and hemp for medical use.
"The idea that we as a federal government have classified hemp in the same category that we classify heroin makes absolutely no sense, and it’s preventing some very, very important therapies from reaching many of our needy citizens," said Yarmuth.
The bill is called the Charlotte’s Web Act; named after a Colorado girl, Charlotte Figi, whose seizures led to development of a non-intoxicating marijuana extract.
"I believe this could be that answer. I hope it is. I want at least have the right to find out," said De Gregorio.
Yarmuth says the bill will not likely be considered until the next session of Congress. Supporters say they’ll keep pushing.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014 11:13 am
Conflict in the Middle East loomed large in a town hall meeting in Bowling Green with Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green.
The fight against Islamic State militants is one that America and other nations and Muslims need to be involved in, Guthrie said. “I think it’s in our interest to destroy them,” he said.
Guthrie has been hosting town halls throughout the 2nd District and on Wednesday stopped at the Knicely Conference Center. He faces Democratic challenger Ron Leach, a retired Army major from Brandenburg, in the November election.
The authorization of military force approved by Congress in 2001 would arguably cover actions that President Barack Obama is taking in Iraq and Syria now against the Islamic State, Guthrie said. However, he said he has voted to make that authorization more narrow.
It would be best for Congress to vote on authorization for new military action, Guthrie said. Congress already has authorized the arming and training of the Free Syrian Army, he said.
Arming and training the Syrians is important because if Syria becomes a haven for the Islamic State militants, they can wait out opposition, Guthrie said.
The militants are known by various names: the Islamic State in Syria, or ISIS; the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant, or ISIL; and the Islamic State.
“They’re well-funded, they’re well-organized and they’re evil,” Guthrie said. “And so we have to have boots on the ground. So the question is, ‘Whose boots are they going to be?’ ” he said. “I want it to be the Syrians’, and that’s why I voted for that.”
Updating his audience on legislative in Congress, Guthrie said the House of Representatives isn’t the cause of a lack of legislation being passed – the Senate is.
The House has passed more than 360 bills now waiting in the Senate, he said.
“So we don’t expect the Senate to pass every bill we pass,” Guthrie said. “That’s not how the Constitution works. They’re an independent body. They can do their own thing. We’d just like for them to pass something.”
When both the Senate and the House pass a version of a bill, the two groups are usually able to work out a compromise, he said.
The thing he’s most proud of during his time in the House is the reauthorization this year of the Workforce Investment Act, Guthrie said.
He said he hopes that, with the implementation of the redeveloped act, more people will be able to find work.
“Just helping people improve themselves through that program, I think that would be my proudest thing,” he said.
Guthrie also spoke about a bill he has sponsored to draw attention to Alzheimer’s research.
The bill would require the National Institutes of Health to submit an annual Alzheimer’s research budget proposal to Congress.
Guthrie said his bill would allow the National Institutes of Health to give Alzheimer’s attention similar to that given to developing cures for AIDS and cancer.
“We need to have that same effort with Alzheimer’s,” he said.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Just as Attorney General Eric Holder prepares to step down from his post, he appears more open than ever to the argument for rescheduling marijuana as a less dangerous, more beneficial drug.
"I think it’s certainly a question we need to ask ourselves, whether or not marijuana is as serious of a drug as heroin," Holder said in an interview with Yahoo global news anchor Katie Couric, released on Thursday. "Especially given what we’ve seen recently with regard to heroin — the progression of people from using opioids to heroin use, the spread and the destruction that heroin has perpetrated all around our country. And to see by contrast, what the impact is of marijuana use. Now it can be destructive if used in certain ways, but the question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that we need to ask ourselves and use science as the basis for making that determination."
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin and LSD. Schedule I drugs, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, have a "high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use."
Yet science clearly indicates otherwise about marijuana. A growing body of research has demonstrated its medical potential. Purified forms of cannabis can be effective at attacking some forms of aggressive cancer. Marijuana use has also been tied to better blood sugar control and may help slow the spread of HIV. Legalization for medical purposes may even lead to lower suicide rates and fewer pain pill overdoses.
The Schedule I classification hinders federal funding for further research into the benefits of cannabis. Columnist Jacob Sullum recently wrote in Forbes that moving marijuana to Schedule III or below could make it easier for university researchers to look into the drug’s full potential.
While marijuana use would still be illegal under federal law, recategorizing it could also remove some of the financial burdens that state-licensed marijuana businesses currently face.
A provision of the federal tax code prohibits any business that "consists of trafficking in controlled substances," which include Schedule I and II drugs, from making tax deductions. Because of this, pot shops cannot deduct traditional business expenses like advertising costs, employee payroll, rent and health insurance from their combined federal and state taxes. Dispensary owners face effective tax rates of 50 to 60 percent — and in some states, those rates soar to 80 percent or higher. The tax rule would no longer apply to pot businesses if marijuana were moved to Schedule III or lower.
To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, while Colorado and Washington remain the only two states to have legalized it for recreational use.
On whether he thinks marijuana should be decriminalized at the federal level, Holder told Couric, "That’s for Congress to decide."
"I think we’ve taken a look at the experiments that are going on in Colorado and Washington, and we’re going to see what happens there, and that’ll help inform us as to what we want to do on the federal level," Holder added.
"For you, the jury is still out?" Couric asked.
"Yeah," Holder said, "it is."
Holder’s statements to Couric on the potential rescheduling of marijuana appear to follow a continuing evolution of his views on the drug. Under the Obama administration, the DEA and several U.S. attorneys have raided hundreds of marijuana dispensaries that were compliant with local laws in states like California and Colorado. But it was Holder who announced in 2013 that the Department of Justice would allow Colorado and Washington to implement their new laws legalizing and regulating the possession, use and sale of marijuana.
More recently, Holder said that the Obama administration would be "more than glad" to work with Congress to re-examine how cannabis is scheduled. He even said in April that he’s "cautiously optimistic" about how the historic changes in Colorado and Washington were working out.
"It’s refreshing to hear these remarks from the attorney general, especially since the science couldn’t be any clearer that marijuana doesn’t meet the criteria for being classified as a Schedule I substance," said Tom Angell, chairman of the advocacy group Marijuana Majority, after the Couric interview. "Numerous studies confirm marijuana’s medical value, and if the administration is serious about taking an objective look at this issue, rescheduling is very achievable by the time this president leaves office. They can do this administratively without any further action from Congress."
Neill Franklin, a retired police officer turned executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, also praised Holder’s comments. He said he hoped the attorney general’s successor "will recognize the war on drugs for what it is: the single biggest problem afflicting our criminal justice system and the central civil rights issue of our time."Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world’s largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. But what they don’t want you to know is how they made all that money
By Tim Dickinson | September 24, 2014
The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today’s GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year’s midterms. So far in this cycle, Koch-backed entities have bought 44,000 political ads to boost Republican efforts to take back the Senate.
What is less clear is where all that money comes from. Koch Industries is headquartered in a squat, smoked-glass building that rises above the prairie on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. The building, like the brothers’ fiercely private firm, is literally and figuratively a black box. Koch touts only one top-line financial figure: $115 billion in annual revenue, as estimated by Forbes. By that metric, it is larger than IBM, Honda or Hewlett-Packard and is America’s second-largest private company after agribusiness colossus Cargill. The company’s stock response to inquiries from reporters: "We are privately held and don’t disclose this information."
But Koch Industries is not entirely opaque. The company’s troubled legal history – including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions – augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP.
Under the nearly five-decade reign of CEO Charles Koch, the company has paid out record civil and criminal environmental penalties. And in 1999, a jury handed down to Koch’s pipeline company what was then the largest wrongful-death judgment of its type in U.S. history, resulting from the explosion of a defective pipeline that incinerated a pair of Texas teenagers.
The volume of Koch Industries’ toxic output is staggering. According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America’s air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries. Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined. The company ranks 13th in the nation for toxic air pollution. Koch’s climate pollution, meanwhile, outpaces oil giants including Valero, Chevron and Shell. Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.
The Koch Brothers – Exposed!
For Koch, this license to pollute amounts to a perverse, hidden subsidy. The cost is borne by communities in cities like Port Arthur, Texas, where a Koch-owned facility produces as much as 2 billion pounds of petrochemicals every year. In March, Koch signed a consent decree with the Department of Justice requiring it to spend more than $40 million to bring this plant into compliance with the Clean Air Act.
The toxic history of Koch Industries is not limited to physical pollution. It also extends to the company’s business practices, which have been the target of numerous federal investigations, resulting in several indictments and convictions, as well as a whole host of fines and penalties.
And in one of the great ironies of the Obama years, the president’s financial-regulatory reform seems to benefit Koch Industries. The company is expanding its high-flying trading empire precisely as Wall Street banks – facing tough new restrictions, which Koch has largely escaped – are backing away from commodities speculation.
It is often said that the Koch brothers are in the oil business. That’s true as far as it goes – but Koch Industries is not a major oil producer. Instead, the company has woven itself into every nook of the vast industrial web that transforms raw fossil fuels into usable goods. Koch-owned businesses trade, transport, refine and process fossil fuels, moving them across the world and up the value chain until they become things we forgot began with hydrocarbons: fertilizers, Lycra, the innards of our smartphones.
The company controls at least four oil refineries, six ethanol plants, a natural-gas-fired power plant and 4,000 miles of pipeline. Until recently, Koch refined roughly five percent of the oil burned in America (that percentage is down after it shuttered its 85,000-barrel-per-day refinery in North Pole, Alaska, owing, in part, to the discovery that a toxic solvent had leaked from the facility, fouling the town’s groundwater). From the fossil fuels it refines, Koch also produces billions of pounds of petrochemicals, which, in turn, become the feedstock for other Koch businesses. In a journey across Koch Industries, what enters as a barrel of West Texas Intermediate can exit as a Stainmaster carpet.
Koch’s hunger for growth is insatiable: Since 1960, the company brags, the value of Koch Industries has grown 4,200-fold, outpacing the Standard & Poor’s index by nearly 30 times. On average, Koch projects to double its revenue every six years. Koch is now a key player in the fracking boom that’s vaulting the United States past Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer, even as it’s endangering America’s groundwater. In 2012, a Koch subsidiary opened a pipeline capable of carrying 250,000 barrels a day of fracked crude from South Texas to Corpus Christi, where the company owns a refinery complex, and it has announced plans to further expand its Texas pipeline operations. In a recent acquisition, Koch bought Frac-Chem, a top provider of hydraulic fracturing chemicals to drillers. Thanks to the Bush administration’s anti-regulatory agenda – which Koch Industries helped craft – Frac-Chem’s chemical cocktails, injected deep under the nation’s aquifers, are almost entirely exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Koch is also long on the richest – but also the dirtiest and most carbon-polluting – oil deposits in North America: the tar sands of Alberta. The company’s Pine Bend refinery, near St. Paul, Minnesota, processes nearly a quarter of the Canadian bitumen exported to the United States – which, in turn, has created for Koch Industries a lucrative sideline in petcoke exports. Denser, dirtier and cheaper than coal, petcoke is the dregs of tar-sands refining. U.S. coal plants are largely forbidden from burning petcoke, but it can be profitably shipped to countries with lax pollution laws like Mexico and China. One of the firm’s subsidiaries, Koch Carbon, is expanding its Chicago terminal operations to receive up to 11 million tons of petcoke for global export. In June, the EPA noted the facility had violated the Clean Air Act with petcoke particulates that endanger the health of South Side residents. "We dispute that the two elevated readings" behind the EPA notice of violation "are violations of anything," Koch’s top lawyer, Mark Holden, told Rolling Stone, insisting that Koch Carbon is a good neighbor.
Over the past dozen years, the company has quietly acquired leases for 1.1 million acres of Alberta oil fields, an area larger than Rhode Island. By some estimates, Koch’s direct holdings nearly double ExxonMobil’s and nearly triple Shell’s. In May, Koch Oil Sands Operating LLC of Calgary, Alberta, sought permits to embark on a multi-billiondollar tar-sands-extraction operation. This one site is projected to produce 22 million barrels a year – more than a full day’s supply of U.S. oil.
Charles Koch, the 78-year-old CEO and chairman of the board of Koch Industries, is inarguably a business savant. He presents himself as a man of moral clarity and high integrity. "The role of business is to produce products and services in a way that makes people’s lives better," he said recently. "It cannot do so if it is injuring people and harming the environment in the process."
The Koch family’s lucrative blend of pollution, speculation, law-bending and self-righteousness stretches back to the early 20th century, when Charles’ father first entered the oil business. Fred C. Koch was born in 1900 in Quanah, Texas – a sunbaked patch of prairie across the Red River from Oklahoma. Fred was the second son of Hotze "Harry" Koch, a Dutch immigrant who – as recalled in Koch literature – ran "a modest newspaper business" amid the dusty poverty of Quanah. In the family legend, Fred Koch emerged from the nothing of the Texas range to found an empire. But like many stories the company likes to tell about itself, this piece of Kochlore takes liberties with the truth. Fred was not a simple country boy, and his father was not just a small-town publisher. Harry Koch was also a local railroad baron who used his newspaper to promote the Quanah, Acme & Pacific railways. A director and founding shareholder of the company, Harry sought to build a rail line across Texas to El Paso. He hoped to turn Quanah into "the most important railroad center in northwest Texas and a metropolitan city of first rank." He may not have fulfilled those ambitions, but Harry did build up what one friend called "a handsome pile of dinero."
Harry was not just the financial springboard for the Koch dynasty, he was also its wellspring of far-right politics. Harry editorialized against fiat money, demanded hangings for "habitual criminals" and blasted Social Security as inviting sloth. At the depths of the Depression, he demanded that elected officials in Washington should stop trying to fix the economy: "Business," he wrote, "has always found a way to overcome various recessions."
In the company’s telling, young Fred was an innovator whose inventions helped revolutionize the oil industry. But there is much more to this story. In its early days, refining oil was a dirty and wasteful practice. But around 1920, Universal Oil Products introduced a clean and hugely profitable way to "crack" heavy crude, breaking it down under heat and heavy pressure to boost gasoline yields. In 1925, Fred, who earned a degree in chemical engineering from MIT, partnered with a former Universal engineer named Lewis Winkler and designed a near carbon copy of the Universal cracking apparatus – making only tiny, unpatentable tweaks. Relying on family connections, Fred soon landed his first client – an Oklahoma refinery owned by his maternal uncle L.B. Simmons. In a flash, Winkler-Koch Engineering Co. had contracts to install its knockoff cracking equipment all over the heartland, undercutting Universal by charging a one-time fee rather than ongoing royalties.
It was a boom business. That is, until Universal sued in 1929, accusing WinklerKoch of stealing its intellectual property. With his domestic business tied up in court, Fred started looking for partners abroad and was soon doing business in the Soviet Union, where leader Joseph Stalin had just launched his first Five Year Plan. Stalin sought to fund his country’s industrialization by selling oil into the lucrative European export market. But the Soviet Union’s reserves were notoriously hard to refine. The USSR needed cracking technology, and the Oil Directorate of the Supreme Council of the National Economy took a shining to Winkler-Koch – primarily because Koch’s oil-industry competitors were reluctant to do business with totalitarian Communists.
Between 1929 and 1931, Winkler-Koch built 15 cracking units for the Soviets. Although Stalin’s evil was no secret, it wasn’t until Fred visited the Soviet Union, that these dealings seemed to affect his conscience. "I went to the USSR in 1930 and found it a land of hunger, misery and terror," he would later write. Even so, he agreed to give the Soviets the engineering know-how they would need to keep building more.
Back home, Fred was busy building a life of baronial splendor. He met his wife, Mary, the Wellesley-educated daughter of a Kansas City surgeon, on a polo field and soon bought 160 acres across from the Wichita Country Club, where they built a Tudorstyle mansion. As chronicled in Sons of Wichita, Daniel Schulman’s investigation of the Koch dynasty, the compound was quickly bursting with princes: Frederick arrived in 1933, followed by Charles in 1935 and twins David and Bill in 1940. Fred Koch lorded over his domain. "My mother was afraid of my father," said Bill, as were the four boys, especially first-born Frederick, an artistic kid with a talent for the theater. "Father wanted to make all his boys into men, and Freddie couldn’t relate to that regime," Charles recalled. Frederick got shipped East to boarding school and was all but disappeared from Wichita.
With Frederick gone, Charles forged a deep alliance with David, the more athletic and assertive of the young twins. "I was closer with David because he was better at everything," Charles has said.
Fred Koch’s legal battle with Universal would drag on for nearly a quarter-century. In 1934, a lower court ruled that Winkler-Koch had infringed on Universal’s technology. But that judgment would be vacated, after it came out in 1943 that Universal had bought off one of the judges handling the appeal. A year later, the Supreme Court decided that Fred’s cracker, by virtue of small technical differences, did not violate the Universal patent. Fred countersued on antitrust grounds, arguing that Universal had wielded patents anti-competitively. He’d win a $1.5 million settlement in 1952.
Around that time, Fred had built a domestic oil empire under a new company eventually called Rock Island Oil & Refining, transporting crude from wellheads to refineries by truck or by pipe. In those later years, Fred also became a major benefactor and board member of the John Birch Society, the rabidly anti-communist organization founded in 1958 by candy magnate and virulent racist Robert Welch. Bircher publications warned that the Red endgame was the creation of the "Negro Soviet Republic" in the Deep South. In his own writing, Fred described integration as a Red plot to "enslave both the white and black man."
Like his father, Charles Koch attended MIT. After he graduated in 1959 with two master’s degrees in engineering, his father issued an ultimatum: Come back to Wichita or I’ll sell the business. "Papa laid it on the line," recalled David. So Charles returned home, immersing himself in his father’s world – not simply joining the John Birch Society, but also opening a Bircher bookstore. The Birchers had high hopes for young Charles. As Koch family friend Robert Love wrote in a letter to Welch: "Charles Koch can, if he desires, finance a large operation, however, he must continually be brought along."
But Charles was already falling under the sway of a charismatic radio personality named Robert LeFevre, founder of the Freedom School, a whites-only libertarian boot camp in the foothills above Colorado Springs, Colorado. LeFevre preached a form of anarchic capitalism in which the individual should be freed from almost all government power. Charles soon had to make a choice. While the Birchers supported the Vietnam War, his new guru was a pacifist who equated militarism with out-of-control state power. LeFevre’s stark influence on Koch’s thinking is crystallized in a manifesto Charles wrote for the Libertarian Review in the 1970s, recently unearthed by Schulman, titled "The Business Community: Resisting Regulation." Charles lays out principles that gird today’s Tea Party movement. Referring to regulation as "totalitarian," the 41-year-old Charles claimed business leaders had been "hoodwinked" by the notion that regulation is "in the public interest." He advocated the "barest possible obedience" to regulation and implored, "Do not cooperate voluntarily, instead, resist whenever and to whatever extent you legally can in the name of justice."
After his father died in 1967, Charles, now in command of the family business, renamed it Koch Industries. It had grown into one of the 10 largest privately owned firms in the country, buying and selling some 80 million barrels of oil a year and operating 3,000 miles of pipeline. A black-diamond skier and white-water kayaker, Charles ran the business with an adrenaline junkie’s aggressiveness. The company would build pipelines to promising oil fields without a contract from the producers and park tanker trucks beside wildcatters’ wells, waiting for the first drops of crude to flow. "Our willingness to move quickly, absorb more risk," Charles would write, "enabled us to become the leading crude-oilgathering company."
Charles also reconnected with one of his father’s earliest insights: There’s big money in dirty oil. In the late 1950s, Fred Koch had bought a minority stake in a Minnesota refinery that processed heavy Canadian crude. "We could run the lousiest crude in the world," said his business partner J. Howard Marshall II – the future Mr. Anna Nicole Smith. Sensing an opportunity for huge profits, Charles struck a deal to convert Marshall’s ownership stake in the refinery into stock in Koch Industries. Suddenly the majority owner, the company soon bought the rest of the refinery outright.
Almost from the beginning, Koch Industries’ risk-taking crossed over into recklessness. The OPEC oil embargo hit the company hard. Koch had made a deal giving the company the right to buy a large share of Qatar’s export crude. At the time, Koch owned five supertankers and had chartered many others. When the embargo hit, Koch had upward of half a billion dollars in exposure to tankers and couldn’t deliver OPEC oil to the U.S. market, creating what Charles has called "large losses." Soon, Koch Industries was caught overcharging American customers. The Ford administration in the summer of 1974 compelled Koch to pay out more than $20 million in rebates and future price reductions.
Koch Industries’ manipulations were about to get more audacious. In the late 1970s, the federal government parceled out exploration tracts, using a lottery in which anyone could score a 10-year lease at just $1 an acre – a game of chance that gave wildcat prospectors the same shot as the biggest players. Koch didn’t like these odds, so it enlisted scores of frontmen to bid on its behalf. In the event they won the lottery, they would turn over their leases to the company. In 1980, Koch Industries pleaded guilty to five felonies in federal court, including conspiracy to commit fraud.
With Republicans and Democrats united in regulating the oil business, Charles had begun throwing his wealth behind the upstart Libertarian Party, seeking to transform it into a viable third party. Over the years, he would spend millions propping up a league of affiliated think tanks and front groups – a network of Libertarians that became known as the "Kochtopus."
Charles even convinced David to stand as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980 – a clever maneuver that allowed David to lavish unlimited money on his own ticket. The Koch-funded 1980 platform was nakedly in the brothers’ self-interest – slashing federal regulatory agencies, offering a 50 percent tax break to top earners, ending the "cruel and unfair" estate tax and abolishing a $16 billion "windfall profits" tax on the oil industry. The words of Libertarian presidential candidate Ed Clark’s convention speech in Los Angeles ring across the decades: "We’re sick of taxes," he declared. "We’re ready to have a very big tea party." In a very real sense, the modern Republican Party was on the ballot that year – and it was running against Ronald Reagan.
Charles’ management style and infatuation with far-right politics were endangering his grip on the company. Bill believed his brothers’ political spending was bad for business. "Pretty soon, we would get the reputation that the company and the Kochs were crazy," he said.
In late 1980, with Frederick’s backing, Bill launched an unsuccessful battle for control of Koch Industries, aiming to take the company public. Three years later, Charles and David bought out their brothers for $1.1 billion. But the speed with which Koch Industries paid off the buyout debt left Bill convinced, but never quite able to prove, he’d been defrauded. He would spend the next 18 years suing his brothers, calling them "the biggest crooks in the oil industry."
Bill also shared these concerns with the federal government. Thanks in part to his efforts, in 1989 a Senate committee investigating Koch business with Native Americans would describe Koch Oil tactics as "grand larceny." In the late 1980s, Koch was the largest purchaser of oil from American tribes. Senate investigators suspected the company was making off with more crude from tribal oil fields than it measured and paid for. They set up a sting, sending an FBI agent to coordinate stakeouts of eight remote leases. Six of them were Koch operations, and the agents reported "oil theft" at all of them.
One of Koch’s gaugers would refer to this as "volume enhancement." But in sworn testimony before a Texas jury, Phillip Dubose, a former Koch pipeline manager, offered a more succinct definition: "stealing." The Senate committee concluded that over the course of three years Koch "pilfered" $31 million in Native oil; in 1988, the value of that stolen oil accounted for nearly a quarter of the company’s crude-oil profits. "I don’t know how the company could have figures like that," the FBI agent testified, "and not have top management know that theft was going on." In his own testimony, Charles offered that taking oil readings "is a very uncertain art" and that his employees "aren’t rocket scientists." Koch’s top lawyer would later paint the company as a victim of Senate "McCarthyism."
By this time, the Kochs had soured on the Libertarian Party, concluding that control of a small party would never give them the muscle they sought in the nation’s capital. Now they would spend millions in efforts to influence – and ultimately take over – the GOP. The work began close to home; the Kochs had become dedicated patrons of Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, who ran interference for Koch Industries in Washington. On the Senate floor in March 1990, Dole gloatingly cautioned against a "rush to judgment" against Koch, citing "very real concerns about some of the evidence on which the special committee was basing its findings." A grand jury investigated the claims but disbanded in 1992, without issuing indictments.
Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini was "surprised and disappointed" at the decision to drop the case. "Our investigation was some of the finest work the Senate has ever done," he said. "There was an overwhelming case against Koch." But Koch did not avoid all punishment. Under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government, Bill sued the company, accusing it of defrauding the feds of royalty income on its "volume enhanced" purchases of Native oil. A jury concluded Koch had submitted more than 24,000 false claims, exposing Koch to some $214 million in penalties. Koch later settled, paying $25 million.
Self-interest continued to define Koch Industries’ adventures in public policy. In the early 1990s, in a high-profile initiative of the first-term Clinton White House, the administration was pushing for a levy on the heat content of fuels. Known as the BTU tax, it was the earliest attempt by the federal government to recoup damages from climate polluters. But Koch Industries could not stand losing its most valuable subsidy: the public policy that allowed it to treat the atmosphere as an open sewer. Richard Fink, head of Koch Company’s Public Sector and the longtime mastermind of the Koch brothers’ political empire, confessed to The Wichita Eagle in 1994 that Koch could not compete if it actually had to pay for the damage it did to the environment: "Our belief is that the tax, over time, may have destroyed our business."
To fight this threat, the Kochs funded a "grassroots" uprising – one that foreshadowed the emergence, decades later, of the Tea Party. The effort was run through Citizens for a Sound Economy, to which the brothers had spent a decade giving nearly $8 million to create what David Koch called "a sales force" to communicate the brothers’ political agenda through town hall meetings and anti-tax rallies designed to look like spontaneous demonstrations. In 1994, David Koch bragged that CSE’s campaign "played a key role in defeating the administration’s plans for a huge and cumbersome BTU tax."
Despite the company’s increasingly sophisticated political and public-relations operations, Charles’ philosophy of regulatory resistance was about to bite Koch Industries – in the form of record civil and criminal financial penalties imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Koch entered the 1990s on a pipeline-buying spree. By 1994, its network measured 37,000 miles. According to sworn testimony from former Koch employees, the company operated its pipelines with almost complete disregard for maintenance. As Koch employees understood it, this was in keeping with their CEO’s trademarked business philosophy, Market Based Management.
For Charles, MBM – first communicated to employees in 1991 – was an attempt to distill the business practices that had grown Koch into one of the largest oil businesses in the world. To incentivize workers, Koch gives employees bonuses that correlate to the value they create for the company. "Salary is viewed only as an advance on compensation for value," Koch wrote, "and compensation has an unlimited upside."
To prevent the stagnation that can often bog down big enterprises, Koch was also determined to incentivize risk-taking. Under MBM, Koch Industries books opportunity costs – "profits foregone from a missed opportunity" – as though they were actual losses on the balance sheet. Koch employees who play it safe, in other words, can’t strike it rich.
On paper, MBM sounds innovative and exciting. But in Koch’s hyperaggressive corporate culture, it contributed to a series of environmental disasters. Applying MBM to pipeline maintenance, Koch employees calculated that the opportunity cost of shutting down equipment to ensure its safety was greater than the profit potential of pushing aging pipe to its limits.
The fact that preventive pipeline maintenance is required by law didn’t always seem to register. Dubose, a 26-year Koch veteran who oversaw pipeline areas in Louisiana, would testify about the company’s lax attitude toward maintenance. "It was a question of money. It would take away from our profit margin." The testimony of another pipeline manager would echo that of Dubose: "Basically, the philosophy was ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t work on it.’"
When small spills occurred, Dubose testified, the company would cover them up. He recalled incidents in which the company would use the churn of a tugboat’s engine to break up waterborne spills and "just kind of wash that thing on down, down the river." On land, Dubose said, "They might pump it [the leaked oil] off into a drum, then take a shovel and just turn the earth over." When larger spills were reported to authorities, the volume of the discharges was habitually low-balled, according to Dubose.
Managers pressured employees to falsify pipeline-maintenance records filed with federal authorities; in a sworn affidavit, pipeline worker Bobby Conner recalled arguments with his manager over Conner’s refusal to file false reports: "He would always respond with anger," Conner said, "and tell me that I did not know how to be a Koch employee." Conner was fired and later settled a wrongful-termination suit with Koch Gateway Pipeline. Dubose testified that Charles was not in the dark about the company’s operations. "He was in complete control," Dubose said. "He was the one that was line-driving this Market-Based Management at meetings."
Before the worst spill from this time, Koch employees had raised concerns about the integrity of a 1940s-era pipeline in South Texas. But the company not only kept the line in service, it increased the pressure to move more volume. When a valve snapped shut in 1994, the brittle pipeline exploded. More than 90,000 gallons of crude spewed into Gum Hollow Creek, fouling surrounding marshlands and both Nueces and Corpus Christi bays with a 12-mile oil slick.
By 1995, the EPA had seen enough. It sued Koch for gross violations of the Clean Water Act. From 1988 through 1996, the company’s pipelines spilled 11.6 million gallons of crude and petroleum products. Internal Koch records showed that its pipelines were in such poor condition that it would require $98 million in repairs to bring them up to industry standard.
Ultimately, state and federal agencies forced Koch to pay a $30 million civil penalty – then the largest in the history of U.S. environmental law – for 312 spills across six states. Carol Browner, the former EPA administrator, said of Koch, "They simply did not believe the law applied to them." This was not just partisan rancor. Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, the future Republican senator, had joined the EPA in bringing suit against Koch. "This settlement and penalty warn polluters that they cannot treat oil spills simply as the cost of doing business," Cornyn said. (The Kochs seem to have no hard feelings toward their one-time tormentor; a lobbyist for Koch was the number-two bundler for Cornyn’s primary campaign this year.)
Koch wasn’t just cutting corners on its pipelines. It was also violating federal environmental law in other corners of the empire. Through much of the 1990s at its Pine Bend refinery in Minnesota, Koch spilled up to 600,000 gallons of jet fuel into wetlands near the Mississippi River. Indeed, the company was treating the Mississippi as a sewer, illegally dumping ammonia-laced wastewater into the river – even increasing its discharges on weekends when it knew it wasn’t being monitored. Koch Petroleum Group eventually pleaded guilty to "negligent discharge of a harmful quantity of oil" and "negligent violation of the Clean Water Act," was ordered to pay a $6 million fine and $2 million in remediation costs, and received three years’ probation. This facility had already been declared a Superfund site in 1984.
In 2000, Koch was hit with a 97-count indictment over claims it violated the Clean Air Act by venting massive quantities of benzene at a refinery in Corpus Christi – and then attempted to cover it up. According to the indictment, Koch filed documents with Texas regulators indicating releases of just 0.61 metric tons of benzene for 1995 – one-tenth of what was allowed under the law. But the government alleged that Koch had been informed its true emissions that year measured 91 metric tons, or 15 times the legal limit.
By the time the case came to trial, however, George W. Bush was in office and the indictment had been significantly pared down – Koch faced charges on only seven counts. The Justice Department settled in what many perceived to be a sweetheart deal, and Koch pleaded guilty to a single felony count for covering up the fact that it had disconnected a key pollution-control device and did not measure the resulting benzene emissions – receiving five years’ probation. Despite skirting stiffer criminal prosecution, Koch was handed $20 million in fines and reparations – another historic judgment.
On the day before Danielle Smalley was to leave for college, she and her friend Jason Stone were hanging out in her family’s mobile home. Seventeen years old, with long chestnut hair, Danielle began to feel nauseated. "Dad," she said, "we smell gas." It was 3:45 in the afternoon on August 24th, 1996, near Lively, Texas, some 50 miles southeast of Dallas. The Smalleys were too poor to own a telephone. So the teens jumped into her dad’s 1964 Chevy pickup to alert the authorities. As they drove away, the truck stalled where the driveway crossed a dry creek bed. Danielle cranked the ignition, and a fireball engulfed the truck. "You see two children burned to death in front of you – you never forget that," Danielle’s father, Danny, would later tell reporters.
Unknown to the Smalleys, a decrepit Koch pipeline carrying liquid butane – literally, lighter fluid – ran through their subdivision. It had ruptured, filling the creek bed with vapor, and the spark from the pickup’s ignition had set off a bomb. Federal investigators documented both "severe corrosion" and "mechanical damage" in the pipeline. A National Transportation Safety Board report would cite the "failure of Koch Pipeline Company LP to adequately protect its pipeline from corrosion."
Installed in the early Eighties, the pipeline had been out of commission for three years. When Koch decided to start it up again in 1995, a water-pressure test had blown the pipe open. An inspection of just a few dozen miles of pipe near the Smalley home found 538 corrosion defects. The industry’s term of art for a pipeline in this condition is Swiss cheese, according to the testimony of an expert witness – "essentially the pipeline is gone."
Koch repaired only 80 of the defects – enough to allow the pipeline to withstand another pressure check – and began running explosive fluid down the line at high pressure in January 1996. A month later, employees discovered that a key anticorrosion system had malfunctioned, but it was never fixed. Charles Koch had made it clear to managers that they were expected to slash costs and boost profits. In a sternly worded memo that April, Charles had ordered his top managers to cut expenditures by 10 percent "through the elimination of waste (I’m sure there is much more waste than that)" in order to increase pre-tax earnings by $550 million a year.
The Smalley trial underscored something Bill Koch had said about the way his brothers ran the company: "Koch Industries has a philosophy that profits are above everything else." A former Koch manager, Kenoth Whitstine, testified to incidents in which Koch Industries placed profits over public safety. As one supervisor had told him, regulatory fines "usually didn’t amount to much" and, besides, the company had "a stable full of lawyers in Wichita that handled those situations." When Whitstine told another manager he was concerned that unsafe pipelines could cause a deadly accident, this manager said that it was more profitable for the company to risk litigation than to repair faulty equipment. The company could "pay off a lawsuit from an incident and still be money ahead," he said, describing the principles of MBM to a T.
At trial, Danny Smalley asked for a judgment large enough to make the billionaires feel pain: "Let Koch take their child out there and put their children on the pipeline, open it up and let one of them die," he told the jury. "And then tell me what that’s worth." The jury was emphatic, awarding Smalley $296 million – then the largest wrongful-death judgment in American legal history. He later settled with Koch for an undisclosed sum and now runs a pipeline-safety foundation in his daughter’s name. He declined to comment for this story. "It upsets him too much," says an associate.
The official Koch line is that scandals that caused the company millions in fines, judgments and penalties prompted a change in Charles’ attitude of regulatory resistance. In his 2007 book, The Science of Success, he begrudgingly acknowledges his company’s recklessness. "While business was becoming increasingly regulated," he reflects, "we kept thinking and acting as if we lived in a pure market economy. The reality was far different."
Charles has since committed Koch Industries to obeying federal regulations. "Even when faced with laws we think are counterproductive," he writes, "we must first comply." Underscoring just how out of bounds Koch had ventured in its corporate culture, Charles admits that "it required a monumental undertaking to integrate compliance into every aspect of the company." In 2000, Koch Petroleum Group entered into an agreement with the EPA and the Justice Department to spend $80 million at three refineries to bring them into compliance with the Clean Air Act. After hitting Koch with a $4.5 million penalty, the EPA granted the company a "clean slate" for certain past violations.
Then George W. Bush entered the White House in 2001, his campaign fattened with Koch money. Charles Koch may decry cronyism as "nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful," but he put his company to work, hand in glove, with the Bush White House. Correspondence, contacts and visits among Koch Industries representatives and the Bush White House generated nearly 20,000 pages of records, according to a Rolling Stone FOIA request of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. In 2007, the administration installed a fiercely anti-regulatory academic, Susan Dudley, who hailed from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University, as its top regulatory official.
Today, Koch points to awards it has won for safety and environmental excellence. "Koch companies have a strong record of compliance," Holden, Koch’s top lawyer, tells Rolling Stone. "In the distant past, when we failed to meet these standards, we took steps to ensure that we were building a culture of 10,000 percent compliance, with 100 percent of our employees complying 100 percent." To reduce its liability, Koch has also unwound its pipeline business, from 37,000 miles in the late 1990s to about 4,000 miles. Of the much smaller operation, he adds, "Koch’s pipeline practice and operations today are the best in the industry."
But even as compliance began to improve among its industrial operations, the company aggressively expanded its trading activities into the Wild West frontier of risky financial instruments. In 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act had exempted many of these products from regulation, and Koch Industries was among the key players shaping that law. Koch joined up with Enron, BP, Mobil and J. Aron – a division of Goldman Sachs then run by Lloyd Blankfein – in a collaboration called the Energy Group. This corporate alliance fought to prohibit the federal government from policing oil and gas derivatives. "The importance of derivatives for the Energy Group companies . . . cannot be overestimated," the group’s lawyer wrote to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 1998. "The success of this business can be completely undermined by . . . a costly regulatory regime that has no place in the energy industry."
Koch had long specialized in "over-the-counter" or OTC trades – private, unregulated contracts not disclosed on any centralized exchange. In its own letter to the CFTC, Koch identified itself as "a major participant in the OTC derivatives market," adding that the company not only offered "risk-management tools for its customers" but also traded "for its own account." Making the case for what would be known as the Enron Loophole, Koch argued that any big firm’s desire to "maintain a good reputation" would prevent "widespread abuses in the OTC derivatives market," a darkly hilarious claim, given what would become not only of Enron, but also Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG.
The Enron Loophole became law in December 2000 – pushed along by Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, giving the Energy Group exactly what it wanted. "It completely exempted energy futures from regulation," says Michael Greenberger, a former director of trading and markets at the CFTC. "It wasn’t a matter of regulators not enforcing manipulation or excessive speculation limits – this market wasn’t covered at all. By law."
Before its spectacular collapse, Enron would use this loophole in 2001 to help engineer an energy crisis in California, artificially constraining the supply of natural gas and power generation, causing price spikes and rolling blackouts. This blatant and criminal market manipulation has become part of the legend of Enron. But Koch was caught up in the debacle. The CFTC would charge that a partnership between Koch and the utility Entergy had, at the height of the California crisis, reported fake natural-gas trades to reporting firms and also "knowingly reported false prices and/or volumes" on real trades.
One of 10 companies punished for such schemes, Entergy-Koch avoided prosecution by paying a $3 million fine as part of a 2004 settlement with the CFTC, in which it did not admit guilt to the commission’s charges but is barred from maintaining its innocence.
Trading, which had long been peripheral to the company’s core businesses, soon took center stage. In 2002, the company launched a subsidiary, Koch Supply & Trading. KS&T got off to a rocky start. "A series of bad trades," writes a Koch insider, "boiled over in early 2004 when a large ‘sure bet’ crude-oil trade went south, resulting in a quick, multimillion loss." But Koch traders quickly adjusted to the reality that energy markets were no longer ruled just by supply and demand – but by rich speculators trying to game the market. Revamping its strategy, Koch Industries soon began bragging of record profits. From 2003 to 2012, KS&T trading volumes exploded – up 450 percent. By 2009, KS&T ranked among the world’s top-five oil traders, and by 2011, the company billed itself as "one of the leading quantitative traders" – though Holden now says it’s no longer in this business.
Since Koch Industries aggressively expanded into high finance, the net worth of each brother has also exploded – from roughly $4 billion in 2002 to more than $40 billion today. In that period, the company embarked on a corporate buying spree that has taken it well beyond petroleum. In 2005, Koch purchased Georgia Pacific for $21 billion, giving the company a familiar, expansive grip on the industrial web that transforms Southern pine into consumer goods – from plywood sold at Home Depot to brand-name products like Dixie Cups and Angel Soft toilet paper. In 2013, Koch leapt into high technology with the $7 billion acquisition of Molex, a manufacturer of more than 100,000 electronics components and a top supplier to smartphone makers, including Apple.
Koch Supply & Trading makes money both from physical trades that move oil and commodities across oceans as well as in "paper" trades involving nothing more than high-stakes bets and cash. In paper trading, Koch’s products extend far beyond simple oil futures. Koch pioneered, for sale to hedge funds, "volatility swaps," in which the actual price of crude is irrelevant and what matters is only the "magnitude of daily fluctuations in prices." Steve Mawer, until recently the president of KS&T, described parts of his trading operation as "black-box stuff."
Like a casino that bets at its own craps table, Koch engages in "proprietary trading" – speculating for the company’s own bottom line. "We’re like a hedge fund and a dealer at the same time," bragged Ilia Bouchouev, head of Koch’s derivatives trading in 2004. "We can both make markets and speculate." The company’s many tentacles in the physical oil business give Koch rich insight into market conditions and disruptions that can inform its speculative bets. When oil prices spiked to record heights in 2008, Koch was a major player in the speculative markets, according to documents leaked by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with trading volumes rivaling Wall Street giants like Citibank. Koch rode a trader-driven frenzy – detached from actual supply and demand – that drove prices above $147 a barrel in July 2008, battering a global economy about to enter a free fall.
Only Koch knows how much money Koch reaped during this price spike. But, as a proxy, consider the $20 million Koch and its subsidiaries spent lobbying Congress in 2008 – before then, its biggest annual lobbying expense had been $5 million – seeking to derail a raft of consumer-protection bills, including the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008, the Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices Act of 2008 and the Close the Enron Loophole Act.
In comments to the Federal Trade Commission, Koch lobbyists defended the company’s right to rack up fantastic profits at the expense of American consumers. "A mere attempt to maximize profits cannot constitute market manipulation," they wrote, adding baldly, "Excessive profits in the face of shortages are desirable."
When the global economy crashed in 2008, so did oil prices. By December, crude was trading more than $100 lower per barrel than it had just months earlier – around $30. At the same time, oil traders anticipated that prices would eventually rebound. Futures contracts for delivery of oil in December 2009 were trading at nearly $55 per barrel. When future delivery is more valuable than present inventory, the market is said to be "in contango." Koch exploited the contango market to the hilt. The company leased nine supertankers and filled them with cut-rate crude and parked them quietly offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, banking virtually risk-free profits by selling contracts for future delivery.
All in, Koch took about 20 million barrels of oil off the market, putting itself in a position to bet on price disruptions the company itself was creating. Thanks to these kinds of trading efforts, Koch could boast in a 2009 review that "the performance of Koch Supply & Trading actually grew stronger last year as the global economy worsened." The cost for those risk-free profits was paid by consumers at the pump. Estimates pegged the cost of the contango trade by Koch and others at up to 40 cents a gallon.
Artificially constraining oil supplies is not the only source of dark, unregulated profit for Koch Industries. In the years after George W. Bush branded Iran a member of the "Axis of Evil," the Koch brothers profited from trade with the state sponsor of terror and reckless would-be nuclear power. For decades, U.S. companies have been forbidden from doing business with the Ayatollahs, but Koch Industries exploited a loophole in 1996 sanctions that made it possible for foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to do some business in Iran.
In the ensuing years, according to Bloomberg Markets, the German and Italian arms of Koch-Glitsch, a Koch subsidiary that makes equipment for oil fields and refineries, won lucrative contracts to supply Iran’s Zagros plant, the largest methanol plant in the world. And thanks in part to Koch, methanol is now one of Iran’s leading non-oil exports. "Every single chance they had to do business with Iran, or anyone else, they did," said Koch whistle-blower George Bentu. Having signed on to work for a company that lists "integrity" as its top value, Bentu added, "You feel totally betrayed. Everything Koch stood for was a lie."
Koch reportedly kept trading with Tehran until 2007 – after the regime was exposed for supplying IEDs to Iraqi insurgents killing U.S. troops. According to lawyer Holden, Koch has since "decided that none of its subsidiaries would engage in trade involving Iran, even where such trade is permissible under U.S. law."
These days, Koch’s most disquieting foreign dealings are in Canada, where the company has massive investments in dirty tar sands. The company’s 1.1 million acres of leases in northern Alberta contain reserves of economically recoverable oil numbering in the billions of barrels. With these massive leaseholdings, Koch is poised to continue profiting from Canadian crude whether or not the Keystone XL pipeline gains approval, says Andrew Leach, an energy and environmental economist at the business school of the University of Alberta.
Counter intuitively, approval of Keystone XL could actually harm one of Koch’s most profitable businesses – its Pine Bend refinery in Minnesota. Because tar-sands crude presently has no easy outlet to the global market, there’s a glut of Canadian oil in the midcontinent, and Koch’s refinery is a beneficiary of this oversupply; the resulting discount can exceed $20 a barrel compared to conventional crude. If it is ever built, the Keystone XL pipeline will provide a link to Gulf Coast refineries – and thus the global export market, which would erase much of that discount and eat into company profit margins.
Leach says Koch Industries’ tar-sands leaseholdings have them hedged against the potential approval of Keystone XL. The pipeline would increase the value of Canadian tar-sands deposits overnight. Koch could then profit handsomely by flipping its leases to more established producers. "Optimizing asset value through trading," Koch literature says of these and other holdings, is a "key" company strategy.
The one truly bad outcome for Koch would be if Keystone XL were to be defeated, as many environmentalists believe it must be. "If the signal that sends is that no new pipelines will be built across the U.S. border for carrying oil-sands product," Leach says, "that’s going to have an impact not just on Koch leases, but on everybody’s asset value in oil sands." Ironically, what’s best for Koch’s tar-sands interests is what the Obama administration is currently delivering: "They’re actually ahead if Keystone XL gets delayed a while but hangs around as something that still might happen," Leach says.
The Dodd-Frank bill was supposed to put an end to economy endangering speculation in the $700 trillion global derivatives market. But Koch has managed to defend – and even expand – its turf, trading in largely unregulated derivatives, once dubbed "financial weapons of mass destruction" by billionaire Warren Buffett.
In theory, the Enron Loophole is no longer open – the government now has the power to police manipulation in the market for energy derivatives. But the Obama administration has not yet been able to come up with new rules that actually do so. In 2011, the CFTC mandated "position limits" on derivative trades of oil and other commodities. These would have blocked any single speculator from owning futures contracts representing more than a quarter of the physical market – reducing the danger of manipulation. As part of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, which also reps many Wall Street giants including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, Koch fought these new restrictions. ISDA sued to block the position limits – and won in court in September 2012. Two years later, CFTC is still spinning its wheels on a replacement. Industry traders like Koch are, Greenberger says, "essentially able to operate as though the Enron Loophole were still in effect."
Koch is also reaping the benefits from Dodd-Frank’s impacts on Wall Street. The so-called Volcker Rule, implemented at the end of last year, bans investment banks from "proprietary trading" – investing on their own behalf in securities and derivatives. As a result, many Wall Street banks are unloading their commodities-trading units. But Volcker does not apply to nonbank traders like Koch. They’re now able to pick up clients who might previously have traded with JPMorgan. In its marketing materials for its trading operations, Koch boasts to potential clients that it can provide "physical and financial market liquidity at times when others pull back." Koch also likely benefits from loopholes that exempt the company from posting collateral for derivatives trades and allow it to continue trading swaps without posting the transactions to a transparent electronic exchange. Though competitors like BP and Cargill have registered with the CFTC as swaps dealers – subjecting their trades to tightened regulation – Koch conspicuously has not. "Koch is compliant with all CFTC regulations, including those relating to swaps dealers," says Holden, the Koch lawyer.
That a massive company with such a troubling record as Koch Industries remains unfettered by financial regulation should strike fear in the heart of anyone with a stake in the health of the American economy. Though Koch has cultivated a reputation as an economically conservative company, it has long flirted with danger. And that it has not suffered a catastrophic loss in the past 15 years would seem to be as much about luck as about skillful management.
The Kochs have brushed up against some of the major debacles of the crisis years. In 2007, as the economy began to teeter, Koch was gearing up to plunge into the market for credit default swaps, even creating an affiliate, Koch Financial Products, for that express purpose. KFP secured a AAA rating from Moody’s and reportedly sought to buy up toxic assets at the center of the financial crisis at up to 50-times leverage. Ultimately, Koch Industries survived the experiment without losing its shirt.
More recently, Koch was exposed to the fiasco at MF Global, the disgraced brokerage firm run by former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine that improperly dipped into customer accounts to finance reckless bets on European debt. Koch, one of MF Global’s top clients, reportedly told trading partners it was switching accounts about a month before the brokerage declared bankruptcy – then the eighth-largest in U.S. history. Koch says the decision to pull its funds from MF Global was made more than a year before. While MF’s small-fry clients had to pick at the carcass of Corzine’s company to recoup their assets, Koch was already swimming free and clear.
Because it’s private, no one outside of Koch Industries knows how much risk Koch is taking – or whether it could conceivably create systemic risk, a concern raised in 2013 by the head of the Futures Industry Association. But this much is for certain: Because of the loopholes in financial-regulatory reform, the next company to put the American economy at risk may not be a Wall Street bank but a trading giant like Koch. In 2012, Gary Gensler, then CFTC chair, railed against the very loopholes Koch appears to be exploiting, raising the specter of AIG. "[AIG] had this massive risk built up in its derivatives just because it called itself an insurance company rather than a bank," Gensler said. When Congress adopted Dodd-Frank, Gensler added, it never intended to exempt financial heavy hitters just because "somebody calls themselves an insurance
In "the science of success," Charles Koch highlights the problems created when property owners "don’t benefit from all the value they create and don’t bear the full cost from whatever value they destroy." He is particularly concerned about the "tragedy of the commons," in which shared resources are abused because there’s no individual accountability. "The biggest problems in society," he writes, "have occurred in those areas thought to be best controlled in common: the atmosphere, bodies of water, air. . . ."
But in the real world, Koch Industries has used its political might to beat back the very market-based mechanisms – including a cap-and-trade market for carbon pollution – needed to create the ownership rights for pollution that Charles says would improve the functioning of capitalism.
In fact, it appears the very essence of the Koch business model is to exploit breakdowns in the free market. Koch has profited precisely by dumping billions of pounds of pollutants into our waters and skies – essentially for free. It racks up enormous profits from speculative trades lacking economic value that drive up costs for consumers and create risks for our economy.
The Koch brothers get richer as the costs of what Koch destroys are foisted on the rest of us – in the form of ill health, foul water and a climate crisis that threatens life as we know it on this planet. Now nearing 80 – owning a large chunk of the Alberta tar sands and using his billions to transform the modern Republican Party into a protection racket for Koch Industries’ profits – Charles Koch is not about to see the light. Nor does the CEO of one of America’s most toxic firms have any notion of slowing down. He has made it clear that he has no retirement plans: "I’m going to ride my bicycle till I fall off."Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
University of Kentucky researchers today harvested the university’s first hemp crop in decades – and one of the first legal crops used in research trials.
“It was a good growing season for many crops, not just hemp,” said David Williams, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment agronomist and co-project lead. “Precipitation was excellent this year and more than adequate for growth. The only downside to the growing season was that we planted a little bit late, but I don’t think that had much effect on the crop.”
UK’s research plot, planted May 27, was one of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s pilot studies to reintroduce hemp production in Kentucky. UK’s study was conducted in conjunction with Eastern Kentucky University and Kentucky State University.
“This crop will yield significant data about production techniques, which varieties do best in Kentucky and which of the many uses of hemp are most likely to succeed here,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who has championed the cause of returning hemp production to the commonwealth.
Kentucky was a national leader in hemp production before the crop was outlawed in the United States due to its similarity to marijuana. Many agricultural advances have occurred since then, so research trials were necessary to determine the crop’s viability in an ever-changing agricultural economy.
UK researchers used a sickle bar mower to harvest the crop in the same manner that hay is harvested.
“Our plan was to simply lay the crop on the ground where the elements will begin to break down or ‘ret’ the hemp,” said Rich Mundell, co-project lead and an agronomist in the Kentucky Tobacco Research Development Center. “Because the hemp was very tall (about 10 feet) we felt the sickle bar mower would do a better job than a more commonly used disc mower.”
UK’s research project included 13 different varieties managed for either fiber production or seed production.
After the harvest, researchers will analyze and compare the different varieties to find one that’s best suited for the state and then present the results to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A U.S. marijuana advocacy group took steps Wednesday to begin raising money for a campaign to legalize recreational pot use in California in 2016, a move with potential to add a dose of extra excitement to the presidential election year.
The Marijuana Policy Project filed paperwork with the California secretary of state’s office registering a campaign committee to start accepting and spending contributions for a pot legalization initiative on the November 2016 state ballot, the group said.
The measure would be similar to those passed in 2012 by voters in Colorado and Washington, the first U.S. states to legalize commercial sales of marijuana to all adults over 21.
California, long the national leader in illegal marijuana production and home to a thriving, largely unregulated medical marijuana industry, is one of the 21 other states that currently allow marijuana use only for medical reasons. The drug remains illegal under federal law.
"Marijuana prohibition has had an enormously detrimental impact on California communities. It’s been ineffective, wasteful and counterproductive. It’s time for a more responsible approach," Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia said. "Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol just makes sense."
The Washington, D.C.-based group also has established campaign committees to back legalization measures in Arizona, Massachusetts and Nevada in 2016.
Voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia will weigh in on marijuana legalization in November.
Seattle tosses out marijuana tickets
In 2010, California voters rejected a ballot initiative seeking to legalize recreational pot. The measure, just like the medical marijuana law the state approved in 1996, was the first of its kind. But along with opposition from law enforcement and elected officials, Proposition 19 faced unexpected resistance from medical marijuana users and outlaw growers in the state’s so-called Emerald Triangle who worried legalization would lead to plummeting marijuana prices.
Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert predicted no such divisions would surface this time around.
Legal pot, murky jobs: Marijuana laws put workers in tough spot
Citing his group’s experience in Colorado and the advantage of aiming for a presidential election year when voter turnout is higher, Tvert said legalization supporters would use the next two years to build a broad-based coalition and craft ballot language that addresses concerns of particular constituencies.
"Obviously, it’s a whole different landscape in California, where it will cost probably as much or more to just get on the ballot as it did to run a winning campaign after getting on the ballot in Colorado," he said.
League of California Cities lobbyist Tim Cromartie, whose group opposed the state’s 2010 pot legalization initiative and until this year fought legislative efforts to give the state greater oversight of medical marijuana, said Wednesday that it was too soon to say what kind of opposition, if any, would greet a 2016 campaign.
Lynne Lyman, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said her group expects to play a major role in the legalization effort and already has started raising money. Lyman said the goal is to have an initiative written by next summer. She estimated that a pro-legalization campaign would cost $8 million to $12 million.
Even though California would be following in the steps of other states if a 2016 initiative passes, legalizing recreational marijuana use there would have far-reaching implications, Lyman said.
"When an issue is taken up in California, it becomes a national issue," she said. "What we really hope is that with a state this large taking that step, the federal government will be forced to address the ongoing issue of marijuana prohibition."Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
KTVA Anchorage reporter Charlo Greene profanely quit her job at the station in the middle of last night’s newscast. Greene made the announcement immediately following a story on a medical marijuana business, and the revelation that she is the business’s owner.
Greene ended her segment with this:
"Now everything you’ve heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all of my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska. And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, fuck it, I quit."
Greene’s organization is fighting for the passage of Ballot Measure 2, which would legalize recreational amounts of marijuana in Alaska. And, not incidentally, create business for Greene—with Alaska laws as they are, medical marijuana dispensaries currently operate in a legal gray area.
After Greene’s abrupt resignation, KTVA’s news director issued a statement:
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We sincerely apologize for the inappropriate language used by a KTVA reporter during her live presentation on the air tonight. The employee has been terminated.
News Director – KTVA 11 News
The Associated Press September 6, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Freight trains loaded with volatile crude oil crisscross seven Kentucky counties on a weekly basis, carrying loads that emergency management officials in the state know little about.
As many as five CSX Corp. trains carry oil from the upper Great Plains’ Bakken shale fields into Boyd and Greenup counties in northeastern Kentucky. A similar number rolls through Henderson, Webster, Hopkins, Christian and Todd counties in the western part of the state. In all, CSX sends the trains along more than 200 miles of track in Kentucky.
WDRB-TV in Louisville reported (bit.ly/1Cz6r0m) that the trains bypass the state’s largest cities but skirt areas along the Ohio River near the Ohio and West Virginia borders and pass directly through Henderson, Hopkinsville and other cities in western Kentucky.
Until earlier this year, railroads had no obligation to notify communities where large quantities of that oil rumbled past their schools, homes and businesses. The limited disclosures shed some light on the routes of trains carrying flammable oil extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," of rock formations in North Dakota.
"They don’t tell us what days, what cars — other than it’s going to be a million gallons," said Larry Koerber, Henderson County’s emergency management director. "And they’re only doing it because they’re required by law."
In May, the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered railroad companies to inform each state in which individual trains carry 1 million gallons of Bakken crude oil. The move came after several derailments in the U.S. and Canada "demonstrated the need for emergency action to address unsafe conditions or practices in the shipment of petroleum crude oil by rail."
Oil-by-rail shipments have increased in recent years as oil is extracted from an area where the existing pipeline network can’t keep up with demand. There were 407,761 carloads of crude oil shipped last year in the U.S., up from 9,500 in 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Federal inspectors have determined that Bakken is more flammable than other crude oil — a result of a higher gas content, lower flash and boiling points and a higher vapor pressure — and the tank car most commonly used to ship it is "not an adequate container" if a derailment occurs.
CSX is the only railroad operator in Kentucky with oil volumes large enough to warrant telling the state.
The company has agreed to safety measures, including new braking systems for trains with at least 20 carloads of crude oil; increased inspections of rail lines carrying longer trains; lower speeds in congested areas; and funding for first responders. A company spokeswoman said in a statement that CSX met a July 1 deadline for more track inspections, lower speed limits and installing monitors to detect problems with train wheels.
The company asked all states through which it ships Bakken crude to agree to withhold some information from the public, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
In Todd County, near the Kentucky border with Tennessee, the same railroad runs through Trenton and Guthrie, said Tim Pulley, the county’s top emergency management official. Those cities account for about 15 percent of all residents of the 12,500-person county, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Pulley said he was unaware that trains carrying crude oil were passing through Todd County until he met in early August with CSX officials.
"The track goes right through the heart of both of them," Pulley said. "That’s a big chunk of our population."
A CSX train derailed on the line near Guthrie in 2011, sending as many as 20 cars into nearby fields but causing no injuries.
Christian County emergency management director Randy Graham said he has requested 19 copies of oil-train education videos from CSX to give to fire departments in the area.
"We’ve just got to have a lot more area that would have to be partitioned off and people evacuated and that type of thing," Graham said.
Information from: WDRB-TV, http://www.fox41.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Jack Brammer
firstname.lastname@example.org September 6, 2014
FRANKFORT — Under a broiling sun Thursday in front of the Kentucky Capitol, House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover explained and expounded on his vision for a Republican-led state House.
With about 20 candidates from the Grand Old Party behind him, Hoover talked about overhauling the tax code, repealing an expansion of Medicaid under "Obamacare," passing "right-to-work" legislation that would allow people to work in businesses that have unions without joining the union, creating medical review panels to curb frivolous lawsuits, and implementing a host of other conservative proposals.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he was glad Hoover held the news conference — the last one of a three-day media tour in the state to tout House Republican candidates.
"It’s a waste of time for them. The House is going to stay Democratic," Stumbo predicted.
An intense political struggle is underway in the Bluegrass State for control of the state House in the Nov. 4 elections.
Democrats have dominated it since 1921, but Republicans have been steadily gaining on them in the last 20 years.
In 1994, Democrats outnumbered Republicans 71-29 in the House. That dipped to 64-35 in 2004. This year, it stands at 54-46.
Democrats and Republicans agree on at least one thing: Much is at stake.
Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, is concerned his last two years in office could by stymied if Republicans control both the House and Senate. Republicans took over the Senate in 2000 and maintain a solid grip on the upper chamber.
Beshear, who has been on the campaign trail for House Democratic candidates, dismissed the House GOP’s media tour and "Handshake with Kentucky" legislative platform as "the same old stuff they have touted for years."
"They want to reduce taxes on the wealthy and put more of the tax burden on the middle class," Beshear said. "They want to take away health care for 500,000 Kentuckians who just got it, many for the first time. They do not support the minimum wage. To me, it’s the same-old same-old."
Hoover, a Jamestown attorney who concedes that he would like to replace Stumbo as House speaker, said the future of Kentucky is at stake.
"The people will have to decide if we are going to continue the status quo of high unemployment," Hoover said. "Are we going to do things differently? Are we going to change the landscape to create more jobs?"
Stumbo, who has been House speaker since 2009, said Kentuckians need only look at what has happened in other states where "radical Republicans" took over in recent years to understand what’s at stake.
"You have teacher strikes, labor unrest, economic development halts," Stumbo said. "Kentucky is coming out of a major national recession that started with Republicans. We don’t want to go back."
Stumbo especially scoffed at two major pledges in the House Republican "Handshake" platform: ending corruption in the Kentucky House and passing a constitutional amendment that would presumably block implementation of parts of the federal health care law.
"They want to pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit any person or employer being forced to participate in a care system. That’s unconstitutional," he said.
Stumbo noted that the Affordable Care Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court has declared constitutional, includes a penalty provision for people who do not get health insurance.
"The Republicans want to opt out of federal law," Stumbo said. "That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Sounds like they want to boost states’ rights when we had things like slavery."
Hoover laughed when told Stumbo said the GOP amendment was unconstitutional.
"My understanding is that other states have passed or proposed such legislation," Hoover said. "I hear a lot of Kentuckians say they have real problems with mandated coverage. I threw it out there and it’s something we’re going to look at."
Hoover and GOP leaders also want to repeal an expansion of Medicaid that Beshear implemented under the federal health law, saying Kentucky could face a financial crisis if the move isn’t reversed.
As of July 31, more than 521,000 Kentuckians had enrolled in coverage through Kynect, the health insurance exchange created by Beshear under the federal law. The majority of those enrolled received Medicaid, the government-funded insurance program for the poor and disabled.
The percentage of adults without health insurance in Kentucky has dropped from 20.4 percent last year to less than 12 percent, the second largest decline among the states since the federal law took effect in January, according to a Gallup poll released last month.
The federal government is paying the entire cost of the expansion for the first few years, but that drops to 90 percent in coming years.
"Where are we going to pick up the cost for this? $300 million? $500 million? $600 million?" Hoover asked. "Somebody has to talk about picking up the cost."
Stumbo also derided the GOP’s pledge to end corruption in the Kentucky House.
Hoover this week regularly mentioned the ongoing sexual harassment scandal in the House when talking about the GOP pledge.
Sexual harassment lawsuits have been filed against former Democratic Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis. Democrat Will Coursey of Symsonia in Graves County, who is in a tight re-election fight, also has been sued on allegations that he retaliated against a Legislative Research Commission employee after she made claims about his behavior.
Both Arnold and Coursey deny any wrongdoing.
Stumbo said it’s odd that Republicans are talking about ending corruption. He highlighted three controversies involving Republicans:
■ State Rep. Ben Waide of Madisonville is under state indictment for alleged campaign finance violations but claims he did nothing wrong.
■ U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville is under investigation by a House ethics panel over allegations that his wife — a lobbyist for the U.S. Humane Society Legislative Fund — improperly lobbied him on behalf of legislation he is sponsoring related to show horses. He has said there was no wrongdoing.
■ Ernie Fletcher, who was governor from 2003 to 2007, was indicted in a state hiring scandal. Fletcher issued several pardons and the investigation was ended by an agreement in 2006 between Fletcher and Stumbo, who was then attorney general.
Besides a war of words on issues, the House Democrats and Republicans are conducting vigorous campaigns and trying to raise as much money as possible to pay for them.
Western Kentucky, where Republicans have gained ground in recent House elections, continues to be a prime potential spot for Republican victories, said Hoover.
He also noted that the 39th House District race in Jessamine and parts of Fayette County seems to be extremely tight.
In that race, Democrat Russ Meyer and Republican Jonah Mitchell, both of Nicholasville, are seeking to replace Democrat Bob Damron, who is running for Jessamine County judge-executive.
Last month, WHAS-TV in Louisville and CN2’s Pure Politics reported that at least six Republican state House candidates had complained that they were the targets of telephone polls that gave positive statements about the Democratic candidate before listing "possible criticisms" of the Republican candidate.
Stumbo acknowledged that Democrats have "tested" messages. "They are truthful," he said.
It’s possible the Nov. 4 elections could produce a 50-50 split in the House, but Stumbo and Hoover downplay the possibility.
"I believe if we can even get close to 50, there would be some Democrats in the House who would switch to Republicans," Hoover said.
Stumbo said "terrible gridlock" has occurred in states where an even split has occurred.
Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted Online: Sept. 06, 2014, 5:31 pm
His gait is slow, and his eyelids often battle against the weight of sleep. Benton Mackenzie struggles, pausing to rest on each step as he climbs to the main floor of his parents’ two-story home, tucked between Eldridge and Long Grove. His eyes close and his back hunches from the effort as he finally reaches the top step. Enveloped in a heavy blanket, the 48-year-old takes halting steps towards the dining room table. He stops to arrange a stack of pillows on his chair then sinks down, his face clenched in pain, the shape of his tumors obvious beneath the folds of his gray sweatpants.
The bulbous cysts are painful reminders of an aggressive form of cancer he has tried to combat by growing marijuana and self-treating with cannabis oil. Benton says the oil — which has low amounts of THC, the psychoactive chemical that makes smokers high — has kept his tumors at bay for more than four years. Illegal in Iowa, his actions drew the attention of Scott County prosecutors.
In May, a Scott County jury convicted Benton, wife Loretta and their son, Cody, 22, of marijuana charges related to 71 plants and paraphernalia found at the home the family shares with Benton’s parents.
"He wasn’t bothering anybody, he wasn’t even telling anybody. And here’s all these people who are salivating over this," his mother, Dorothy "Dottie" Mackenzie, 75, said. "It has gotten to be a joke."
The family is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Davenport before Scott County Judge Henry Latham II.
Benton maintains that his crime was nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or more precisely, the wrong state.
Scott County attorney Mike Walton has said he had no choice but to prosecute, given Benton’s prior convictions, including possession of magic mushrooms in 2000 and a 2010 cannabis arrest. In the latter case, Benton maintained he was producing oil for treatment that was more effective than rounds of painful chemotherapy. "Those are his reasons for breaking the law," Mr. Walton said.
Benton continues to defend those reasons with scripture, medical research and by citing the spread of medical marijuana laws around the country. "It is not lawful to stand idly by while somebody else suffers," he said.
Recently back from a trip to Portland, Ore. — where he can buy cannabis oil for medical use — Benton said he was struck by the difference in attitudes, compared to Iowa, where he is currently required to live due to probation restrictions. "It was very refreshing, and overwhelming at the same time," he said. "We weren’t prepared for that much reception."
Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Act was passed in 1998. About 65,000 medical marijuana cards are issued to state residents for conditions ranging from cancer and epilepsy to post traumatic stress and Alzheimer’s, according to the Oregon Health Authority. The state also is gearing up to vote in November over whether to legalize recreational marijuana.
The trip to Portland — which Judge Latham did not object to — was hard on Benton, whose plane ride was made bearable by morphine-based painkillers.
"It was torture," he said. "It’s almost getting to the point where if I don’t take first class, I just can’t fit in the seat."
Benton draws the blanket tighter around his shoulders as he talks, his voice at times reaching barely above a whisper.
His parents’ home around him is cheerfully decorated, brimming with antiques, framed family pictures and paintings done by his brother.
But the quiet family scene was interrupted last June when heavily armed police officers swarmed outside.
Loretta answered the door to guns pointed in her face and shouts of "Get on the floor!" the family said.
"They’ve actually treated this family like we’re some sort of a mafia family or something," Loretta said. "The kind of gusto they put into it … I mean, 20 SWAT agents at 5:45 a.m.?"
Loretta gave up her job to care for Benton after his diagnosis with angiosarcoma in 2011 and, during the recent trial, plumped pillows, fetched water, juggled doctor visits and accompanied him to the hospital after he suffered dizziness and hallucinations.
She spoke excitedly about the family’s trip to Portland. "It’s been amazing. They’ve had the freedom for so many years to innovate with cannabis science. I mean, everybody had their own recipe for tinctures and oils: ‘Use this stuff for burns; use this stuff for aches and pains.’ And, it all works."
After landing, they went to a local dispensary to get cannabis oil and cannabis juice, the taste of which Benton likened to wheat grass or "grass clippings."
They were not allowed to bring the cannabis products back to Iowa.
Frustratingly for the family, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed into a law a medical marijuana bill in May that only allowed epileptics and their caregivers to legally purchase cannabis oil.
"That’s the nature of the bill," Benton said. "With the oil that I need — if I had epilepsy I could bring it back."
Since the Mackenzie family was convicted, supporters have collected more than 16,000 signatures to petition Gov. Branstad to pardon the family.
Jimmy Centers, a spokesman for the governor, declined to comment on whether Gov. Branstad would consider a pardon, saying it was "premature to offer an opinion on a case" prior to sentencing.
Portland provided the Mackenzies a brief reprieve from thinking about the case.
They were invited to speak on the Internet-based show "Cannabis Common Sense," hosted by Paul Stanford.
Loretta ended up doing most of the talking after Benton started to nod off, drained of energy from taking stronger doses of oil than he was used to so he could make up for treatment time lost.
"Every time I’m forced to be without it, or am just without it, it takes so much more coming back to be as effective as it was before," he said.
In Iowa, it’s clear that the family’s paranoia about being targeted by police has not lessened since the trial. At one point during dinner, conversation among the four adults abruptly halted as they strained to watch a black SUV drive slowly past the house.
"They still drive around here," Dottie said, shaking her head.
They had brief relief last month when prosecutor Patrick McElyea dropped charges against Dottie and husband Charles "Chuck" Mackenzie, 76, saying there was no evidence to suggest they hosted a drug house.
The aging couple said they repeatedly declined plea deals offered by prosecutors, in the hope of going to trial and telling their son’s story.
Despite showing up to court in a wheelchair and bandages, Benton’s medical condition was kept secret from jurors, as were his reasons for growing the cannabis plants.
Judge Latham prohibited Benton from using his medical condition as a legal defense, based on the 2005 Iowa Supreme Court decision in State v. Bonjour, in which an AIDS patient arrested for growing marijuana was barred from using a medical defense.
Benton repeatedly challenged Judge Latham’s decision, pointing to Bible passages, such as Genesis 1:29, to argue that God created "seed-bearing plants" — including cannabis — for human use.
"He has never been one to let rules stop him if the rule is stupid," Dottie said. "Rules always had to make sense to Ben."
The family dreams of one day moving to Oregon, where Benton could legally grow and purchase marijuana to manage his cancer.
Plans are cloudier if the sentencing puts them in prison jumpsuits. With the extensive care and treatment Benton requires, the family can’t imagine what imprisonment would mean for them.
"I’m certain that Ben’s case is not the only case of somebody who is using marijuana to treat medical issues," Loretta said. "People are too scared to fight, and I think, if anything, they’re looking at this and saying ‘Wow.’ I think some people will come out of the closet."
Chuck, thinks marijuana has been unfairly demonized at the expense of those who need it.
"People are afraid of it — you see people, you say marijuana, and they equate it with somebody laying down on a street corner, smoking," Chuck said. "And that’s not what this is about."
For now, Benton remains in pain, his family praying for a miracle. He says he is waiting for the "punchline" to all of this.
"I think it’s built to a point where it has to make a change," Benton said. "Something is going to happen because of it. It’s un-ignorable."
Months ago, the isolationism of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was so extreme that I said he might as well be President Bashar Assad’s man in Washington, referring to the Syrian dictator and murderer at a time when Rand Paul was following the policy of Ron Paul of extreme non-intervention. Times have changed, or shall I say Rand Paul’s calculations have changed, so his positions have changed.
Now Sen. Paul mocks President Obama over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and vows to be a super-hawk going after ISIS. I guess when it’s time to raise campaign money for a presidential campaign, and time to court neoconservatives, and time to appeal to a GOP that does not favor extreme isolationism, the new Rand Paul now debates the old Rand Paul, while he throws under the bus the principled stand of the only true Ron Paul.
When Rand Paul suggests that Obama has created a "jihadist wonderland," can he deny every jihadi in the world would have spent recent years cheering Rand Paul’s extremism isolationism? He not only reveals a lack of depth and commitment on national security, and reveals the kind of shallow opportunism that voters reject in politicians today, but he abandons the long legacy of the principled foreign policy of Ron Paul.
Regarding Iraq, I agreed with Ron Paul and opposed the invasion of Iraq by Bush 43, while on some other issues I disagreed with his noninterventionism. But Ron Paul, unlike Rand Paul, took a highly principled position, which I respect.
At various times Rand Paul has been against action on Syria before he was for it. He was for cutting aid to Israel before he was against it. At one point, he appeared to be for and against action against Iran at the same time. Rand Paul’s views on national security are like the old soap opera "As the World Turns." What will Rand Paul believe tomorrow about war and peace? Who knows? In presidential politics, unlike Ron Paul, it is political calculation that determines Rand Paul’s military policies in what may be titled "As Rand Paul Turns."
Folks, the gentleman from Kentucky is not ready to be commander-in-chief, not even close. He makes Barack Obama look like British Prime Minister Winston Churchill by comparison. And now he throws Ron Paul’s foreign policy position under the bus, which will not persuade neoconservatives or mainline Republicans that he is ready to be commander-in-chief, but may persuade many Ron Paul supporters that like father is not always like son.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at email@example.com.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Jordan Fifer and Jeff Sturgeon | The Roanoke Times
A group of protesters who unfurled a large banner criticizing coal magnate Jim Justice and the practices of his Roanoke-based mining company caused a spectacle in downtown Roanoke on Thursday morning, prompting a large police and fire response to take down the display.
Five people were brought away in handcuffs after the sign was strung between two midrise buildings shortly after 9 a.m., spanning busy Jefferson Street.
The sign was in protest of Justice, who lives in West Virginia but bases his company Southern Coal Corp. in Roanoke, three doors down from where the banner was hung. Southern Coal has been the target of state and federal regulators and activists for numerous documented environmental problems at 30 company mines in five states, including Virginia.
“JIM JUSTICE PROFITS APPALACHIA PAYS,” read black letters on one side of the large white banner, while the reverse claimed, “JIM JUSTICE: TOXIC SPILL BILLIONAIRE.”
The five — identified as Rebecca Marie Holmes, 23, of Wise County; Heather Glasgow Doyle, 30, of Blacksburg; Kyle Scott Gibson, 28, of Wise County; William E. Blevins, 32, of Wise County; and Catherine Ann MacDougal, 27, of Gloucester, Massachusetts — were charged with interfering with the property rights of the building owners, a misdemeanor, police spokesman Scott Leamon said. Each was granted a $1,500 secured bond but remained in jail as of Thursday afternoon.
Three groups with an environmental bent, two of them Appalachia-focused, claimed to have had a role in the banner incident. One, Mountain Justice, describes its goal as to “seek to save our mountains, streams and forest from greedy coal companies,” according to its website.
Another group, Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival, also known as RAMPS and based in West Virginia, describes itself as “a non-violent direct action campaign” against strip mining. The third group that said it had a role, Rising Tide North America, based in San Francisco, is “confronting the root causes of climate change,” its website says.
D. Steele, a 23-year-old from Matewan, West Virginia, who gave only his first initial, said he was with RAMPS. As the demonstration wrapped up, he said the group aimed “to make Jim Justice be accountable for his unfair business and environmental practices.”
As of July, federal regulators were tracking 277 unabated or uncorrected environmental violations dating to 2011 at Justice company mines in Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee, said a spokesman for the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, a federal agency that polices mine operators. “Civil penalties are piling up,” Chris Holmes said.
The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has begun proceedings to seize money placed in safekeeping by the company to guarantee reclamation of disturbed mined land at four Wise County locations. The Justice companies are appealing that state action, and Justice has said reclamation of those mines would be premature.
Justice, who could not be reached Thursday, has said most of the 277 violations were paperwork-related. “I’m cleaning it up,” he said in July.
In the view of the Roanoke protesters, Justice is an environmental scofflaw.
“He chooses the cheapest practices at the expense of his own employees,” said 32-year-old Erin McKelvy of Lee County, who said she belongs to Mountain Justice and came out to support the cause. “For somebody who’s a billionaire, you would think he would be able to do a good job, pay off his debts and clean up the messes he’s made.”
Police and fire crews closed about a block off Jefferson Street between Campbell Avenue and Church Street for about 90 minutes while they removed the banner and escorted the protesters down from atop two buildings.
The protesters “had attached themselves to the base of the banner, using their weight to anchor it, and declined to move,” Leamon said.
The owner of one of the buildings asked police to remove the sign, he said.
Roanoke Fire-EMS Deputy Chief Jeff Beckner, who was on one of the roofs, said the protesters offered no resistance during their arrests.
Police confiscated climbing equipment in bookbags including carabiners, yellow safety vests and rope, police Sgt. J.H. Bowdel said. A photo posted on Facebook showed the protesters wearing the vests on the roof.
“Everyone made sure to take all the necessary precautions to protect themselves and everyone else,” Steele said.
No one was injured, he said, describing the incident as a deliberate public act to try to create public pressure without regard to what he called “the legality of the tactics.”
The protest became a midmorning spectacle, with perhaps 60 to 70 workers and pedestrians milling about and stopping to take photos.
Some said they supported the protesters’ efforts but were unsure what the cause was about. A few said though they supported the right to protest, it should be done in a safe way.
“You got to realize that you got this hanging up right here and it’s caused a lot of businesses problems, and also you got the law involved over something stupid hanging up,” said Roger Simmons of Roanoke. “If that thing falls down and lands on a car, you’re going to have a big accident right now.”
Asked about any public safety risk of the protesters’ efforts, McKelvy said people should be more worried about the message the group was spreading.
“The public safety concern is what Justice and his company is doing,” she said.
- Justice mining company loses lawsuit over layoff in Wise County
- Jim Justice coal protesters won’t receive jail time, but may see fine
The campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has resigned as a result of the ongoing scandal involving the 2012 presidential campaign of former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
Jesse Benton joined the McConnell campaign for the 2014 cycle, after several years as an important member of the political organizations of Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky’s other U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. Benton previously managed Rand Paul’s 2010 Senate campaign, and then served as political director for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. In addition, he is married to one of Ron Paul’s granddaughters.
This past week, a former Iowa state senator pled guilty to accepting payments of $73,000, which were laundered by members of the Ron Paul campaign, to switch his endorsement away from Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and over to Paul. However, no individuals have actually been charged as of yet with making the payments.
For his own part, Benton is denying any allegations that he may have known about the payments. "I hope those who know me recognize that I strive to be a man of integrity," Benton said in a statement. "The press accounts and rumors are particularly hurtful because they are false."
Benton also said that the reelection of McConnell, who is in a close race against Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes, was the most important political cause for Kentucky and the country: "I believe this deep in my bones, and I would never allow anything or anyone to get in the way. That includes myself."
- – Eric KleefeldRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Production is going from 46.3 pounds to 1,433 pounds – but it’s unclear where the extra pot is going.
Marijuana is seen in this 1999 photo at the University of Mississippi. The school cultivates and supplies research-grade cannabis in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
By Steven Nelson Aug. 26, 2014
The Drug Enforcement Administration offered the production bump – from 46.3 pounds to 1,433 pounds – for public comment on May 5.
One person submitted a comment, which was supportive.
“The DEA appreciates the support for this adjusted 2014 aggregate production quota for marijuana which will provide for the estimated scientific, research and industrial needs of the United States,” a Tuesday notice in the Federal Register says.
“The DEA has taken into consideration the one comment received during the 30-day period and the administrator has determined,” the notice says, the increase is appropriate.
The DEA gave preapproval to the increase in late April, citing urgent need for National Institute on Drug Abuse-facilitated research. But, the DEA said in a May notice, all comments from the public would be taken into consideration.
NIDA, part of the National Institutes of Health, grows marijuana for approved research in partnership with the University of Mississippi.
The increase was necessary because the DEA underestimated researchers’ need when it calculated the initial annual quota in September.
In its May notice the DEA said it simply couldn’t wait for public comment before making the correction.
“Due to the manufacturing process unique to marijuana, including the length of time and conditions necessary to propagate and process the substance for distribution in 2014, it is necessary to adjust the initial, established 2014 aggregate production quota for marijuana as soon as practicable,” the DEA said. “Accordingly, the administrator finds good cause to adjust the aggregate production quota for marijuana before accepting written comments from interested persons or holding a public hearing.”
A spokesman for the DEA referred questions about the increase to NIDA. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the uptick in demand. It’s unclear how much marijuana has been produced to date this year.
A NIDA official told The Washington Post in May the agency was funding more than 100 grants for marijuana research, including 30 studies of the plant’s “therapeutic uses." Critics say the agency disproportionately funds research into the downside of pot use.
DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, who signed the Tuesday notice, is a critic of liberalizing marijuana laws. Leonhart refused to say during a June 2012 congressional hearing if marijuana is less harmful than crack or heroin. In January she criticized President Barack Obama for saying smoking pot is less harmful than drinking alcohol.
"Marijuana is so popular these days with voters, lawmakers and researchers that even the DEA can’t continue to ignore it,” says Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell.
But Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access, isn’t cheering. He finds the increase "very fishy" and says he cannot recall a previous time the quota was offered for public comment.
Hermes also notes the annual pot-production quota was once higher.
In fact, throughout the Bush administration the quota was much higher. From 2005-2009 the annual quota was about 9,920 pounds, according to DEA fact sheets. Before that, from 2002-2004, the quota was about 1,852 pounds and in 2001 it was 1,100 pounds.
The quota hovered at 46.3 pounds beginning in 2010. Hermes says he doesn’t know why the quota dropped so dramatically that year.
Editorial Cartoons on Pot Legalization
"They still aren’t divulging why the quota is increasing and why it’s not increasing how much it has in the past," Hermes says. "It’s shrouded in secrecy."
About half of U.S. states currently allow marijuana for medical use. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have established regulated recreational marijuana markets. Alaska and Oregon voters may legalize pot under state law in November and Florida voters may adopt medical marijuana. Despite liberalizing state laws, marijuana remains an illegal Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Fox News.com Aug 28, 2014
When you think about green travel, it usually means an eco-friendly resort or destination.
That’s not the case anymore, as “green” has taken on a new meaning with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington – and the corresponding increase in tourism to both states. For the purpose of this story, I’ll focus on Colorado, but many tips cover both states.
Travelers looking for a ski vacation later this year may want to skip Utah or Tahoe, and head to Colorado instead. We are already seeing a direct spike in visitors tied exclusively to the legalization of marijuana, but the lure of legal marijuana could end up increasing tourism to all areas of the state.
Entrepreneurs are actively going after this market by packaging tours around the idea of getting high, but you can just as easily do it on your own. Land in Denver and the information desk will direct you to any one of the numerous outlets where you can legally purchase marijuana and enjoy a hazy break from the ordinary without worry of arrest.
Related: In Aspen, Even the Weed is Luxurious
Here are the seven things you need to consider before you head out on that stoner trip:
Know there is a limit: If you come from out of state you must be 21 years of age and hold a valid form of identification, most often a driver’s license or passport. If you have that covered, the limit for your purchase is a quarter of an ounce. For in-state residents it is a full ounce.
Find a quiet spot to light up: You cannot smoke in public or in most hotels, so finding a legal spot to light up may be your biggest challenge. Ask your hotel front desk or concierge for smoking clubs, lounges, or a safe spot to smoke. If you are out in the mountains, find some open space and go about your business. It may be illegal and land you a fine, but there is a good chance you won’t have any issues. Never smoke in your rental car since any intent to drive would lead to a DUI arrest, even if the car is not turned on.
Don’t overdo it: You can smoke it, but you can also eat it in packages resembling protein bars they sell at many health food stores. Instead of giving you a nutritional lift, they’ll send you to a very different place. Look at the equivalent dose you might get from any pot bar to avoid getting yourself in trouble. Some bars have 10 times the average dose you might get from smoking a joint, sending you into an uncomfortable state or even the hospital.
Don’t drive, period: Driving under the influence of pot can lead to arrest, even if you exhibit no indications of impairment. The express consent law in Colorado details that drivers automatically give consent to have their blood or breath tested if an officer has any probable cause to believe he or she is impaired.
Don’t leave the state with any marijuana: Enjoy your legal marijuana experience in Colorado or Washington, but leave whatever you don’t use in those states. If you bring back excess pot, it could result in a steep fine or, depending on the amount and any previous convictions, actual jail time.
Don’t even think about selling your excess stash: Are you ready to head back home even though you are still sitting on some great weed? Give it away, but don’t try to sell it. Trade it for a Rockies jersey or anything else. Asking for money in exchange of the drug is illegal and could result in fines or worse.
Look up state rules before heading out on your marijuana tour. These laws are subject to change, so make sure you have the latest information to make a safe, and legal, trip.
First Marijuana edibles store opens in Washington State
Neuroscientists found that extremely low doses of a compound found in marijuana may slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported that neuroscientists using a cellular model of Alzheimer’s found low doses of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) reduced the production of amyloid beta, and prevented abnormal accumulation, which is one of the early signs of the memory-loss disease.
“Decreased levels of amyloid beta means less aggregation, which may protect against the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Since THC is a natural and relatively safe amyloid inhibitor, THC or its analogs may help us develop an effective treatment in the future,” said lead author Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist and PhD at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy.
Neuroscientists also found THC enhanced mitochondrial function which is needed to supply energy, transmit signals and maintain a healthy brain.
“THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, but this is the first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation, and enhancing mitochondrial function,” Cao said.
The research noted that the therapeutic benefits of THC at low doses appear greater than the associated risks of toxicity and memory impairment.
“Are we advocating that people use illicit drugs to prevent the disease? No,” study co-author Neel Nabar said. “However, these findings may lead to the development of related compounds that are safe, legal, and useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”
As many as 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, with the numbers projected to reach 14 million by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Phillip Smith
Canada’s “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery has finally returned to Canada after spending just over 4 ½ years in US federal prison for selling marijuana seeds over the Internet. From his base in Vancouver, BC, Emery parlayed his pot seed profits into a pro-marijuana legalization political juggernaut.
Not only did the gregarious former libertarian bookseller relentlessly hassle Canadian and American drug warriors — including the dour then-drug czar, John Walters — he published Cannabis Culture magazine, created the BC Marijuana Party and helped turn parts of downtown Vancouver’s Hasting Street into a Western Hemisphere Amsterdam, complete with a vaporizer lounge and several other cannabis-related enterprises.
Emery also put a bunch of his money — several hundred thousand dollars — into financing marijuana reform efforts on the US side of the border. It’s hard to say what, exactly, got him in the sights of US law enforcement, but when he was arrested by Canadian police at the behest of US authorities, the DEA was certainly quick to gloat that it had struck a blow against the forces of legalization.
The US eventually got its pound of flesh from Emery, forcing him into a plea bargain — to protect his coworkers — that saw him sentenced to five years in federal prison for his seed selling. Emery did his time, was released from prison earlier this summer, then sent to a private deportation detention facility in the US before going home to Canada less than two weeks ago.
But if US and Canadian authorities thought they had silenced one of the biggest thorns in their side, they should have known better. Nearly five years in prison hasn’t exactly mellowed Emery; instead, he is more committed than ever to drug war justice, and he’s raring to go.
The Chronicle spoke with him via phone at his home in Vancouver Monday. The topics ranged from prison life to marijuana legalization in the US to Canadian election politics and beyond.
“If you go to jail for the right reasons you can continue to be an inspiration,” Emery said. “I got a lot of affirmation, thousands of letters, people helped to cover my bills, and that’s a testament to my influence. My experience was very positive. I network well and try to live in the present moment, just dealing with what’s going on.”
Still, Emery needed about $180,000 to get through those 4 ½ years behind bars, including more than $18,000 in email costs — it isn’t cheap for federal prisoners to send emails, but for Emery, keeping his voice heard in the outside world was a necessity. He reports having received between $70,000 and $80,000 in donations while in the slammer.
“That still left Jodie doing the near impossible,” he said. She traveled from Canada to the southern US 81 times to visit her husband, visiting him on 164 days and spending a like amount of time in transit. If it weren’t for Jodie Emery, prison would have been a much lonelier place, as it is for most inmates.
“In my prison, there were 1,700 prisoners, but on an average weekend, only 25 were getting a visit,” Emery noted, adding that most inmates were either black or brown. “And other than Jodie, only seven people came to visit me.”
While Emery waited in prison, the world continued to turn, and he has emerged into a different place. Now, two US states and Uruguay have legalized marijuana outright, and two more states and the District of Columbia are likely to do so this fall. For the Prince of Pot, it’s all good.
“I like that Washington and Colorado went for two different models, although I think the Colorado model is better and has been more quickly executed,” he said. “In both places, prices haven’t really dropped, but they will once other states come on board. It has been really encouraging to see that people would travel to another state to buy it legally.”
That’s a good thing for the cannabis culture, he said.
“We are a proud culture. Legalization means a lot of things, and one of them is the end of stigmatization. We’ve been picked on and scapegoated as if we were taking part in some evil practice, but that is largely over in Denver,” Emery argued. “They’re integrating it into the mainstream economy; we’re going to see a lot of interesting things.”
Unsurprisingly, the small-L libertarian and marijuana seed entrepreneur is not overly concerned that legalization will lead to the commercialization or corporatization of the herb.
“We need big money in order to have an effective lobby,” he said. “When there’s something that tens of millions of Americans want, the money will come, and the money is welcome. It’s going to put into new products, new technologies, and we have to welcome that. Capitalism is way to make things happen legally, and we need to get those people on board.”
But Emery wants people to be able to grow their own, too.
“It’s not legal unless we can grow it in our backyards or fields,” he said, “and as long as we can grow it, it’s basically legal.”
That’s life in these United States, but Emery, of course, doesn’t live in the United States — in fact, he is now permanently barred from entering the country — he lives in Canada, and things haven’t gone nearly as swimmingly there when it comes to freeing the weed.
A decade ago, Canada was the hope of the global cannabis culture. It appeared poised to make the move toward legalization, but first the ruling Liberals were unwilling to even push through their decriminalization scheme, and then they were defeated by the Conservatives, who went in the other direction on marijuana policy, for instance, by adopting mandatory minimum sentences for growing more than small amounts of pot.
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives remain in power today, and Emery has sworn political vengeance on them. He has also aligned himself with the Liberals, whose leader, Justin Trudeau, is now an advocate of legalization. That’s in line with Canadian public opinion, which consistently shows strong support for marijuana law reform, including a poll this week that showed two-thirds support for reform, with 35% saying legalize it and 31% saying decriminalize it.
The Liberals are going to try to take back the federal government in elections in October 2015, and Emery is happy to help savage the Conservatives whether it makes Liberals squeamish or not. His return just two weeks ago has already ignited a firestorm of media coverage, with his pot politics naturally front and center.
“We’ve now hijacked the whole conversation about the election; we are dominating the conversation,” he gloated. “It’s the number one election topic and has been since the second I arrived back in the country. There have been more than 150 articles about me in the last two weeks. It’s a big deal, and I’m delighted it’s a big deal. I have critics using up column inches to say disparaging things about me, and that’s great, too. There’s a real dialog going on, and we have the opportunity to change the feelings of our opponents and get them to understand the benefits to their communities in legalizing marijuana.”
But can the Liberals win? Yes, says Emery.
“Election day — October 19, 2015 — will be legalization day in Canada. If Trudeau becomes prime minister, there is no going back,” he prophesied. “And I am confident the Liberals will win. Normally, the anti-Harper vote is divided among the Greens, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois, and the Liberals, but this time, with Trudeau being so charismatic, I am urging everyone to just this once vote for the Liberals. And the feedback I am getting is that this is going to happen, a Liberal majority is going to happen, and you should be in on it.”
When it comes to marijuana reform, in Emery’s eyes, Canadian politicians should take a lesson from their counterparts south of the border.
“My opinion of Americans has only improved,” he said. “You did a great job in Colorado and Washington, and even your legislators are underrated. At least one from every state has gone to Colorado to check it out. It’s wonderful! Up here, if it weren’t for Justin Trudeau, we wouldn’t hear anything.”
Well, and now, Marc Emery. Again.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This word, derived from the French lecher, is nearly synonymous with negligence.
2. In general, when a party has been guilty of laches in enforcing his right by great delay and lapse of time, this circumstance will at common law prejudice, and sometimes operate in bar of a remedy which it is discretionary and not compulsory in the court to afford. In courts of equity, also delay will generally prejudice. 1 Chit. Pr. 786, and the cases there cited; 8 Com. Dig. 684; 6 Johns. Ch. R. 360.
3. But laches may be excused from, ignorance of the party’s rights; 2 Mer. R. 362; 2 Ball & Beat. 104; from the obscurity of the transaction; 2 Sch. & Lef. 487; by the pendancy of a suit; 1 Sch. & Lef. 413; and where the party labors under a legal disability, as insanity, coverture, infancy, and the like. And no laches can be imputed to the public. 4 Mass. Rep. 522; 3 Serg. & Rawle, 291; 4 Hen. & Munf. 57; 1 Penna. R. 476. Vide 1 Supp. to Ves. Jr. 436; 2 Id. 170; Dane’s Ab. Index, h.t.; 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3911.
A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
laches n. the legal doctrine that a legal right or claim will not be enforced or allowed if a long delay in asserting the right or claim has prejudiced the adverse party (hurt the opponent) as a sort of "legal ambush." Examples: knowing the correct property line, Oliver Owner fails to bring a lawsuit to establish title to a portion of real estate until Nat Neighbor has built a house which encroaches on the property in which Owner has title; Tommy Traveler learns that his father has died, but waits four years to come forward until the entire estate has been distributed on the belief that Tommy was dead; Susan Smart has a legitimate claim against her old firm for sexual harassment, but waits three years to come forward and file a lawsuit, after the employee who caused the problem has died, and the witnesses have all left the company and scattered around the country. The defense of laches is often raised in the list of "affirmative defenses" in answers filed by defendants, but is seldom applied by the courts. Laches is not to be confused with the "statute of limitations" which sets specific periods to file a lawsuit for types of claims (negligence, breach of contract, fraud, etc.).
Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
A defense to an equitable action, that bars recovery by the plaintiff because of the plaintiff’s undue delay in seeking relief.
Laches is a defense to a proceeding in which a plaintiff seeks equitable relief. Cases in Equity are distinguished from cases at law by the type of remedy, or judicial relief, sought by the plaintiff. Generally, law cases involve a problem that can be solved by the payment of monetary damages. Equity cases involve remedies directed by the court against a party.
Types of equitable relief include Injunction, where the court orders a party to do or not to do something; declaratory relief, where the court declares the rights of the two parties to a controversy; and accounting, where the court orders a detailed written statement of money owed, paid, and held. Courts have complete discretion in equity, and weigh equitable principles against the facts of the case to determine whether relief is warranted.
The rules of equity are built on a series of legal maxims, which serve as broad statements of principle, the truth and reasonableness of which are self-evident. The basis of equity is contained in the Maxim "Equity will not suffer an injustice." Other maxims present reasons for not granting equitable relief. Laches is one such defense.
Laches is based on the legal maxim "Equity aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights." Laches recognizes that a party to an action can lose evidence, witnesses, and a fair chance to defend himself or herself after the passage of time from the date the wrong was committed. If the defendant can show disadvantages because for a long time he or she relied on the fact that no lawsuit would be started, then the case should be dismissed in the interests of justice.
The law encourages a speedy resolution for every dispute. Cases in law are governed by statutes of limitations, which are laws that determine how long a person has to file a lawsuit before the right to sue expires. Different types of injuries (e.g., tort and contract) have different time periods in which to file a lawsuit. Laches is the equitable equivalent of statutes of limitations. However, unlike statutes of limitations, laches leaves it up to the court to determine, based on the unique facts of the case, whether a plaintiff has waited too long to seek relief.
Real estate boundary disputes are resolved in equity and may involve laches. For instance, if a person starts to build a garage that extends beyond the boundary line and into a neighbor’s property, and the neighbor immediately files a suit in equity and asks the court to issue an injunction to stop the construction, the neighbor will likely prevail. On the other hand, if the neighbor observes the construction of the garage on her property and does not file suit until the garage is completed, the defendant may plead laches, arguing that the neighbor had ample time to protect her property rights before the construction was completed, and the court may find it unfair to order that the garage be torn down.
The laches defense, like most of equity law, is a general concept containing many variations on the maxim. Phrases used to describe laches include "delay that works to the disadvantage of another," "inexcusable delay coupled with prejudice to the party raising the defense," "failure to assert rights," "lack of diligence," and "neglect or omission to assert a right."
West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Nullify – Nullification?
verb abolish, abrogate, ad inritum redigere, annul, cancel, cast aside, counteract, countermand, declare null and void, deprive of efficacy, deprive of legal force, disannul, dissolve, invalidate, make useless, make valueless, make void, negate, neutralize, obliterate, offset, override, overrule, overturn, quash, recall, recant, render invalid, renege, repeal, repudiate, rescind, retract, reverse, revoke, suspend, vacate, vitiate, void
See also: abate, abolish, abrogate, adeem, alleviate, annul, balk, cancel, contravene, counteract, defeat, destroy, disable, disavow, discharge, disinherit, disown, disprove, dissolve, eliminate, eradicate, expunge, extinguish, extirpate, frustrate, invalidate, kill, negate, neutralize, obliterate, override, overrule, overthrow, quash, recall, recant, renege, repeal, repudiate, rescind, revoke, supersede, terminate, vacate, vitiate, void, withdraw
A sanctioned doctrine of trial proceedings wherein members of a jury disregard either the evidence presented or the instructions of the judge in order to reach a verdict based upon their own consciences. It espouses the concept that jurors should be the judges of both law and fact.
The traditional approach in U.S. court systems is for jurors to be the "triers of fact," while the judge is considered the interpreter of law and the one who will instruct the jury on the applicable law. Jury nullification occurs when a jury substitutes its own interpretation of the law and/or disregards the law entirely in reaching a verdict. The most widely accepted understanding of jury nullification by the courts is one that acknowledges the power but not the right of a juror or jury to nullify the law. Jury nullification is most often, although rarely, exercised in criminal trials but technically is applicable to civil trials as well, where it is subject to civil procedural remedies such as the Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict.
In criminal cases, however, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes final a jury trial that results in an acquittal, and it guarantees freedom from Double Jeopardy. This gives juries an inherent power to follow their own consciences in reaching a verdict, notwithstanding jury instructions or charges to the contrary.
v. to annul or set aside. In law, a motion to quash asks the judge for an order setting aside or nullifying an action, such as "quashing" service of a summons when the wrong person was served.
To abrogate, annul, avoid, or cancel a contract; particularly, nullifying a contract by the act of a party. See Powell v. Linde Co., 29 Misc. Rep. 419, GO N. Y. Supp. 1044 ; Ilurst v. Trow Printing Co., 2 Misc. Rep. 3G1, 22 N. Y. Supp. 371.
(Black’s Law Dictionary)
Degree of unreasonableness and unfairness of a contract or deal prompting a court to modify or nullify it.
Legal principle where a court will modify or nullify conditions of contract placing one party at the other’s mercy.
That which is null and completely without legal force or binding effect.
The term void has a precise meaning that has sometimes been confused with the more liberal term voidable. Something that is voidable may be avoided or declared void by one or more of the parties, but such an agreement is not void per se.
A void contract is not a contract at all because the parties are not, and cannot be, bound by its terms. Therefore, no action can be maintained for breach of a void contract, and it cannot be made valid by ratification. Because it is nugatory, a void contract need not be rescinded or otherwise declared invalid in a court of law.
A void marriage is one that is invalid from its inception. In contrast to a voidable marriage, the parties to a void marriage may not ratify the union by living together as Husband and Wife. No Divorce or Annulment is required. Nevertheless, parties frequently do seek, and are permitted to seek, such a decree in order to remove any doubt about the validity of the marriage. Unlike a voidable marriage, a void marriage can be challenged even after the death of one or both parties.
In most jurisdictions a bigamous marriage, one involving a person who has a living spouse from an undissolved prior marriage, is void from the outset. In addition, statutes typically prohibit marriage between an ancestor and descendant; between a brother and a sister (whether related by whole blood, half blood, or Adoption); and between an uncle and niece or aunt and nephew.
A judgment entered by a court is void if a court lacks jurisdiction over the parties or subject matter of a lawsuit. A void judgment may be entirely disregarded without a judicial declaration that the judgment is void and differs from an erroneous, irregular, or voidable judgment. In practice, however, an attack on a void judgment is commonly used to make the judgment’s flaw a matter of public record.
A law is considered void on its face if its meaning is so vague that persons of ordinary intelligence must guess at its meaning and may differ as to the statute’s application (Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385, 46 S. Ct. 126, 70 L. Ed. 2d 322 ). due process requires that citizens receive fair notice of what sort of conduct to avoid. For example, a Cincinnati, Ohio, city ordinance made it a criminal offense for three or more persons to assemble on a sidewalk and conduct themselves in a manner that was annoying to passersby. A conviction carried the possibility of a $50 fine and between one and thirty days imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the convictions of several persons found guilty of violating the ordinance after a demonstration and picketing (Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91 S. Ct. 1686, 29 L. Ed. 2d 214 ). The Court ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutionally vague because it subjected citizens to an unascertainable standard. Stating that "conduct that annoys some people does not annoy others," the Court said that the ordinance left citizens to guess at the proper conduct required. The Court noted that the city could lawfully prohibit persons from blocking the sidewalks, littering, obstructing traffic, committing assaults, or engaging in other types of undesirable behavior through "ordinances directed with reasonable specificity toward the conduct to be prohibited."
in a Finance Dictionary
1. To nullify a contract by means of mutual agreement. 2. To officially abolish a law.
Read more: Search for "nullify" | The Law Dictionary
Maxim of law?
MAXIM of law - Government can only control what it creates. (The power which is derived cannot be greater than that from which it is derived.)
Nature and Natures God is the law and is what gives life to man and his "Rulers" and no legislative rule of a society can prohibit the very thing that gives it life. Legislative "rules" only have force of law, and no rule can take from the very law that gives it force.
U.S. Constitution, Article Six, Clause 2: (The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution)
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
16Am Jur 2d., Const. Law Sec. 256:
“The general rule is that a unconstitutional statute, whether Federal or State, though having the form and name of law as in reality no law, but is wholly void and ineffective for any purpose since unconstitutionality dates from the enactment and not merrily from the date of the decision so braining it. An unconstitutional law in legal contemplation is as inoperative as if it never had been passed. Such a statute lives a question that is purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not ever been enacted. No repeal of an enactment is necessary, since an unconstitutional law is void. The general principles follows that it imposes no duty, converse no rights, creates no office, bestows no power of authority on anyone, affords no protection and justifies no acts performed under it. A contract which rests on a unconstitutional statute creates no obligation to be impaired by subsequent legislation. No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law. No courts are bound to enforce it. Persons convicted and fined under a statute subsequently held unconstitutional may recover the fines paid. A void act cannot be legally inconsistent with a valid one and an unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede an existing valid law. Indeed, in so far as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the land, it is superseded thereby. Since an unconstitutional statute cannot repeal, or in anyway effect an existing one, if a repealing statute is unconstitutional, the statute which it attempts to repeal, remains in full force and effect and where a statute in which it attempts to repeal remains in full force and effect and where a clause repealing a prior law is inserted in the act, which act is unconstitutional and void, the provision of the repeal of the prior law will usually fall with it and will not be permitted to operate as repealing such prior law. The general principle stated above applied to the constitution as well as the laws of the several states insofar as they are repugnant to the constitution and laws of the United States.”
A broad statement of principle, the truth and reasonableness of which are self-evident. A rule of Equity, the system of justice that complements the Common Law.
Maxims were originally quoted in Latin, and many of the Latin phrases continue to be familiar to lawyers in the early 2000s. The maxims were not written down in an organized code or enacted by legislatures, but they have been handed down through generations of judges. As a result, the wording of a maxim may vary from case to case. For example, it is a general rule that equity does not aid a party at fault. This maxim has been variously expressed:
No one is entitled to the aid of a court of equity when that aid has become necessary through his or her own fault.
Equity does not relieve a person of the consequences of his or her own carelessness.
A court of equity will not assist a person in extricating himself or herself from the circumstances that he or she has created.
Equity will not grant relief from a self-created hardship.
The principles of equity and justice are universal in the common-law courts of the world. They are flexible principles aimed at achieving justice for both sides in each case. No maxim is ever absolute, but all of the principles must be weighed and fitted to the facts of an individual controversy. A rule does not apply when it would produce an unfair result. A party cannot insist that a strict technicality be enforced in his or her favor when it would create an injustice because equity will instead balance the interests of the different parties and the convenience of the public.
Remember Lois Lerner? She’s the IRS Exempt Organizations Chief whose emails disappeared but whose texts revealed bias against conservative groups. She has refused to testify multiple times claiming protection under the Fifth Amendment. The right not to incriminate yourself runs deep in our Constitution.
Even so, a Colorado tax on marijuana has been upheld by a federal court despite claims that paying it amounts to self-incrimination violating the Fifth Amendment. Plaintiffs want the taxes on recreational pot outlawed, reasoning that they require businesses and consumers to implicate themselves in federal crimes. The plaintiffs lost on getting an injunction at this point, but that doesn’t mean the lawsuit is over.
Indeed, the lawsuit challenging the taxes will continue, and the stakes are high. In Colorado, there’s a 2.9% sales tax plus a 10% marijuana sales tax. Plus, there is a 15% excise tax on the average market rate of retail marijuana. If you add that up, it’s 27.9%. Medical marijuana only pays the 2.9% sales tax.
Victoria, the nation’s first legal medical marijuana plant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The argument is pretty clever: making you pay these taxes is making you admit to the government that you are violating federal law. Even getting witnesses is tough, said one of the lawyers involved. After all, just being a witness would mean incriminating oneself!
Under federal law, marijuana is still illegal and a controlled substance, even for medical use. And the gulf between federal law and recreational marijuana seems even bigger. Of course, this isn’t the only context raising the conflicting federal and state laws over marijuana. The tax problems of the industry remain a major impediment.
Section 280E of the tax code denies even legal dispensaries tax deductions. The IRS says it has no choice but to enforce the tax code passed by Congress. “The federal tax situation is the biggest threat to businesses and could push the entire industry underground,” the leading trade publication for the marijuana industry reported. One answer is for dispensaries to deduct expenses from other businesses distinct from dispensing marijuana.
If a dispensary sells marijuana and is in the separate business of care-giving, the care-giving expenses are deductible. If only 10% of the premises are used to dispense marijuana, most of the rent is deductible. In allocating expenses between businesses, good record-keeping is essential.
But there is only so far one can go. Some marijuana sellers operate as nonprofit social welfare organizations so Section 280E shouldn’t apply. Some claim dispensaries should be organized as cooperatives or collectives.
The proposed Marijuana Tax Equity Act would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and allow it to be taxed. That way growers, sellers and users would not fear of violating federal law. The bill would also impose an excise tax on cannabis sales and an annual occupational tax on workers in the growing field of legal marijuana.
Colorado’s tax law is bringing in considerable revenue, and that may influence attempts to derail the tax. Early reports suggested that the taxes might be attacked as unconstitutionally high. But the Fifth Amendment assertions are more sophisticated. Not only that, they jab at the already sensitive issue of the conflict between state and federal law. As medical marijuana has gained widespread acceptance and now recreational marijuana is taking hold, the federal v. state conflict grows deeper.
You can reach me at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Published on Jul 11, 2014
This video focuses on the psychology behind the growing police state.
The problem is becoming so massive that many people now see police differently.
The fear and distrust radiating between police and the general public is at an all time high with record number of
murders and brutality now becoming the norm in America.
In this video we get to the core of the problem which most people fail to recognize. It all starts with Hollywood
and its thousands of cop TV shows. Many people’s minds are brainwashed on TV and entertainment and they playfully
adopt the idea that police work is just another fun job with good pay. Before they know it, many of these TV
watching zombies find themselves pointing guns at Americans who’s guilt has not been established in a court of law,
or Americans who are profiled as guilty before proven innocent. Often some of these zombie police shoot without
consequences making the problem worse.
Thinking the law is morality and reason, many of these impressionable young police officers carry on and do as they
are told without questioning the morality and the principle of what they are doing, and without referring to the
U.S. Constitution which is the supreme law of the land in America which they themselves has sworn an oath to uphold.
The end result is the psychopathic violent police state we are all witnessing with our own eyes in America. We are seeing
history repeat itself as people forget that the police was intended as a service, that they work for us and that they can only
operate within the spectrum of consent of the governed.
Hopefully this video will bring more awareness of this problem and compel others to do more about this growing problem
by educating others including other police.
Here’s the long list of police related TV shows:
WASHINGTON—Editor’s Note:This story is the sixth part in a series of articles and video documentaries that surveys the state of the legal marijuana and hemp industries.To read the previous article on hemp research in Kentucky, go here.
Ken Anderson had managed to transport 286 pounds of hemp seeds to Lexington, Kentucky from Italy. That’s when the Drug Enforcement Agency seized them at a UPS air terminal in Lexington, Kentucky, riling agricultural officials, farmers and politicians in a state that is still searching for a crop to replace the maligned tobacco leaf.
Kentucky agricultural officials were awaiting the seeds in anticipation of commencing hemp research projects in collaboration with universities and private growers under federal legislation signed in February by President Obama: Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill.
Although federal law classifies hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance, the Farm Bill carved out an exception—authorizing institutions of higher education or state agriculture departments to study the growth, cultivation or marketing of industrial hemp in states where such activity is permitted.
“It amazes me that the DEA spent resources to intercept my seed going into the Kentucky Department of Agriculture," said Anderson, founder and CEO of Original Green Distribution, which is providing seed and infrastructure to support American hemp. “They spent a ton of money confiscating seed going to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture when they didn’t have a single agent in front of a recreational [marijuana] dispensary in Colorado. That blows my mind. What a waste of resources."
The feds could have seized the Italian hemp seeds before they had cleared the interior of the United States. But U.S. Border Patrol dropped the ball—it should have never let in the seeds without the proper federal licensing and import certification, a DEA executive assistant told Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance President Russ Crawford, according to a May 5 email he sent Anderson. Crawford had wanted to know if DEA would let into the United States seeds from Canada.
On May 13, the DEA offered to release the Italian seeds to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), provided the state agency applied to register as an importer of controlled substances. But a DEA official, Joseph Rannazzisi, declared the Farm Bill did not authorize any activity by private growers and suggested the state provide the names of the institutions of higher education to which it planned to distribute seeds.
The very next day, KDA responded to DEA by filing a lawsuit against the agency, which is a part of the U.S. Justice Department.
“Defendant DEA/and or other Defendants are violating the provisions of the Farm Bill by engrafting upon it additional regulatory and bureaucratic requirements that were not contemplated or enacted by the U.S. Congress," according to the lawsuit, which argued the Farm Bill excluded hemp seeds from the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. “There is no provision in the Farm Bill or in any regulation in furtherance of the Farm Bill allowing Defendant DEA and/or other Defendants to impose additional requirements, restrictions, or prohibitions upon an institution of higher education or a state department of agriculture that is engaged in industrial hemp cultivation as contemplated by the Farm Bill."
Following a hearing before the U.S. District Court in Louisville, Kentucky, DEA issued a registration and import permit to KDA, allowing the state agency to possess the seeds, according to court records. Anderson said the Italian seeds were released on May 23.
According to KDA records, seven growing sites received the impounded seeds, including Kentucky State University, Murray State University and Western Kentucky University.
Threats of Criminal Prosecution
But DEA still made it clear in a letter on May 22 that it had plans “to criminally prosecute and seize, under the federal Controlled Substances Act … hemp plants grown by the private farmers who have entered written contracts with KDA to carry out the pilot projects," several Kentucky farmers disclosed in a request to intervene in the case and enjoin DEA from prosecuting—or destroying plants grown by—them.
The proposed interveners included Brian Furnish, a farmer who had expected to receive seed to begin a pilot project in conjunction with the University of Kentucky, and seven other farmers who had entered memoranda of understanding with KDA.
The Farm Bill “clearly shows Congress’ assumption and intent that private farmers be utilized by state agriculture departments to carry out the pilot projects," lawyers for the farmers stated in June 12 court papers. “To read the law as requiring the officials and employees of a small state agency like KDA, who are not themselves active farmers, to leave their offices in Frankfort and cultivate the hemp seed would be absurd and would completely frustrate the intent of Congress."
A senior federal judge, John Heyburn, later denied the motion to intervene and for the preliminary injunction, explaining the request for the injunction was moot for reasons that were stated on the record during a hearing.
DEA never filed a formal answer to KDA’s complaint. Ellen Canale, a spokeswoman with the Justice Department, a named defendant in KDA’s lawsuit, didn’t return numerous phone calls and emails seeking comment on the case.
DEA agreed “that as long as the farmers were, under contract (Memorandum of Understanding) with the KDA or universities to engage in the pilot crop program, that they would be considered agents of the KDA or universities under the 2014 Farm Act and exempt from the provisions of the Controlled Substance Act (i.e. not subjected to criminal investigation or prosecution)," said Richard Plymale, a veteran lawyer in Kentucky who represented the farmers, in an email.
DEA also agreed to quickly issue import permits for hemp oil seeds that were being held in Canada, he said. According to KDA records, the Canadian seeds were released on July 2.
Plymale, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney with the Justice Department who currently practices law with Frost Brown Todd LLC, said he appeared in Heyburn’s chambers on June 18 and read a portion of the DEA’s threatening letter to the farmers, to which the judge responded, “I thought we had settled this."
When Heyburn asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Schecter who appeared for the hearing by phone if the matter had been resolved, he answered in the affirmative, Plymale said.
Last week, KDA moved to dismiss the entire lawsuit.
“This dismissal is based upon the Defendant, Drug Enforcement Agency’s (“DEA") continuing agreement to assist the KDA with the KDA’s implementation and supervision of programs involved with the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp," Daniel Morgan of the law firm McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC wrote on behalf of KDA. “The KDA acknowledges that the DEA has been cooperating with the KDA and the DEA has manifested its expressed desire to assist the KDA with industrial hemp projects."
Searching for New Cash Crop
Industrial hemp contains little THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) last year introduced a bill that would exempt hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. Katie Moyer, an appointed member of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, said the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 has bipartisan support with 49 cosponsors. Moyer said the bill only needs a few more sponsors in order to schedule a hearing on the House floor.
“Tobacco is demonized. It’s taxed into oblivion," she said in a phone interview. “They [farmers] are struggling here in Kentucky. They are trying to find a replacement to tobacco, something they can grow as a cash crop."
Private growers who have been working with KDA haven’t encountered any issues with DEA since the lawsuit was resolved, Moyer said. After the seeds were released to the KDA, farmers underwent background checks and entered agreements with the state agency, she said.
“KDA was very careful. Under the contract with the farmers … they give GPS coordinates to the fields and the farmers are required to make reports when crops are harvested, removed," Plymale said. “There is a nice gentleman’s agreement about what to do."
The agricultural community is actually hosting an event on Aug. 25 for local law-enforcement to tour the hemp fields.
“We want law enforcement to be involved with the process," Moyer said. “We try to be reasonable and consider all the issues they’ve got with it."
She said KDA has been taking samples of the hemp fields and noted most industrial hemp contains well under 0.3 percent THC, the limit specified in the Farm Bill.
According to Moyer, a hemp field in north Christian County, Kentucky is thriving with some plants likely soaring to more than 11 feet. Another field planted by Rachel McCubbin, a staff member to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), hasn’t fared as well. After the hemp was planted, the field was drenched with 4.5 inches of rain, then suffered a drought for two months, Moyer said.
“That field needless to say is not doing well," she said. “It’s not a miracle crop. It’s not going to perform miracles."Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
A nonprofit group has canceled an October anti-drug summit in Madras — which was to feature a prominent opponent of marijuana legalization — after complaints were raised by sponsors of the ballot measure that would permit recreational use of the drug.
The sponsors of the legalization initiative, Measure 91, charged this week that it was wrong for summit organizers to use federal funds to help pay for an appearance by Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug adviser who has formed an organization opposing marijuana legalization.
Sabet was also scheduled to appear in 12 other Oregon cities as part of an "Oregon Marijuana Education Tour" following the summit. Sabet had said that, at the request of organizers, he would not talk about the ballot measure at either the Madras event or on the tour.
Rick Treleaven, the executive director of BestCare Treatment Practices and the organizer of the Madras summit, said he decided to cancel the summit because he "could see from an outside perspective that it could look like a conflict."
Treleaven, whose nonprofit that runs community mental health programs for Jefferson County, said he did not know if the 12-city tour featuring Sabet would still take place. "It depends on what the other folks do," he said, referring to the local sponsors, some of whom were also using federal anti-drug grants to help pay for the events.
Treleaven said he hoped to reschedule the Madras summit for some time after the election. He has noted that the summit has been held for several years in October and that this year’s event was not intended to influence the marijuana vote.
However, Anthony Johnson, chief sponsor of the marijuana legalization measure, said Wednesday that the heavy focus on marijuana during the summit and on the tour smacked of electioneering using federal money — even if participants did not specifically discuss the initiative.
Johnson could not be reached Thursday evening, but Peter Zuckerman, a spokesman for the campaign said sponsors did the right thing in canceling the summit and should do the same for the 12-city tour.
"Federal taxpayer dollars should not be used to influence an election," he said. "Calling this an educational campaign is ridiculous."Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
August 20th, 2014 by Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio man who uses a biblical reference and a statement against "poisoned waters" on billboards opposing wells for disposal of gas-drilling wastewater is fighting a legal threat from the Texas well owner on free-speech grounds.
Austin, Texas-based Buckeye Brine alleges in a July lawsuit that the billboards paid for by Michael Boals, of Coshocton in eastern Ohio, contain false and defamatory attacks against its two wells, which dispose of contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling.
The complaint by the company and Rodney Adams, who owns the land and operates the well site, contends the wells are safe, legal and meet all state safety standards. The parties object to statements on two billboards along U.S. Route 36, including one that "DEATH may come."
"The accusation that the wells will cause ‘DEATH’ is a baseless and malicious attempt to damage the reputations of the plaintiffs," according to the complaint. "The billboards are also defamatory because they state or imply that Mr. Adams and Buckeye Brine are causing ‘poisoned waters’ to enter the drinking water supply."
Shale oil and gas drilling employing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, produces millions of gallons of chemical-laced wastewater. The liquid, called brine, is a mix of chemicals, saltwater, naturally occurring radioactive material and mud.
It’s considered unsafe for ground water and aquifers, so Ohio regulations require waste liquid to be contained and injected deep underground. Ohio has recorded no aquifer contamination, but as the state grapples with some 16 million gallons of the wastewater a year, it’s seen earthquakes linked to injection wells and a Youngstown-area businessman indicted in a federal dumping case.
Boals, a 55-year-old timber harvester, refuses to pull his billboards, which he said cost him more than $1,000.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted: Tue 2:47 PM, Aug 19, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice has reached a $1.5 million settlement with Kentucky officials over dozens of reclamation violations at several of his coal mines in eastern Kentucky.
The agreement between Justice and the state’s Department for Natural Resources is a reduction from the $4.5 million in outstanding penalties he owed for the violations. Kentucky officials said the violations stemmed from the lack of post-mining restoration work required by law at Justice mines in eight counties.
Justice, who is worth about $1.6 billion according to Forbes.com, has idled several mines in eastern Kentucky and said his Appalachian mines are struggling to stay open due to poor market conditions.
The agreement also requires Justice to post millions in bond and complete the reclamation work by September 2015.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
And this time I am speaking to everyone who lives on this planet!
After much thought the last few days I decided I needed to say something about the “state of affairs” that our Country, and the entire world is enduring as we speak.
It seems that things that I have thought of in the past are coming true to life now. Not to mention all the movies I have watched which predicted horrendous disasters including war, weather, biological catastrophes etc., Were they in fact intended to desensitize the people to the reality of things to come?
I grew up in Louisville, Ky., and I remember riots and violence when busing was started. I’ve seen KKK rallies – though never attended one. I remember watching the news with Walter Cronkite as well when we were in Vietnam. My father was a WWII Vet. My Grandmother died in the great “flu pandemic” of 1918 – so I never even met her as I was born much later in my parents life. I am also a recovering Catholic. God knows I loved that religion all my life until I was old enough to put 2+2 together and realize I was lied to about most everything.
It has always been said that “history repeats itself”. I hope that is not true because if it is we are in for another war like has never been seen before. WWII was supposed to be the War to end all War – In reality it was the beginning of what we are seeing today. I do not like to bring the “Bible” into my writings “per say” however the “Good Book” in all religious forms predicts global war and catastrophe near the end times. Can we stop it? Are we too late? Do we really WANT to stop it?
I tend to be somewhat satiric in some of the article’s I have personally written. That being said I believed every bit of it or I would not have written it in the first place. In some cases I wanted it to be entertaining as well but everything I have written had some thought behind it. Do you really want to see a change in the World?
Moving right along as I could get really long winded here and I know people do not have the time to read everything all the way through anymore – They are either too busy having to be a slave to a Corporation or a Slave to the “Indigent System”… My word of the day is PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE for the worst and PRAY for the World to come to it’s senses and lay down ALL of your ARMS.
DO NOT hand them over to anyone, but LAY THEM DOWN IN PEACE!
PEACE and cooperation is what the world needs now…
We have many more important things to deal with at this point than WAR!!! We have an entire planet to rebuild called “Earth”.
Everywhere I have looked since 2001 there has been some kind of either Biological disasters and Meteorological disasters, (who knows whether it is natural global warming or human waste, corporate waste and pollutants), Human suffering of indigenous proportions. Not to mention the Military, Prison, Pharmaceutical, Industrial Fascists nightmare that has been here since we were. And so of course I have to say that 2001 was not the start of the Global disaster we are seeing now. It started many moons ago. Sort of like the Good Lord, according to the Bible “he always was and always will be”(?)…Can we change the Earth?
Who started it all? I could theorize all day long but at the end of the day at this point it does not matter. It just has to stop. And stop quick. Or else the one’s of us who are lucky enough to still be able to watch the horror on TV will be next weeks news.
The laws of nature our not on our side at this point. Neither is the “law of the land”.
Another big problem is social media. Media in general is a problem in and of itself but FACEBOOK and all the rest of the “social networks” are causing more harm than good as cyber security carefully documents almost everything about our lives, minute by minute – second by second.
Gaming programs of most kinds are no more than a way to condition our kids via programming as they sit there and push buttons to kill people – taking away all of the emotional cause and effect of a “killing”.
After posting the story about the “Purge” in Louisville, KY last week and seeing all the hits that this story got I started to think about just how easy it could be to throw any area in the U.S. or even Worldwide into an unprecedented chaos just by “starting a social networking war” via comments and false statements.
Is this a planned joint venture between the governments to cause utter anarchy everywhere? A reason to bring down the Police State on everyone?
I have disconnected all social networking from my phone. The fact that I still feel the need to carry one at all bothers me. But until the electric goes out (and it will) I will continue to carry my cell phone – just in case I need to call or text somebody…
I have put together a few links which emphasize what I have been talking about above just to refresh everyone’s memory a little bit. I am sure you all know what is happening today, right?
“Never believe anything you read and only half of what you see with your own eyes” was something I was taught as a child which turned out to be the “truth” of all “truths”.
Nothing is as it seems on the surface. Like George Carlin said, “Teach your children to question everything…”
Rainbow Farm was a campground run by Tom Crosslin and his life partner Rolland "Rollie" Rohm and home to two controversial festivals, HempAid on Memorial Day and Roach Roast on Labor Day. The owner of Rainbow Farm supported the "medical, spiritual, and responsible recreational uses of Marijuana for a more sane and compassionate America" . Rainbow Farm was the focus of an intensive investigation by Cass County prosecutor Scott Teter. The investigation eventually came to a head in early September 2001 with the burning down of all the structures on the property and the shooting deaths of both Tom Crosslin and Rolland Rohm.
Prior to that was: *1995 Oklahoma City Bombing
The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The bombing killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a 16-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings,[4
*In 2004 came the Tsunami.
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, 26 December 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake. The resulting tsunami was given various names, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, South Asian tsunami, Indonesian tsunami, the Christmas tsunami and the Boxing Day tsunami.
*In 2005 came Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic tropical cyclone of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States.
*In 2006 came the Java earthquake.
The May 2006 Java earthquake occurred at 05:54 local time on 27 May on the southern coast of the island of Java, around 20 km (12 mi) south-southeast of the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta. The shock occurred at a shallow depth and was located just to the south of Mount Merapi, a stratovolcano (that was mid-eruption at the time) located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta. The large M6.3 earthquake caused a disproportionate number of casualties, with more than 5,700 deaths and 37,000 injuries, and very high financial losses (Rp 29.1 Trillion ($3.1B)). With a lack of instruments in the area, the shock was initially attributed with the (strike-slip) Opak Fault that lies to the east of the affected areas, but later InSAR analysis revealed that another previously unknown fracture was responsible for the sequence of shocks.
*In December of 2007 Benazir Bhutto, the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan was assassinated.
Benazir Bhutto ( بينظير بھٹو ), pronounced [beːnəˈziːr ˈbʱʊʈʈoː]; 21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007) was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan, serving two non-consecutive terms in 1988–90 and then 1993–96. A scion of the politically powerful Bhutto family, she was the eldest daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a former prime minister himself who founded the centre-left, social-democratic Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
*In 2008 – 2009 was the Great Recession.
The Great Recession (also referred to as the Second Great Depression, Lesser Depression, the Long Recession, or the global recession of 2009) was a global economic decline in the late 2000s decade. The effects of this economic downturn are having a continued influence into 2014.
*2010 brought the “Arab Spring”.
The Arab Spring (Arabic: الربيع العربي, ar-rabīˁ al-ˁarabī) is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests (both non-violent and violent), riots, and civil wars in the Arab world that began on 18 December 2010 and spread throughout the countries of the Arab League and surroundings. While the wave of initial revolutions and protests had expired by mid-2012, some refer to the ongoing large-scale conflicts in Middle East and North Africa as a continuation of the Arab Spring, while others refer to the second wave of revolutions and civil wars post 2012 as the Arab Winter.
*2011 Tohoku earthquake,
The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku (東北地方太平洋沖地震 Tōhoku-chihō Taiheiyō Oki Jishin?) was a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday 11 March 2011, with the epicentre approximately 70 kilometres (43 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku and the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 30 km (19 mi). The earthquake is also often referred to in Japan as the Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災 Higashi nihon daishinsai?)[fn 1] and also known as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, and the 3.11 Earthquake. It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan, and the fifth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture, and which, in the Sendai area, travelled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland. The earthquake moved Honshu (the main island of Japan) 2.4 m (8 ft) east and shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between 10 cm (4 in) and 25 cm (10 in), and generated sound waves detected by the low orbiting GOCE satellite.
*2012 In the worst power outage in world history, the 2012 India blackouts leave 620 million people without power.
Two severe power blackouts affected most of northern and eastern India on July 30 and 31, 2012. The 30 July 2012 India blackout affected over 300 million people and was the then-largest power outage in history, counting number of people affected, beating the January 2001 India blackout. The 31 July 2012 India blackout was the largest power outage in history. The outage affected over 620 million people, about 9% of the world population, or half of India’s population, spread across 22 states in Northern, Eastern, and Northeast India.
*In 2013, Benedict XVI resigns as pope, becoming the first to do so since Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is elected the 266th pope, whereupon he takes the name Francis and becomes the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, and the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere.
This is 2014.
Just sit down, shut up and think for a minute!
The World is in chaos as we speak.
I was going to add additional links here to the ongoing “news” around the World, but I really do not think it is necessary. Everyone that reads this has the same ability that I do to Google the news so I will end my rant here.
*Information source: WikipediaRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Here is something that tells you about the nature of people and their curiosity about “sensationalized news”...
If it is VIOLENCE or something equally as sensational they will flock to it…If it is an “INFORMATIVE and IMPORTANT information” they tend not to care. There was over 1100 people who “saw” the post I put out about the “Purge” in Louisville KY this past weekend…I only posted it to be a “PSA” of sorts…so people would be aware of the situation. It turned out to be the best day of “hits” Ive ever had on the blog..Previously it was 200+ in one day on an article about “roadkill being processed in a restaurant”.… What is the point in continuing to try to bring REAL INFORMATION to the people when all they really want is entertainment???????
smkRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Despite the claims made by some in Frankfort, Kentucky is not in good shape. The recession that began at the end of the Bush presidency has continued through the Obama administration has hit us here in the commonwealth particularly hard.
Businesses are not coming here. Jobs and our children are leaving. The time has come for all of us, regardless of party and regional bias, to join hands and pull together in the same direction to produce a better, brighter future for us all.
It was unfortunate therefore to read that Commonwealth Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer, a prospective GOP nominee for governor next year, at the launch of his announcement of intentions at the highly notable Fancy Farm Picnic, proudly proclaimed that our state’s next chief executive "will not be from Louisville."
Where the next governor comes from and lives with his or her family is not nearly as important as what the next governor intends to do for Kentucky.
Gov. Steve Beshear has had eight years to bring reform and growth to our state. He hasn’t, even if a good part of the blame can be affixed to policies coming down from Washington.
Our state needs a new leader with an agenda to bring jobs back to this state, regardless of where they end up — in Jefferson County or in another part of this great state.
At Fancy Farm, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer confirms he is running for governor. Aug. 2, 2014 Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal
Hopefully the Republicans, who I believe will be favored to win the next election, will find a candidate who understands that we are ONE state, with ONE agenda: to become a regional leader in finance, education, agriculture, in health care delivery, manufacturing and other areas that will keep jobs here and provide a future for our children and grandchildren.
A political strategy that pits the rest of the state against Louisville might have worked in years past. Kentucky is faced with many challenges and needs and deserves more than that now — things are too serious for more politics as usual.
Telling Louisville, Kentucky’s economic engine, that you need not apply is the mark of a not-ready-for-prime-time novice and a sad beginning.
Remember, Kentucky’s motto is "United We Stand, Divided We Fall."
Jack Richardson IV is the former chair of the Jefferson County Republican Party.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Michael Roberts Fri., Aug. 8 2014 at 10:50 AM
A bizarre story out of Ohio in which a woman burned off her fingerprints to hide her identity has a Colorado connection — one that appears to pertain to Ann Marie Miller, a onetime medical marijuana caregiver charged with assorted crimes who was featured in this space on several occasions.
The name’s the same and many of the details are extremely similar in a story that’s strange and getting stranger.
Our first post about Miller dates back to June 2010. Miller told us that she’d been working as an apartment manager at a complex in Adams County when she got into a dispute with the landlord over an alleged theft. A short time later, the landlord entered her apartment to investigate a water leak and found she had numerous marijuana plants.
Miller said she was both a medical marijuana patient and a caregiver, but the landlord called the cops, who determined she had more plants than was legally allowable. She also complained that law enforcers trashed her place — a claim a police representative denied.
A few days later, Miller told us she returned to her apartment to find she’d been locked out and her belongings placed in the parking lot — everything except her plants. So she and a friend broke a window in order to get her marijuana back — a decision that ended with her being charged with second-degree burglary and misdemeanor theft in addition to marijuana cultivation.
The latter charge was listed as a felony even though a law change months later would have made her offense a misdemeanor.
The following February, Miller filed lawsuits against police over the raid — complaints she created herself. She also decided to fight the felony marijuana charge even though she was offered a misdemeanor deal. The reason? She didn’t want a guilty plea on her record because she feared losing custody of a son born in October. According to her, she’d left the boy home alone when he was just a few weeks old in order to visit the emergency room. As a result, he was taken away from her in the wake of a neglect accusation.
A month later, Miller said the marijuana charge against her had been dropped, leaving just the theft and child abuse allegations. But the latest developments call this assertion into question.
The next chapter of the tale is shared by WZVN-TV in Fort Myers, Florida. The station reports that a woman identifying herself as Julia Wadsworth was arrested in Lima, Ohio, after trying to obtain a driver’s license using a bogus birth certificate. But when trying to confirm her identity during the booking process, police discovered she’d burned her fingerprints off.
Voter registration records showed that a woman named Julia Wadsworth had previously been living in a mobile home in the community of Fort Myers Beach. There, she’d been the caregiver for an elderly resident. But since no one knew if Wadsworth was her real name — and because she otherwise declined to cooperate — the cops circulated a photo of the woman as a Jane Doe.
Other pics were shared by the Lima News, an Ohio newspaper, including images from a court appearance when she was said to have been acting in a weird manner. Here’s one of those images, as shared on the WZVN broadcast:
The photos inspired a call from a tipster, who said the woman was most likely Ann Marie Miller — and investigators have now said they believe that to be true.
But is this Ann Marie Miller the one involved in the events detailed above? Well, the Lima News describes her as a "40-year-old disbarred attorney from Virginia" who’d been charged with assorted crimes, including tampering with a vehicle identification number, burglary, assault, stalking, disorderly conduct and threatening language over a public airway owing to a "love triangle" with a "male attorney" who "left her for a paralegal in their office."
However, the local sheriff also said Miller is wanted in Colorado for charges that include "burglary, two counts of possession of burglary tools, trespassing, criminal mischief and a felony marijuana cultivation charge."
We can’t confirm that the woman in these photos is the Ann Marie Miller with whom we spoke; all of our communication took place over the phone. But if she’s not, it’s a mighty large coincidence. Here’s the aforementioned WZVN report about "Julia Wadsworth."Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
MURRAY, Ky. (AP) — Call it a homecoming for hemp: Marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin is undergoing a rebirth in a state at the forefront of efforts to reclaim it as a mainstream crop.
Researchers and farmers are producing the first legal hemp crop in generations in Kentucky, where hemp has turned into a political cause decades after it was banned by the federal government. Republican U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul advocate for it, as does state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a Republican who is running for governor next year.
The comeback is strictly small scale. Experimental hemp plots more closely resemble the size of large family gardens.
Statewide plantings totaled about 15 acres from the Appalachian foothills in eastern Kentucky to the broad stretches of farmland in the far west, said Adam Watson, the Kentucky Agriculture Department’s hemp program coordinator.
The crop’s reintroduction was delayed in the spring when imported hemp seeds were detained by U.S. customs officials. The state’s Agriculture Department sued the federal government, but dropped the case Friday after reaching an agreement on importing the seeds into Kentucky. The seeds were released after federal drug officials approved a permit.
Since then, test plots have shown the crop to be hardy and fast growing — and a potential moneymaker with a remarkable range of traditional uses including clothing, mulch, hemp milk, cooking oil, soap and lotions.
"What we’ve learned is it will grow well in Kentucky," Comer said. "It yields a lot per acre. All the things that we predicted."
At Murray State University, about 180 miles southwest of Louisville, plants have sprouted to at least 8 feet tall, turning a shade of green and yellow as they reach maturity. Harvest is approaching.
"It’s had a good growth period," said Murray State agriculture dean Tony L. Brannon. "It appeared to tolerate the extremes in weather from extremely wet to extremely dry pretty well."
Hemp’s roots in Kentucky date back to pioneer days and the towering stalks were once a staple at many farms.
"We’ve got an excellent climate for it, excellent soils for it," Watson said. "It’s a good fit for Kentucky producers. The ultimate question is going to come down to economics. Is there a market and can Kentucky capture that?"
Growing hemp without a federal permit was banned in 1970 due to its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, Cannabis sativa, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
Legal production of the crop has been gone for so long that it was a virtual blank slate in modern Kentucky agriculture.
Teams of researchers and farmers are studying which seed varieties and soil types are best suited and how much moisture or fertilizer are needed.
"There are a lot of unknowns," Watson said. "It’s those sorts of answers that producers are going to need before they can turn it into an economically viable crop on their farms."
For now, growing hemp is strictly limited. The federal farm bill enacted this year restricts hemp production to research projects designated by agriculture departments in states that allow the crop to be grown. But commercial uses are also emerging.
Fifteen states have removed barriers to hemp production, according to Vote Hemp, a group that advocates for the plant’s legal cultivation.
Licensed growers were able to secure seeds in three states — Kentucky, Colorado and Vermont — the group said, but difficulties in obtaining seeds limited production. According to Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, the biggest obstacle was gaining approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration to import hemp seeds for planting.
In Vermont, about 12 farms registered to grow hemp, said Alison Kosakowski, a spokeswoman for the state’s Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. The agency doesn’t know how many producers ended up planting a hemp crop.
The intentions were much bigger in Colorado. There were 56 registrations for commercial hemp production and 76 more for research and development, according to Ron Carleton, the state’s deputy agriculture commissioner.
Unavailability of seed likely kept "a fairly significant" number of applicants from getting hemp in the ground, he said. Some farmers able to produce a crop this year may harvest the seeds to grow next year’s crop, he said.
In Kentucky, the crop is being studied by researchers at a half-dozen universities.
Eastern Kentucky University researchers recently harvested their small hemp plot. Those plants reached 7 feet tall.
"It seems to be fairly easy to grow," said EKU agriculture professor Bruce Pratt. "The plants got established so quickly that they shaded out the weeds."
A 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service pegged hemp imports at $11.5 million in 2011, a tiny sum relative to other imported crops.
If widespread U.S. production is someday allowed, states able to attract processors close to where the crop is grown will be the winners, said University of Kentucky agricultural economist Will Snell.
"It’s a small, niche market, but it’s growing," he said. "We can grow it. The problem is, other states and other countries can grow it as well."Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
POLICE ARE EVERYWHERE
First, this is VERY important to read and understand. I’m doing my best to look out for all the Facebook Users who aren’t as tech savvy as their kids or friends. I’m trying to help explain what’s happening because if I don’t…nobody else will!
If you’re anything like your neighbor…you probably use Facebook on your phone WAY more than you use it on a computer. You’ve been sending messages from the Facebook app and it probably always asks you if you want to install the Facebook Messenger App.
Its always been OPTIONAL but coming soon to your Facebook experience….it won’t be an option…it will be mandatory if you care to send messages from your phone.
No big deal one might think…but the part that the average Facebook User doesn’t realize is the permissions you must give to Facebook in order to use the Facebook Messenger App. Here is a short list of the most disturbing permissions it requires and a quick explanation of what it means to you and your privacy.
Change the state of network connectivity – This means that Facebook can change or alter your connection to the Internet or cell service. You’re basically giving Facebook the ability to turn features on your phone on and off for its own reasons without telling you.
Call phone numbers and send SMS messages – This means that if Facebook wants to…it can send text messages to your contacts on your behalf. Do you see the trouble in this? Who is Facebook to be able to access and send messages on your phone? You’re basically giving a stranger your phone and telling them to do what they want when they want!
Record audio, and take pictures and videos, at any time – Read that line again….RECORD audio…TAKE pictures….AT ANY TIME!! That means that the folks at Facebook can see through your lens on your phone whenever they want..they can listen to what you’re saying via your microphone if they choose to!!
Read your phone’s call log, including info about incoming and outgoing calls – Who have you been calling? How long did you talk to them? Now Facebook will know all of this because you’ve downloaded the new Facebook messenger app.
Read your contact data, including who you call and email and how often – Another clear violation of your privacy. Now Facebook will be able to read e-mails you’ve sent and take information from them to use for their own gain. Whether it’s for “personalized advertisements” or if it’s for “research purposes” ….whatever the reason..they’re accessing your private encounters.
Read personal profile information stored on your device – This means that if you have addresses, personal info, pictures or anything else that’s near and dear to your personal life…they can read it.
Get a list of accounts known by the phone, or other apps you use – Facebook will now have a tally of all the apps you use, how often you use them and what information you keep or exchange on those apps.
Hopefully, you take this as serious as I do…after reading more about it and studying the permissions I have now deleted the app from my phone and don’t intend to use it ever again. I still have my Facebook app but I just won’t use the messaging feature unless I’m at a computer. Even then, I might not use messaging anymore.
With these kinds of privacy invasions I think Facebook is pushing the limits to what people will let them get away with. I remember when the Internet first began its march toward socializing dominance when AOL would send us CD’s for free trials every week. On AOL, we made screen names that somewhat hid our identities and protected us against the unseen dangers online. Now, it seems that we’ve forgotten about that desire to protect our identity and we just lay down and let them invade our privacy.
There may be no turning back at this point because many people won’t read this or investigate the permissions of Facebook’s new mandatory app but at least I can say I tried to help us put up a fight. Pass this along to your friends and at least try to let them know what they’re getting into.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted on August 15, 2014 by Peter Clausi
Ah, Kentucky: thank you for bourbon and The Derby and good basketball. Now, surprisingly, add industrial hemp to that list.
Hemp is a versatile wonder herb, currently used in food, consumer textiles, building materials, plastics, biofuel, industrial products, fuel, personal care … the list goes on and on. And unlike its cousin cannabis, it contains less than 0.1% THC, so it’s not possible to get high using hemp. It would be like expecting to get drunk by chewing barley!
Agriculturally, it’s a welcome addition to a farm, as it suppresses weed growth, does not require much care, can withstand cold temperatures down to about 23F, aerates the soil as part of a crop rotation, and is an efficient oxygen / carbon dioxide exchanger.
Hemp was a major contributor to the economy. For example, until 1883, roughly 75% of all paper in the world was made from hemp fiber. Back home, the 1850 U.S. census documented approximately 8,400 hemp plantations of at least 2000 acres. Hemp was a large supporter of the US economy, right up until 1937 when under the Marijuana Tax Act, 1937 Congress effectively banned the growing of hemp, in hysterical hearings that contained incorrect facts and or unfounded arguments.
Some blame this on Mr. Andrew Mellon (Ambassador to Great Britain, Secretary of the Treasury, and one of the wealthiest people in the country) who had large timber holdings that were subject to possible loss of market share from hemp. We’ll never know the exact politics behind the hearings, but the government (mainly through the Drug Enforcement Agency) has since had a near-maniacal opposition to hemp. And that’s a shame for the economy and the struggling farmers.
Enter Kentucky. It was once the country’s leading producer of hemp, making about 40,000 tons a year just before the Civil War. This year, Kentucky’s Agriculture Department planned to import and distribute hemp seeds for use in pilot projects at four Kentucky universities, as a stepping stone to commercializing hemp product under a federal Farm Bill and reinvigorating the state economy. The DEA seized the seeds. Kentucky immediately sued for their return, and in May, 2014, reached an agreement with the DEA to get the seeds.
The seeds are in the ground, and as of August 1 are thriving, without fertilizer or herbicides. “It’s doing just fine so far,” said Dave Williams, an agronomist at University of Kentucky. “We’ve had enough rain to keep it growing and enough heat to make it grow.” (quote courtesy of The Daily Chronic). The crops should be ready for harvest in late September or early October.
Nine states have now passed bills allowing for hemp production. Eight more have passed bills calling for its study. Hemp is booming.
As a retail product in the USA, over half a billion dollars of hemp products were sold at the retail level alone in 2012, and this at a time when the growing of hemp was still unlawful! One can only imagine the explosive growth when farmers across the country begin harvesting hemp. And as social attitudes and legislation governing cannabis become more permissive, it is not unreasonable to expect the restrictions on growing hemp to ease off as well.
Hemp is poised to be one of the biggest stories over the next decade. Find a way to safely be part of it. And remember to tip your corn mash to the Bluegrass State in thanks.
About Peter Clausi
Mr. Clausi is an experienced investment banker and corporate director. A graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School and called to Ontario’s bar in 1990, Mr. Clausi has extensive experience in finance, shareholder rights and corporate growth. Mr. Clausi has been a guest lecturer at three Ontario MBA programs, and was an instructor at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s bar admission course for over 10 years. He is scheduled to speak at the 2nd Securities Compliance for Mining Conference in September, 2014. He is executive vice-president of corporate affairs and general counsel of GTA Resources and Mining Inc.; an independent director and audit committee member of Baja Mining Corp.; and an independent director of Aldrin Resources Corp.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This is a follow up to a story posted yesterday concerning an outbreak of violence via a “PURGE” in Louisville, Kentucky.
Please follow the link and read the story…
WAVE 3 News spoke with the juvenile claiming to be behind the tweet Friday night. The teen told reporters, “I didn’t think it would really get that serious until it actually did. Then I started feeling really bad about it because people’s mamma’s talkin’ bout movin’ to Indiana for the night and stuff. It was wrong for me to do that. I apologize to everybody in Louisville, I love my city it’s where I was born and raised. I love my city and don’t really wanna harm my city – I just thought it would be funny.”
Despite the social media attention about the prank, at 8 p.m. Friday, the time the Louisville Purge was supposed to start, people weren’t afraid. In fact, they were out and about all over over town.
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After a toxin from blue-green algae shut down Toledo’s water system, regulators in Kentucky and Indiana take a look at their states’ drinking water utilities.
Kentucky steps up response to toxic algae risks
James Bruggers, firstname.lastname@example.org 2:04 p.m. EDT August 15, 2014
When toxic algae left 500,000 people in the Toledo, Ohio, area without drinking water for two days this month, one of Kentucky’s top environmental regulators took notice.
"I was sitting there on a Friday evening, hearing various things from various counterparts, and I was thinking this can happen in my state," recalled R. Bruce Scott, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. "What are we doing to be prepared?"
First thing the following Monday, Scott put that question to his staff, and Kentucky officials have been working since to get answers by combing through documents filed by many of the state’s 467 public drinking water systems, and reaching out to some with questions.
The inquiry steps up Kentucky’s response to its emerging problem of toxic algae blooms, first documented in the state in late 2012 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Taylorsville Lake.
The review puts drinking water safety front and center, in addition to state and Army Corps concerns about recreational exposure to blue-green algae — a cyanobacteria that can produce toxins causing skin or eye irritation, nausea, flu-like symptoms and liver damage.
The blooms occur with sunlight, slow-moving water and too many nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They’re made worse by pollution from sewage treatment plants, septic systems and runoff from fertilized farms and lawns.
Toxic algae makes a comeback at Kentucky and Indiana lakes
For the second year in a row, Kentucky and the corps have issued recreational advisories on some lakes because of the blooms. In all, 10 Kentucky lakes carry the warnings, including Barren River, Nolin River, Green River, Rough River and Guist Creek lakes.
None is closed to swimming, fishing or boating. Instead, authorities advise not swallowing lake water and washing well after swimming.
Source water concerns
In response to a Kentucky Open Records request, state officials acknowledged 10 public drinking water systems serving thousands of customers in Kentucky are drawing water from lakes with algae advisories.
They include the Shelbyville Water and Sewer Commission, Edmonson County Water District and the Grayson County Water District.
State officials said they know of no immediate drinking water threats from algae anywhere in Kentucky. And officials with the Louisville Water Co. — which provides water to about 850,000 people in Louisville and parts of Bullitt, Nelson, Oldham, Shelby and Spencer counties — said they do not have any issues with toxic algae.
But state officials said they want all Kentucky drinking water providers to be ready to handle algae problems, and that is why they are taking a closer look at Kentucky’s drinking water systems.
State officials acknowledged even more systems could be at potential risk, where monitoring for toxic algae has not yet occurred. And Scott said there could be gaps in technology or expertise at some utilities, especially smaller systems with fewer resources.
"We need to make sure we are properly educating and informing our smaller systems of what they need to do," Scott said. "We are asking what can and should be done to make sure we are looking at everything that needs to be looked at."
If Kentucky water utilities don’t have procedures for analyzing their source water for the different types of toxic algae, state officials recommend developing some.
Scott said they want to make sure all systems understand what treatment methods work, and have an emergency response plan if their water becomes unsafe for drinking.
Rural water systems contacted by The Courier-Journal said their customers don’t need to worry.
"We are staying on top of it," said Tom Dole, general manager of the Shelbyville Water and Sewer Commission, which draws water from Guist Creek Lake.
"We are not experiencing … anything like the conditions that we read (about) and saw in Toledo," said Kevin Shaw, general manager of the Grayson County Water District, which draws from Rough River Lake. "You could look at the water and see the algae. That is not the case in our reservoir."
Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management surveyed its 33 public water utilities that rely on lakes in the wake of Toledo’s crisis, said Barry Sneed, IDEM spokesman. Bloomington’s water system was concerned about algae, so new samples were taken but no toxins or algae were detected, he added.
"We plan to keep in contact with systems that may be susceptible to algal blooms and if problems arise, we will work with the system to ensure treatment is adjusted to any address possible algal toxins," he said.
Map of Kentucky and Inidiana lakes with elevated toxic algae
Besides ensuring drinking water utilities are prepared, experts say Kentucky needs to do more to prevent the blooms.
"We need to step up our game," said Gail Brion, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Kentucky with an expertise in water-borne illnesses and water treatment.
She said the state needs to better curb the nitrogen and phosphorous that gets into waterways from sewage, animal waste, fertilizers and other sources.
"Once a bloom has happened, it is too late," she said. "The toxins persist in the environment months after formation, so even if the algae leave, the toxins can remain."
Scott said Kentucky regulators know they need better control of nutrient pollution and his department is working on a nutrient-management plan to do just that.
But environmentalists worry the state won’t adopt stringent enough pollution limits and that state environmental agency budgets will continue, further putting Kentucky communities at risk of a drinking water crises.
"We need limits on pollutants and inspectors on the ground," said Judy Petersen, executive director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, which has joined other groups in suing the EPA over nutrient pollution in the Mississippi Basin, including Kentucky and Indiana. Otherwise, she said, Kentucky residents "are rolling the dice" on safe drinking water.
When it comes to cyanobacteria, it quickly gets complicated.
The toxin that wreaked havoc in northern Ohio — microcystin — can be produced by a variety of blue-green algae, not just the Microcystic found in Lake Erie. And other types of blue-green algae have different toxins that can cause health problems.
Toledo draws water from a shallow area of Lake Erie that became inundated by blue-green algae that produced microcystin, said Greg Boyer, chair of the chemistry department at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in New York.
The city’s water utility had no ability to switch to another intake, where there was less blue-green algae, said Boyer, who is also acting director for the Great Lakes Research Consortium, a research network.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had warned Toledo about problems with its aging treatment system in June, writing to the city’s mayor of "the precarious condition" of the system and its "imminent vulnerability to failure."
Boyer said utilities should monitor for the types of blue-green algae that can produce toxins. He said equipment can be bought for $5,000 to $25,000 that can provide a continuous flow of toxic algae data.
"Then, at what point do you worry about it? We deal, in most cases, where the blooms have to be fairly thick," he said. "When you can see it."
Further complicating matters, Scott said, is that the EPA has yet to establish a uniform testing method for the algae toxins, or safe drinking water standards. EPA is working on that, but "we believe they need to accelerate their decision making based on what we are seeing in Toledo and other places, including Kentucky," Scott said.
Toxic algae effects and precautions
Taylorsville Lake in Spencer County, a popular summer destination for water recreation, has fallen victim to an invasive and toxic algae over the past year. (Photo: Marty Pearl/Special to The CJ)
The Louisville Water Co. has an algae response plan that involves close tracking of algae in the Ohio River when it may be present: April to November.
The company’s aquatic ecologist, Roger Tucker, checks water samples through a microscope to determine what types of algae may be in the water, and whether they might cause any problems.
So far, the only algae problems Louisville Water has experienced comes from those that can make water taste or smell bad, Tucker said. This year, he said, there has been hardly any algae in the company’s river water.
Rivers are also less likely to have algae blooms because their water doesn’t get stagnant, said the water company’s chief scientist, Rengao Song. Sediment that often turns the Ohio brown blocks sunlight, preventing algae from growing, he said.
The water company’s Crescent Hill Treatment Plant is well-equipped to remove algae and any algae-caused toxins or chemicals that cause taste and odor changes, with processes that include absorptive activated carbon, he said.
Louisville also gets 30 percent of its water from wells deep under the Ohio River, where sand and gravel naturally filter tiny contaminants, including algae. That water feeds the company’s B.E. Payne treatment plant.
The water company is now working with engineering consultants on preliminary engineering for riverbank filtration for its Crescent Hill plant. Such a system should have no risk from toxic algae, Song said.
"The Louisville Water Co. has never detected any algae cells in its riverbank filtration water," Song said.
Reach reporter James Bruggers at (502) 582-4645 or on Twitter @jbruggers.
Kentucky water systems that draw from lakes with toxic algae advisories:
• Shelbyville Water and Sewer Commission (Guist Creek Lake)
• Springfield Water Works (Willisburg Lake)
• Glasgow Water Co. and Scottsville Water Department (Barren River Lake)
• Edmonson County Water District (Nolin River Lake)
• Columbia/Adair County Regional Water Commission and Campbellsville Municipal Water (Green River Lake)
• Grayson County Water District and Litchfield Water Works (Rough River Lake)
• Mount Sterling Water Works (Greenbriar Creek Reservoir)
Source: Kentucky Division of WaterRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Tanya Diente | August 15, 2014 5:17 PM EST
Threats of a real-life "purge" that’s said to happen this weekend during the Kentucky State Fair had residents of Louisville fear for their lives and police officials have taken the matter into their own hands.
Police officers according to WLKY are said to be preparing for a "purge" that’s due to happen from Friday, at 8:30 p.m. until Saturday, at 6:30 p.m. News of the threat reportedly came from fliers and posters advertising the crime spree. Coincidentally, the "purge" is also scheduled in time for the opening celebration of the Kentucky State Fair. WLKY reports other information points out that it will also take place in upcoming concerts and local high school football games.
Tiffany Stephan, a local resident dismissed the purge threats as being real. She said it’s "nonsense to do some of the stuff from the movies like murders."
But the immense reactions over the threat have reportedly caught the attention of the police officials, the FBI and even the Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) districts. According to WLKY, some residents have even decided to arm themselves in case it happens.
However, Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Phil Russell assured residents that LMPD will investigate "anytime that there is a treat [sic] that affects" the community.
"Due to circumstances that have trended nationally in regards to flash mob violence, in light of what occurred this past spring here, we realize that these things can occur in an instant," he said.
"If someone is threatening to harm members of our community, then we’re going to investigate them and pursue that as best we can," he added.
Jeffersonville police and the FBI have reportedly also released a similar statement regarding the threat. Although there’s no mention of "specific mobilization tactics," JCPS are said to be working closely with law enforcement and will act accordingly in case the "purge" does happen.
According to Inquisitr, Louisville MPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell also assured residents that they have nothing to fear since the department will be ready if incase the crime spree does take place. He claimed the department "take any threat seriously."
"Fortunately we’re hoping that nothing happens as a result, but we’re prepared in case something does," he said.
"The Purge" as described in IMDB is a 2013 Hollywood movie with its story set sometime in the near future, where crime is considered legal for a period of 12 hours. People will be allowed to commit murder, rape, and assault. Even theft is legal and inmates are being set free during that time period.
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and we think we live in hell….
Still pursuing solar generating facility request
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Aug. 12, 2014) — Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company informed the Kentucky Public Service Commission today that they will withdraw their application for a second natural gas combined-cycle generating facility, but plan to continue to pursue a solar generating facility.
The announcement comes as a result of nine municipal utility customers’ decision to terminate in 2019 their wholesale power contracts with Kentucky Utilities. Those contracts total approximately 320 megawatts of peak demand.
LG&E and KU filed the request with the KPSC in January to build an approximately 700-megawatt NGCC generating facility in Muhlenberg County and a 10-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility in Mercer County. The need for the NGCC, which was expected to be completed by 2018 and cost approximately $700 million, was based in part on energy forecasts through 2035 that included serving the municipal customers.
Following the municipal utilities’ termination notices, LG&E and KU put the new generation requests on hold for 90 days to weigh the impacts of the termination notices on future generation plans. As a result, LG&E and KU have decided to withdraw their application for the NGCC. Plans remain in place for the $36 million solar facility at KU’s existing Brown facility. If approved, the solar unit would go online in 2016.
“We’ve analyzed the situation carefully and believe that it is in the best interest of all of our customers to withdraw our current application for the natural gas combined-cycle unit in Western Kentucky,” said Paul W. Thompson, chief operating officer. “Removing more than 300 megawatts of demand changes our load forecasts and thus delays the need for new generation.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer beside his wife, T.J., as he announces his bid for governor.
Credit Alix Mattingly/WFPL News
FANCY FARM—Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer officially announced his bid for governor Saturday at the 134th annual Fancy Farm political picnic. He’s the third candidate to launch an gubernatorial bid in the 2015 race.
"It’s been my dream come true to be your commissioner of agriculture," Comer said before a packed audience at the St. Jerome Church picnic grounds. "And I view the people of Western Kentucky as our family. So [my wife] T.J. and I have chosen this time, and this place, to say to all of you, I will be a candidate for governor in 2015."
The announcement now pits Comer, a Republican who succeeded Richie Farmer in 2012, against Hal Heiner, a Republican who narrowly lost to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer in a 2010 election.
Thus far, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is the lone Democratic candidate in the race.
In his Fancy Farm speech, Conway neglected the looming specter of a Comer candidacy—nor did he address Heiner—in lieu of trumpeting his accomplishments as attorney general; namely his office’s successes in combating online child pornography and cracking down on prescription pain pill abuse, he said.
Comer said he will officially file his paperwork Sept. 9 at an inaugural campaign event in Tompkinsville, Ky. According to Kentucky law, gubernatorial candidates must include a lieutenant governor in their ticket when they file their candidacy.
Speculation has centered on Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican state senator from Taylor Mill who owns a construction business. Elected in 2012, McDaniel is also chairman state Senate’s Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance, and Public Protection.
"You know, people have a lot of rumors out there," McDaniel said, adding that he’s been in talks with Comer about joining the ticket. "But, you know, right now I’m focused on doing my job in the Senate, I obviously own a business back home, and we’ve got a lot of races ahead of us this fall, so we’ll look forward to those."
Comer took aim at Heiner in his Fancy Farm speech, saying that the next governor won’t be "a millionaire from Louisville."
Comer denied that the comment suggests that his campaign is attempting to employ an urban-rural schism between himself and Heiner and Conway, both of whom live in Louisville."
"I’ve got a lot of support in Louisville," Comer said.
Heiner was not permitted to speak at this year’s event. Fancy Farm political director Mark Wilson said the event only allows sitting elected officials to speak. But just last year, GOP Senate candidate Matt Bevin, a conservative bell manufacturer who lost a primary race against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell earlier this year, spoke at 2013’s picnic.
Bevin was also making rounds at Saturday’s picnic, and said he’s considering a running for governor, too.
"I’m considering it and I’m not considering it," Bevin said.
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He’s carving out marijuana policy as an area of leadership, and that has some activists very, very excited.
By Lucia Graves
If he runs for president, Sen. Rand Paul will not be your typical Republican candidate. On Thursday the Kentucky senator filed yet another amendment protecting the states that have implemented medical-marijuana laws—as well as the patients and doctors acting in accordance with them—from federal prosecution.
The amendment, attached to the "Bring Jobs Home Act," would allow states to "enact and implement laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical use" without threat of federal interference. The measure would also protect patients in places where medical marijuana is legal (23 states and the District of Columbia) from prosecution for violating federal marijuana laws.
Paul, who is widely believed to be eyeing the presidency, introduced a separate measure in June to stop the Drug Enforcement Administration from using federal funds to go after medical-marijuana operations that are legal under state law. A similar version of the amendment introduced by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Sam Farr easily passed the lower chamber in May, underscoring marijuana’s growing national acceptance.
Paul’s press person has said that the new amendment, if enacted, would go beyond the Farr-Rohrabacher legislation by providing a more formal framework for protecting states that have enacted medical-marijuana laws.
While passage of the amendment is unlikely—it’s not even expected to come up for a vote—the news of its introduction was excitedly written up by a host of advocacy sites, including Hemp News, Stop the Drug War and Ladybud, where advocates encouraged readers to contact their senator in support of Amendment 3630. "When calling or writing, remember that you catch more flies with sugar than honey," advises one post, presumably meaning you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. "Reframing the medical cannabis issue as a human-rights issue, not a partisan one, will also help."
Paul also has been outspoken in his support for industrial hemp, working with his fellow senator from Kentucky, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to pass a measure earlier this year allowing states to grow industrial hemp for research. The legislation is a boon to farmers in Eastern Kentucky, and while it may seem like little more than a pet project for Kentuckians, marijuana activists have been quietly cheering ever since they first got wind of Paul’s plan.
Republicans’ views on medical marijuana have been shifting over the past few years and the Farr-Rohrabacher vote in the House is only the most recent proof. Recent polling by the Pew Research Center found most Americans think pot should be legal, in contrast to a decade ago when voters opposed it by a 2-to-1 ratio, and that there’s broad agreement that government enforcement of marijuana laws is not worth the cost. One poll from 2013 found that 78 percent of independents and 67 percent of Republicans think government enforcement efforts cost more than they’re worth. Younger Americans are even more likely to think so.
A recent story in the Los Angeles Times details why Republicans are slowly embracing marijuana, arguing that the rise of the tea party has given an unforeseen boost to legalization. The story notes tea partiers see the federal government’s position on marijuana as an example of government overreach, and quotes Dan Riffle, then a lobbyist with the Marijunana Policy Project, saying Igor Birman, a tea-party candidate looking to knock out Democrat Ami Berra in a congressional swing district in California, is among a growing number of pro-reform Republicans.
"To many political observers, it looks like Rand Paul is already eyeing a run for the GOP nomination for president in 2016," marijuana activist Joe Klare wrote in The 420 Times at the time. "Someone in the White House that supports industrial hemp—and drug-policy reform in general—would be a huge boost to the prospects of actual reform on a federal level."
Marijuana has been called "the sleeper issue of 2016" and something that’s only going to get bigger. As a libertarian senator, Paul has long been in favor of decriminalization and is quite clearly the most pro-reform Republican 2016 contender on the issue of marijuana. (While other likely contenders, such as Florida’s Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, haven’t weighed in on medical marijuana, others, like New Jersey’s Chris Christie have come out against it.) Paul has been considered a leader on the issue in Congress, and even sided with President Obama in noting that minorities are unfairly burdened by drug laws. And as Slate‘s Dave Weigel noted earlier this year, conservatives have stayed with him on the issue, especially as Paul assured them his interest was not in legalizing hard drugs but in reducing minimum sentences. (In 2013 he alienated some activists by claiming the drug was "not healthy").
For now, Paul is not backing away from those marijuana-reform bona fides, and the fact that he’s been so outspoken on the issue this summer should encourage activists. Indeed on other issues, such as his position on relations with Israel, he’s been massaging his approach ahead of an expected run.
"It’s pretty clear that Rand Paul is working hard to appeal to diverse constituencies as he weighs throwing his hat into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination," Tom Angell, a spokesman for the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority, said in an email. "With polls showing supermajority support for medical marijuana across virtually every demographic group, it makes sense Sen. Paul would want to be at the forefront of efforts to modernize these outdated federal laws. And with five U.S. House floor votes in a row coming out favorably for cannabis-policy reformers over the past few months, we expect to see more senators realizing that getting onto the winning side of this issue is a smart move."
It certainly might expand the pool of people who’d consider voting for a Republican.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
by Melissa Swan
Posted on August 12, 2014 at 12:11 AM
Updated Tuesday, Aug 12 at 12:12 AM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) — A man form Colorado is staking his time, money and experience on a farm in Kentucky all to make medicine from hemp.
“I use the word phenomenon. Agriculture phenomenon, in Kentucky’s very, very near future,” Josh Stanley said.
In Colorado, Stanley is known as a medical marijuana pioneer.
Stanley and four of his brothers have cultivated many forms of medical pot to help control seizures in children. They said they believe it can help others, including cancer patients and veterans.
“It worked for depression, it worked to curb the post traumatic stress disorder, the flair ups, it worked so well we were astonished,” Stanley said.
Earlier this year, Stanley was front and center in Frankfort testifying before Kentucky lawmakers about the Colorado Cannabis.
In an exclusive WHAS11 interview, Stanley talked about moving the base of his operation to Kentucky. But here, he said, he isn’t concentrating on medical marijuana which is still illegal in Kentucky. Instead, he will shift his focus to hemp.
“I don’t use the cannabis word or the marijuana word. That turns people off immediately. What we’re dealing in is hemp. Both in nutritional and medical purposes,” he said.
He’s investing in Kentucky, partnering with farmers on two pilot project and in the market to buy land.
“Kentucky is the place to be and Kentucky is going to be the example for the rest of the country. I am confident of that,” Stanley said.
Stanley said his interest in medicinal hemp began with his own back injury. He was using pharmaceutical drugs when his friend told him to try hemp.
He said within three weeks he was off all pain pills.
Since then, Stanley and his brothers have been at the forefront of creating strains of medical marijuana in Colorado with drastically reduced levels of THC (the substance that gets you high) and turning it into medicine.
Now, he said Kentucky is on the forefront of making medicine – from hemp.
“There are so many unanswered questions, but we are not going to answer them unless we get to it. What my company, and now non-profit organization, seeks to do is lend a hand,” he said.
This fall the hemp from this farm will be turned into an oil – CBD oil — and distributed to children and veterans.
“My hope is in the pilot project that we can take care of 400. We need to be able to take care of 400,000, but that’s OK. It’s a start. You have to start somewhere,” Stanley said.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Monday, Aug 11, 2014 10:22 AM CST
Mitch McConnell and Allison Lundergan Grimes both love coal — and it’s making them say very silly things
The Kentucky Senate race is basically an argument over coal. A big, stupid argument over coal.
Late last week, Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody reported that Elaine Chao, wife to incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, serves on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, “which has plunged $50 million into the Sierra Club’s ‘Beyond Coal’ initiative, an advocacy effort with the expressed goal of killing the coal industry.” Taken in isolation, this is good, charitable work that, to be frank, you wouldn’t expect a former member of George W. Bush’s Cabinet and Heritage Foundation fellow to be involved in.
And according to Bloomberg Philanthropies, the anti-coal effort is getting results. “The Beyond Coal campaign has retired 161 coal plants,” a February report from the organization states. “The shift away from coal is also helping to save lives. These retired coal plants will save 4,400 lives, prevent 6,800 heart attacks, and prevent close to 70,000 asthma attacks each year.”
Those are good things! The filthy business of coal mining and burning are causing lots of health problems in Kentucky and other Appalachian states, like higher rates of cancer and birth defects that studies have traced to the release of heavy metals from surface mining. The climate change impact is also significant, as coal-fired plants are the top source of carbon emissions in the United States. Less cancer, fewer heart attacks, decreased risk of climate change-caused catastrophe – great job, Elaine Chao! Wouldn’t have pegged you as one of the good guys.
Of course, that’s not at all how this is playing in Kentucky, where coal is a big part of the state economy and pandering to coal interests is what needs to happen if you want to get elected to statewide office. Thus we have the spectacle of the McConnell campaign vigorously and adamantly denying that its candidate’s wife had any involvement whatsoever in this philanthropic effort to not cover Kentucky with soot and asthma:
“The decisions to make those grants by the Bloomberg philanthropies were made before she joined the board and she played no role in the decision to grant them,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told Yahoo News. “Sen. McConnell has a longstanding, principled record of defending coal families and jobs. Decisions made by a board before Sec. Chao ever joined do not change that and as the Obama administration will tell you, he hasn’t let up an iota in his defense of Kentucky coal families and jobs.”
That’s a bit of a cutesy position to take, given that they’re tacitly acknowledging that Chao joined Bloomberg Philanthropies after their anti-coal activism was established. And local Kentucky media reported that Chao was “on the charity’s board when at least half of the grants were made to the Sierra Club.” But this is how coal politics work. You have to reject and denounce the life- and environment-saving charitable work done by the group your wife works for.
(The Louisville Courier-Journal pointed out that Bloomberg Philanthropies also does anti-tobacco activism, which is at cross-purposes with McConnell’s “staunch” defense of Kentucky tobacco interests.)
I certainly don’t want to leave the impression that this is a McConnell-only problem, though. Being a Democrat in Kentucky means you have to play this same game, and McConnell’s opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, is positioning herself as a stronger supporter of coal than he is. “Senator, let’s set the record straight. I’m the only pro-coal candidate in this race,” Grimes said last week at an event with members of the United Mine Workers of America. When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its new rule capping carbon emissions for existing power plants, Grimes cut radio ads blasting President Obama: “Your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie in the sky regulations that are impossible to achieve.”
Grimes’ pro-coal campaigning led to one of the dumber campaign fights in recent memory. Her campaign put together a newspaper ad touting her support of coal interests that featured a photo of a miner holding a chunk of anthracite. It turned out that picture was actually a stock photo of a European male model pretending to be a miner, and the Grimes campaign replaced it before it went to print. But Politico got hold of the story and … well, you know what comes next. “The stock photograph could undermine Grimes’s messaging as Republicans raise doubts about the authenticity of her pro-coal position,” Politico reported, with complete earnestness.
McConnell’s campaign jumped on this ridiculous issue, with the candidate himself getting in on the action. “My opponent has been in Hollywood so much lately that she really can’t tell the difference between a coal miner and a European male model,” McConnell said at a campaign event. The Grimes campaign fought back. “The stock photo war of 2014 escalated in Kentucky on Thursday night, as Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign attacked Sen. Mitch McConnell’s team for using European stock photos in three Facebook posts,” reported Politico (obviously).
This is where pro-coal campaigning takes you, I guess. It would be nice if the debate in Kentucky were on how to best transition the state away from filthy, toxic fuels. But, the politics being what they are, instead they’re fighting over who’s more the enthusiastic supporter of an industry that is destroying the environment and making the people in close proximity to it sick.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
PLEASE TAKE THIS ARTICLE SERIOUSLY! IT CAN MEAN LIFE AND DEATH!
Originally posted on Q13 FOX News:
On July 11, Connor Eckhardt inhaled one hit of dried herbs that had been sprayed with chemicals to cause a pot-like high, his parents said.
“In a moment of peer pressure, he gave into that, thinking that was OK, it was somehow safe, and one hit later, he goes to sleep and never wakes up,” Connor’s father, Devin Eckhardt, said.
Connor Eckhardt quickly slipped into a coma and experienced brain swelling, his parents said.
Effects of smoking the often-legal product include altered mental state, irregular heartbeat and seizures, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“These substances are not benign,” Dr Andrew Monte, the lead author of an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine…
View original 72 more words
By SERGE F. KOVALESKIAUG. 9, 2014
Above: Suman Chandra checking marijuana plants at a federal marijuana facility at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Credit Lance Murphey for The New York Times
Nearly four years ago, Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist at the University of Arizona, sought federal approval to study marijuana’s effectiveness in treating military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. She had no idea how difficult it would be.
The proposal, which has the support of veterans groups, was hung up at several regulatory stages, requiring the research’s private sponsor to resubmit multiple times. After the proposed study received final approval in March from federal health officials, the lone federal supplier of research marijuana said it did not have the strains the study needed and would have to grow more — potentially delaying the project until at least early next year.
Then, in June, the university fired Dr. Sisley, later citing funding and reorganization issues. But Dr. Sisley is convinced the real reason was her outspoken support for marijuana research.
“They could never get comfortable with the idea of this controversial, high-profile research happening on campus,” she said.
Dr. Sue Sisley said the University of Arizona had fired her because of her outspoken support for marijuana research. Credit Laura Segall for The New York Times
Dr. Sisley’s case is an extreme example of the obstacles and frustrations scientists face in trying to study the medical uses of marijuana. Dating back to 1999, the Department of Health and Human Services has indicated it does not see much potential for developing marijuana in smoked form into an approved prescription drug. In guidelines issued that year for research on medical marijuana, the agency quoted from an accompanying report that stated, “If there is any future for marijuana as a medicine, it lies in its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives.”
Scientists say this position has had a chilling effect on marijuana research.
Though more than one million people are thought to use the drug to treat ailments ranging from cancer to seizures to hepatitis C and chronic pain, there are few rigorous studies showing whether the drug is a fruitful treatment for those or any other conditions.
A major reason is this: The federal government categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive of five groups established by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Drugs in this category — including heroin, LSD, peyote and Ecstasy — are considered to have no accepted medical use in the United States and a high potential for abuse, and are subject to tight restrictions on scientific study.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
In My Opinion
1/24/2014 8:35:49 PM
Make no mistake about it we are at war within our own country. In fact the whole world is at war with each other. Furthermore we have been at war in
Make no mistake about it we are at war within our own country. In fact the whole damn world is at war with each other.
Furthermore, we have been at war in our own country since the arrival of the Mayflower. But for this opinion I will only go back as far as September 11, 2001. The day the world changed forever for the citizens of the United States.
When the attack on the World Trade Center’s occurred on that day, we all assumed that it was a foreign entity which had cursed us with that attack. There are doubts about that scenario now. But it really does not matter what “entity” commanded that the attack take place. It only matters that it did and how it changed our perception of reality forever.
We were in shock. We were taken advantage of. We were misguided and conveniently suppressed of information. That information was the truth about what was about to happen us in the following ten years. In those years following we have become increasingly more oppressed and depressed as a general population.
We are becoming desperate as can be seen in the uprisings around the world, a general displeasure of the people can be seen across all countries, races, ethnic groups, civil rights advocates, and last but not least the OCCUPY movement which has went around the world. Violence is ever increasing.
The laws are ever changing and becoming more invasive of our private lives. Censorship and video surveillance have become the norm of our lives and freedom of speech although seemingly rampant and ongoing at the present online will meet its maker with passage of new laws to censor our every move across the World Wide Web.
“As if they haven’t been tracking us for the past ten years anyway”…
Like an owl swooping down on his prey, in the name of security we have lost almost all of our rights as U.S. Citizens. The Constitution is becoming nothing more than a historical document to put in a museum.
What happened to “government of the people, by the people and for the people”? It has become a plutocracy, “of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich”. How do we win this war? We won’t. They are smarter than us. We have proven that already by buying into the surveillance of virtually every moment of our daily lives via face book and other social networks. All of this technology came about for our convenience and we were naïve enough to carry it in through our front doors and even into our bedrooms. We are all walking tracking devices in one form or another or even multiple ways.
Who is running the government? We do not really know. Where did all the money go? We do not really know. Who ordered the attack on the World Trade Center’s? We don’t really know. Who can we trust? We do not know. Can you trust your bank? Can you trust your doctor or the pharmaceutical company that makes the real snake oil of this millennium? Probably not. If you can, you are one of the lucky few.
So now that we have spent the last 40 odd years protesting for one thing or another and all the faith, hope and respect has faded in the grave what do we do now? We have effectively completed their mission for them by creating the very thing that they needed to invoke “security for the country”. Do we have a voice? Yes. Do they hear us? Yes. Do they care what we think? Absolutely not. They are into their own agenda of the NWO and that is all there is to it. There is no stopping the bastards. They have more money, more “security forces” conveniently brainwashed into their agenda, and a lot more bullets than we, the people, could ever come up with. It would be another bloody civil war that would make the last one look like a walk in the park. They have us lock, stock and barrel.
You may argue the point that we still have our voting rights. And that would be a valid point. However, for some unknown reason most of the country still chooses not to exercise that right. The vote hasn’t been legitimate for many years and ignorance is or at least was bliss. It isn’t anymore.
So plant your gardens. Stock up on necessities as much as you can. And make an “escape” plan, (with an alternate plan “B”) just in case chaos breaks out near you. That is providing martial law hasn’t been invoked yet and your neighborhood isn’t staked off.
Say your prayers and ask forgiveness for your sins. Plan for the worst and hope and pray for the best.
Then just sit back, relax and watch what happens.
“We know you can see us”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Editor’s Note:This story is the fifth part in a series of articles and video documentaries that surveys the state of the legal marijuana and hemp industries.To read the previous article on hemp and marijuana executives tied to crimes, go here.
MURRAY STATE UNIVERSITY, Kentucky—In 1994, Chris Boucher planted industrial hemp at the USDA Research Center in Imperial Valley, California. As the owner of a company that sold hemp T-shirts, wallets, backpacks and hemp seed oil, Boucher figured it would be just a few years before growing hemp in the United States was legal.
Earlier this month, Boucher was beaming while exploring a hemp field at Murray State University.
“We’ve waited almost 20 years to this day for hemp to be legal in the United States," he declared here on a muggy-free day in July.
The trek to legalize marijuana’s cousin hemp is far from over. Earlier this year, Congress authorized the cultivation and growth of industrial hemp—but only for research purposes.
Industrial hemp hails from the same plant species (Cannabis Sativa L.) as marijuana, and federal law still classifies hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance along with such hardcore drugs as heroin, LSD and peyote. That’s in spite of the fact that hemp contains little of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that makes a smoker high: THC. Under this year’s Farm Bill, a plant meets the definition of “industrial hemp" if it contains no more than 0.3 percent of THC, otherwise known as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.
Chris Boucher of CannaVest Corp. inspects a hemp field at Murray State University. CannaVest donated the seeds for the hemp research project.
“I always like to say there’s more opiates in a poppy seed than there is THC in a hemp seed," said Boucher, who manages US Hemp Oil, a division of CannaVest Corp., a developer and marketer of hemp-based consumer products with a focus on the compound cannabidiol (CBD). “Looking at it from that standpoint, I think logic will dictate the outcome here on the legality of industrial hemp."
Kentucky Leads Hemp Pilot Projects
Of the world’s industrialized countries, the United States is the only one that prohibits production of industrial hemp, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. An estimated 55,700 metric tons of industrial hemp are produced annually around the world, with China, Russia and South Korea supplying 70 percent of a crop that is used in such products as paper, foods and nutritional supplements, the state agency said.
Kentucky, whose largest industry is agriculture, is striving to capitalize on hemp production should Congress eventually authorize it for commercial production. Section 7606 of the Farm Bill is the first step in that journey. President Obama signed the bill into law on Feb. 7, 2014, authorizing institutions of higher education or state agriculture departments to study the growth, cultivation or marketing of industrial hemp in states that permit the growth or cultivation of the crop.
Hemp has not been grown in the United States since 1957, according to Vote Hemp, a grassroots hemp advocacy organization.
"With the U.S. hemp industry estimated at over $500 million in annual retail sales and growing, a change in federal law to allow colleges and universities to grow hemp for research means that we will finally begin to regain the knowledge that unfortunately has been lost over the past 50 years," Vote Hemp president Eric Steenstra said in a statement following passage of the Farm Bill. "This is the first time in American history that industrial hemp has been legally defined by our federal government as distinct from drug varieties of cannabis."
Adam Watson, industry hemp program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, said his agency is leading the hemp pilot projects that the Farm Bill authorized.
“To the best of my knowledge, we have the most aggressive pilot program out there," he said.
Although a number of states have passed hemp laws, Boucher is aware of only one other state that is conducting research on hemp cultivation: Colorado, which happens to be only one of two states that has legalized marijuana for recreational use. In fact, Amendment 64—the 2012 ballot initiative that legalized recreational pot—also directed Colorado lawmakers to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp.
Following passage of an industrial hemp law last year by the Colorado General Assembly, roughly 200 private growers have registered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture for research and commercial purposes, said Ron Carleton, deputy commissioner of the agency. Of the 1,555 acres registered with the state agriculture department, 1,312 acres are for commercial purposes while 243 acres are for R&D, he said.
“I think once other states start to see … the success of this test crop, then we’ll see other states start to figure out how to get their rules lined up so they can do this," said Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), commenting on the hemp plants at Murray State University.
AHPA, CannaVest Executives Visit Hemp Field
McGuffin and a colleague from AHPA, Chief Information Analyst Merle Zimmermann, recently visited the hemp field there and met with CannaVest executives and university officials.
In Kentucky, under the oversight of the state agriculture department, a number of educational institutions are studying myriad aspects of industrial hemp from its sensitivity to herbicides (University of Kentucky) to how well it grows if the soil isn’t tilled (Murray State University).
Murray State University has grown what is perhaps the nation’s first legal industrial hemp in generations. The plants are located on a 250-acre farm that the university’s agriculture school manages to study various crops such as corn, tobacco and soybeans.
“This hemp was planted May the 12th, the first in the State of Kentucky and we believe in the nation," said Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, which enrolled nearly 900 students last fall and ranks among the largest non-land grant agriculture colleges in the nation.
By mid-summer, some plants had soared to be eight-feet tall.
Kentucky is a logical place to study hemp. Some locals have parents and grandparents who grew the crop. During World War II, Kentucky was a leader in hemp production, Brannon said.
“Our farmers are very good at adapting to whatever crop is there," he said. “It’s been said that you give us a market and Kentucky farmers will be overproducing it in a couple of years … If [industrial hemp is] a legal crop and it’s of economic value to our farmers and to our area, we definitely want to play whatever role we can."
Boucher and other CannaVest executives recently flew into Nashville, Tennessee from their offices in San Diego and drove the roughly two hours northwest to see the hemp field and chat with university officials about various aspects of the project, including future testing of the hemp and equipment needed to harvest the crop.
In the meetings, university staff expressed the importance of strictly following legal protocols, especially after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency seized hemp seeds that were bound for the state agriculture department. The seeds were later released and distributed to a number of universities after the state agriculture department filed a lawsuit against the DEA.
At Murray State University, where harvesting is likely to occur in October, CannaVest donated more than 100 pounds of hemp seeds, which are derived from France and are known as Futura 75. Those seeds were never seized by DEA. CannaVest also donated a bag of seeds to The Growing Warriors Project, a program that helps veterans grow produce.
Boucher, CannaVest’s vice president of product development, said professional hemp seed breeders designed the seeds to grow predominantly hemp fiber and seed.
“A farmer can sell his seeds and sell his fiber on the market and make a good profit," he said.
Industrial Hemp: No ‘Get-Rich-Quick Scheme’
It could be years, though, before the United States commercializes industrial hemp, and the opportunities are difficult to fully ascertain for obvious reasons: there is no domestic market yet and hemp is still classified as a controlled substance that cannot be cultivated outside the limited scope of the Farm Bill.
“Ultimately, it’s going to take time to determine what the ultimate marketable crop or products are going to be and it’s going to be economically driven," Watson said.
He said three to five years of data is required in order to be indicative of how a crop performs under various conditions such as dry and wet seasons and an average year.
“Producers need to have a crop reliably come off the field," Watson said. “They’ve got bills every season they’ve got to pay."
Brannon also is realistic about the opportunities for farmers.
“This is certainly no get-rich-quick scheme," he said. “We don’t know what the true economic value is going to be. But that’s where you start. That’s why we start with higher education to determine all the different variables."
CannaVest’s Boucher is stoked over the possibilities of U.S. hemp cultivation. In addition to sponsoring projects like the one at Murray State University, he described CannaVest’s longer-term plans to build mills in order to convert parts of the hemp plant into essential fatty acids and protein powder.
His vision wouldn’t be plausible had Congress not authorized hemp cultivation and research in the Farm Bill. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican from Kentucky, introduced the measure in the Farm Bill conference report.
“We know this field is 100 percent legal," Boucher said, “and this field here is a historical field that … is going to kickstart the American hemp industry once and for all."
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By Christina CrapanzanoMonday, Mar. 29, 2010
Long before Loretta Nall campaigned on her cleavage, the activist’s cause was cannabis. The Alabama resident gained national attention during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign when she produced T-shirts with the caption "More of these boobs …" (with a photo of Nall in a low-cut shirt) "… And less of these boobs" (next to photos of her opponents). But the write-in candidate’s political roots date back to 2002, when a misdemeanor arrest for possession was the spark behind her forming the U.S. Marijuana Party (USMJP). The group — which demands "an end to the unconstitutional prohibition of marijuana" — has official party chapters in seven states, including Colorado, Illinois and Kentucky. While Nall left the USMJP to be a Libertarian Party governor nominee, the group continues to back candidates in local, state and national elections under the leadership of Richard Rawlings, who is currently running for Congress in Illinois.
THE ABOVE WAS WRITTEN IN ‘TIME MAGAZINE’ ON MARCH 29, 2010.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky company used local tobacco to help produce an experimental serum to fight Ebola,
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky company used local tobacco to help produce an experimental serum to fight Ebola, which may help save two American aid workers stricken with the deadly disease.
David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds American Services, said Owensboro-based Kentucky BioProcessing complied with a request from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and Samaritan’s Purse this week "to provide a limited amount" of the compound, called ZMapp.
Kentucky BioProcessing, which was acquired by North Carolina-based Reynolds American Inc. in January, does contract work for many clients, including ZMapp maker Mapp Biopharmaceutical of San Diego.
Howard couldn’t confirm that the compound was used on the aid workers, and Emory officials didn’t respond by deadline to a call or email seeking confirmation. But The Associated Press, CNN and other media outlets reported that the aid workers have gotten the serum and have improved.
The fact that a Kentucky company focused on plant-based science played a part "is fantastic," said Kenneth Palmer, a University of Louisville professor who is involved in tobacco-based research in Owensboro but not in this project. "The more that (medicines) made in plants are used, the better the acceptance. … It gives tangible evidence of how what we do can be applied to help people."
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pointed out that ZMapp is not a proven treatment for Ebola but said it’s a good example of the intriguing science of growing medicines in tobacco plants.
"We’d love to see tobacco used for health," said Frieden, who was in Hazard, Ky., on Tuesday for a series of talks on health problems in Appalachia. But he added, "We don’t have proven treatments or vaccines against Ebola. … This Ebola outbreak is the biggest, worst, most complicated one that the world has ever seen."
Howard said tobacco helps in the production of ZMapp, acting like a "photocopier" to mass-produce proteins used to make the serum. Palmer said three, single-gene antibodies are put into trays of plants at Kentucky BioProcessing and replicate the antibodies after about 10 days.
Palmer likened it to antibodies being produced in the bodies of people or animals after an infection.
"What the plants are doing is pumping out the antibodies," Palmer said. "The plants are used to make the antibodies, and then they purify the antibodies."
"It’s faster than more traditional methods," Howard added. "It allows for rapid growth of proteins … on a reasonably large scale."
At the direction of Mapp, the Kentucky company developed a precursor to ZMapp, called MB-003, which was tested in non-human primates and showed good results, published last August in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Researchers said the treatment previously had been shown to protect all the primates when it was given an hour after exposure to Ebola, and two-thirds of them when given 48 hours after exposure.
‘We’d love to see tobacco used for health.’
Dr. Tom Frieden, director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In the study published last year, researchers said, 43 percent of infected primates recovered after getting the treatment intravenously up to 120 hours after they were infected and had developed symptoms.
ZMapp was never tested in humans, but even before the latest Ebola outbreak, the companies had planned later this year to begin the federal process to get the drug approved, Howard said.
Meanwhile, tobacco plants also will be used to develop a gel to prevent the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. University of Louisville researchers announced this week they will lead the international effort, which is being funded by a five-year, $14.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The gel — designed to be used during sexual intercourse by people at risk for HIV — is developed using a synthetic copy of a protein found in red algae shown to act against HIV in the lab.
Research is also underway at Louisville using tobacco plants to produce a cheaper version of the vaccine against human papillomavirus, which causes most cervical cancer.
University of Louisville President James Ramsey said all of the tobacco-based research is exciting, particularly in a state where smoking kills at the highest rate in the nation.
"It is ironic," Ramsey said in an interview Tuesday. "We’ve been a tobacco state, and it’s been such a part of our economy, and it’s pretty amazing that they can take tobacco and potentially solve some of the biggest health problems around the world."
Laura Ungar also reports for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-JournalRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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