Ideals For A Third Party Platform Here In The U.S.
1.) The Supreme Court decides the policy on abortion, not a politician.
2.) Guns and/or ammunition can not be outlawed from the public. To me, the only exception should be such things as machineguns. Grenades, C-4 and such weapons should be banned unless you have a specific permit to own them, like with a licensed collector.
3.) Recreational marijuana should be just as legal as alcohol, Federally! This government prohibition is just as ignorant and illegal as the prohibition of alcohol was in the 1930’s.
4.) Flat tax rate of 10% on all things, no write-offs, no exemptions, no loopholes. 6% Federal tax. 2% State tax. 1% each for County and City. I look at taxes this way, the Lord asks us to donate at least 10% toward Him which He requires us to help others with like our communities.
5.) All people running for any office must supply the prior 10 years of tax returns when they officially or unofficially announce they are ‘running’ for an Office.
6.) Mandatory retirement age for any Office of 72 years old. If a person is wanting to be elected to any office if they will turn 72 or older during that 2, 4 or 6 years then you are not allowed to be in that or any such Office. You say that is not legal that it is age discrimination, I say no, I believe you are incorrect. The reason is, you have to be a minimum of 35 to be allowed to be President. If that isn’t discrimination then neither is my idea of being to old.
Just a thought folks on what I would like to see as the Platform of a 3rd political party. so here it is.
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The three major national polls in America are increasingly converging on one point: Marijuana legalization is very popular in the US.
The latest finding, from the recently released General Social Survey by NORC at the University of Chicago, shows that 61 percent of people supported marijuana legalization in 2018. That’s up from 57 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000 — a rapid shift in public opinion in less than two decades.
This is far more popular than a lot of politicians who oppose legalization. For reference, President Donald Trump currently holds a 45 percent approval rating in Gallup’s tracker — an unusually high number for him, but also roughly in line with where Barack Obama’s approval numbers were around this point in his presidency. It’s also more than either Trump or Obama got in elections, with Trump getting 46 percent of the vote in 2016 — losing to Hillary Clinton in popular vote but not the Electoral College — and Obama getting 53 percent in 2008.
One caveat: Support for legalization seems to be lower if you specify recreational marijuana. A recent survey from YouGov, for example, found that just 50 percent of Americans back recreational marijuana legalization, versus 31 percent opposition. That could be an outlier, but it could suggest that some of the support picked up by the General Social Survey, Gallup, and Pew reflects support for medical marijuana, not full legalization.
Still, the dramatic turnaround in public opinion helps explain why the great majority of expected and announced Democratic presidential candidates support marijuana legalization. And it explains why more states — now 10 states and Washington, DC — have legalized pot to varying degrees through a ballot initiative or legislature.
Supporters of legalization argue that it eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: the hundreds of thousands of arrests around the US, the racial disparities behind those arrests, and the billions of dollars that flow from the black market for illicit marijuana to drug cartels that then use the money for violent operations around the world. All of this, legalization advocates say, will outweigh any of the potential downsides — such as increased cannabis use — that might come with legalization.
Opponents, meanwhile, claim that legalization will enable a huge marijuana industry that will market the drug irresponsibly. They point to America’s experiences with the alcohol and tobacco industries, which have built their financial empires in large part on some of the heaviest consumers of their products. This could result in far more people using pot, even if it leads to negative health consequences.
Based on the latest polling, supporters of legalization increasingly outnumber opponents.
Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.
He now faces US federal conspiracy charges related to one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets.
The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange, in response to allegations by the Department for Justice that he conspired with former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to download classified databases.
He faces up to five years in US prison if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said they would be fighting the extradition request. She said it set a “dangerous precedent” where any journalist could face US charges for “publishing truthful information about the United States”.
She said she had visited Assange in the police cells where he thanked supporters and said: “I told you so.”
Assange had predicted that he would face extradition to the US if he left the embassy.
What happened in court?
After his arrest, the 47-year-old Australian national was initially taken to a central London police station before appearing in court.
Dressed in a black suit and black polo shirt, he waved to the public gallery and gave a thumbs up. He pleaded not guilty to the 2012 charge of failing to surrender to the court.
Finding him guilty of that charge, District Judge Michael Snow said Assange’s behaviour was “the behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest”.
He sent him to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing, where he faces up to 12 months in prison.
The court also heard that during his arrest at the embassy he had to be restrained and shouted: “This is unlawful, I am not leaving.”
Why does the US government want to extradite Assange?
Assange set up Wikileaks in 2006 with the aim of obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images.
The organisation hit the headlines four years later when it released footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.
Former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than 700,000 confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy website.
She said she only did so to spark debates about foreign policy, but US officials said the leak put lives at risk.
She was found guilty by a court martial in 2013 of charges including espionage. However, her jail sentence was later commuted.
Manning downloaded four databases from US departments and agencies between January and May 2010, the indictment says. This information, much of which was classified, was provided to Wikileaks.
The US Justice Department described it as “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States”.
Cracking a password stored on the computers, the indictment alleges, would have allowed Manning to log on to them in such a way as to make it harder for investigators to determine the source of the disclosures. It is unclear whether the password was actually broken.
Correspondents say the narrowness of the charge seems intended to avoid falling foul of the US Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press.
Why did the Ecuadorian embassy stop protecting him?
The Wikileaks co-founder had been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after seeking asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation.
The investigation into the alleged rape, which he denied, was later dropped because he had evaded the arrest warrant. The Swedish Prosecution Authority has said it is now considering whether to resume the inquiry before the statute of limitations runs out in August 2020.
Scotland Yard said it was invited into the embassy on Thursday by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.
Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno said the country had “reached its limit on the behaviour of Mr Assange”.
Mr Moreno said: “The most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when Wikileaks leaked Vatican documents.
“This and other publications have confirmed the world’s suspicion that Mr Assange is still linked to WikiLeaks and therefore involved in interfering in internal affairs of other states.”
His accusations against Assange also included blocking security cameras at the embassy, accessing security files and confronting guards.
Mr Moreno said the British government had confirmed in writing that Assange “would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty”.
The arrest comes a day after Wikileaks said it had uncovered an extensive spying operation against its co-founder at the Ecuadorian embassy.
There has been a long-running dispute between the Ecuadorian authorities and Assange about what he was and was not allowed to do in the embassy.
BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said that over the years they had removed his access to the internet and accused him of engaging in political activities – which is not allowed when claiming asylum.
He said: “Precisely what has happened in the embassy is not clear – there has been claim and counter claim.”
How have people reacted?
Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons: “This goes to show that in the UK, no one is above the law.”
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the arrest was the result of “years of careful diplomacy” and that it was “not acceptable” for someone to “escape facing justice”.
Press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders said that the UK should resist extradition, because it would “set a dangerous precedent for journalists, whistleblowers, and other journalistic sources that the US may wish to pursue in the future”.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said he would continue to receive “the usual consular support” and that consular officers will try to visit him.
August 2010 – The Swedish Prosecutor’s Office first issues an arrest warrant for Assange. It says there are two separate allegations – one of rape and one of molestation. Assange says the claims are “without basis”
December 2010 – Assange is arrested in London and bailed at the second attempt
May 2012 – The UK’s Supreme Court rules he should be extradited to Sweden to face questioning over the allegations
June 2012 – Assange enters the Ecuadorean embassy in London
August 2012 – Ecuador grants asylum to Assange, saying there are fears his human rights might be violated if he is extradited
August 2015 – Swedish prosecutors drop their investigation into two allegations – one of sexual molestation and one of unlawful coercion because they have run out of time to question him. But he still faces the more serious accusation of rape.
October 2015 – Metropolitan Police announces that officers will no longer be stationed outside the Ecuadorean embassy
February 2016 – A UN panel rules that Assange has been “arbitrarily detained” by UK and Swedish authorities since 2010
May 2017 – Sweden’s director of public prosecutions announces that the rape investigation into Assange is being dropped
July 2018 – The UK and Ecuador confirm they are holding ongoing talks over the fate of Assange
October 2018 – Assange is given a set of house rules at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. He then launches legal action against the government of Ecuador
December 2018 – Assange’s lawyer rejects an agreement announced by Ecuador’s president to see him leave the Ecuadorean embassy
February 2019 – Australia grants Assange a new passport amid fears Ecuador may bring his asylum to an end
April 2019 – The Metropolitan Police arrests him for “failing to surrender to the court” over a warrant issued in 2012. He is found guilty and faces up to 12 months in prison, as well as extradition over US charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
The FBI has joined the widening criminal probe into how Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets were deemed as safe in the months before two of them crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia, leading to a worldwide grounding of the vaunted planes amid scrutiny of U.S. certification standards.
A person familiar with the inquiry told USA TODAY on Wednesday that the FBI is assisting federal transportation authorities in their investigation into the jet’s certification process, which has come under criticism for possible cozy relationships between Boeing and FAA inspectors.
The two crashes killed more than 300 people since October. Transportation Department officials are leading the investigation into the Federal Aviation Administration approval of the passenger jet, while the FBI is providing needed resources, said the person, who is not authorized to comment publicly.
The FBI’s role in the inquiry was first reported by the Seattle Times.
It’s the latest revelation in the Boeing case, with a federal grand jury also looking into safety approvals for the planes and a key congressional panel scheduled next Wednesday to delve into the Max 8 and aviation safety in general.
Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenburg explains what his company is doing to ensure the safety of passengers after the Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes. USA TODAY
“In light of the recent tragedy in Ethiopia and the subsequent grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, this hearing will examine challenges to the state of commercial aviation safety, including any specific concerns highlighted by recent accidents,” according to a statement from the committee, to be chaired by Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz. “The committee will hear from a panel of government witnesses on ways to improve the safety of the commercial air transportation system”
News of the FBI’s involvement also comes after Wednesday’s decision by Europe and Canada to break with U.S. air-safety regulators. The Europeans and Canadians vow to conduct their own reviews of Boeing’s changes to a key flight-control system, not to simply take the Federal Aviation Administration’s word that the alterations are safe.
Those reviews scramble an ambitious schedule set by Boeing and could undercut the FAA’s reputation around the world. It could also mean a likely delay in the resumption of Max 8 flights around the globe. Hundreds of Max 8s are ground and production of more than 4,000 others have been halted amid safety concerns.
Boeing hopes by Monday to finish its update to critical software that can automatically point the nose of the plane sharply downward in some circumstances to avoid an aerodynamic stall, according to two people briefed on FAA presentations to congressional committees.
The FAA expects to certify Boeing’s modifications and plans for pilot training in April or May, one of the people told the Associated Press. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak about the briefings.
But there are doubts about meeting that timetable. Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1 and suspend some routes that it flew with the plane before it was grounded around the world last week.
American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, which are slightly less dependent on the Max than Air Canada, are juggling their fleets to fill in for grounded planes, but have still canceled some flights.
By international agreement, planes must be certified in the country where they are built. Regulators around the world have almost always accepted that country’s decision.
As a result, European airlines have flown Boeing jets with little independent review by the European Aviation Safety Agency, and U.S. airlines operate Airbus jets without a separate, lengthy certification process by the FAA.
That practice is being frayed, however, in the face of growing questions about the FAA’s certification of the Max. Critics question whether the FAA relied too much on Boeing to vouch for critical safety matters and whether it understood the significance of a new automated flight-control system on the Max.
CONTRIBUTING: Ledyard King, USA TODAY; Associated Press
Sixth-grader arrested in Florida after refusal to participate in Pledge of Allegiance led to confrontation
He was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence.
By Tim Stelloh
A sixth-grader in Florida was arrested after his refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance escalated into a confrontation with police and school officials, authorities said.
The unnamed boy was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence on Feb. 4, the Lakeland Police Department said in a news release.
A local news outlet, Bay News 9, reported that the confrontation began after the student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, near Tampa, called the flag racist and described the national anthem as offensive.
Citing a statement provided to the Polk School District by the boy’s substitute teacher, the station reported that the teacher asked him, “why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live.”
“They brought me here,” the boy replied, according to the statement.
After the teacher told him he could “always go back,” she called the school’s office “because I did not want to continue dealing with him,” the station reported.
The district did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday, but a school spokesman told the Ledger, a local newspaper, that students are not required to participate in the pledge.
The spokesman, Kyle Kennedy, told the newspaper that the teacher, Ana Alvarez, wasn’t aware of that policy and would no longer work with the district.
The boy’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, disputed the school’s claims, telling NBC News that her son “is not a disrespectful kid.”
“What I do know is when she asked my son about it, he responded to her enlightening her on his reasonings,” Talbot said. “It wasn’t just that the flag is racist. I don’t teach my children that the flag is racist.”
After the confrontation began, the school’s dean of students tried unsuccessfully to calm the student down, asking him to leave the class 20 times, police said.
“The school resource officer then intervened and asked the student to exit the classroom and he refused,” the department said. “The student left the classroom and created another disturbance and made threats while he was escorted to the office.”
The Lakeland Police Department said in a statement that the boy was not arrested for refusing to stand for or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. “This arrest was based on the student’s choice to disrupt the classroom, make threats and resisting the officer’s efforts to leave the classroom.”
Talbot denied that her son made any threats and said the school “didn’t handle it the way they should have handled it.”
She told NBC News her son was overwhelmed with the situation, and she transferred him to another school.
“I want my son to know, I don’t care what any other parent say or any other parents do, that I’m going to stand up for him,” Talbot said.
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News, based in California.
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A 20-year-old man in Texas was arrested Saturday and charged in the death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was shot and killed while riding in a car with her family in Houston. Another man is being held in connection with the shooting but has not yet been charged, a lawyer for the girl’s family said.
Eric Black Jr., 20, was charged with capital murder and appeared in court early Sunday morning, wearing handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. He was ordered held without bail. A prosecutor said Black admitted to driving the car when his passenger opened fire.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Barnes family, told CBS News another suspect had also been arrested.
The shooting occured in Houston on Dec. 30 when a car pulled alongside the vehicle carrying Barnes and her family at a stoplight and a gunman opened fire. Jazmine died of a gunshot wound to the head, and her mother was hit in the arm.
LaPorsha Washington, Jazmine’s mother, said in the days following the shooting that she believed it was racially motivated. Her 15-year-old daughter, who was also in the car, initially said the shooter was a white man in a red truck, and police released an artist’s sketch Thursday showing a thin, white man with a 5 o’clock shadow. Black, the alleged driver, is African American. The full name of the alleged gunman is not yet known, but Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Sunday the individual is also African American.
In a press conference Sunday afternoon, Gonzalez said there was indeed a red truck at the stoplight when shots rang out, but said investigators now believe the person or people in the truck were nothing more than witnesses. He urged the unidentified driver of the truck to come forward.
Gonzalez said investigators don’t believe “in any way” that family members were involved in anything “nefarious.” He added that investigators believe two people were involved in the shooting, but would not comment further since Black is the only individual who has been charged.
“We feel that they were truthful. This just went down very quickly when the gunfire erupted,” Gonzalez said. “You’re talking about small children — they witnessed something very traumatic. And it is possible that the last thing they did see was indeed that red truck and that driver that was in that truck, and that’s what they remembered last.”
Earlier Sunday, a prosecutor presented details of the case against Black at a hearing at Probable Cause Court in downtown Houston. Appearing by video conference, the prosecutor said Gonzalez had received an anonymous tip passed along by journalist and activist Shaun King. The source implicated two men identified as “LW” and “EB” in the shooting after authorities asked the public for help identifying the assailants.
The source for the tip said the suspects thought the vehicle carrying Jazmine was another vehicle they had seen earlier in the day, the prosecutor said, and didn’t realize they had hit the wrong vehicle until seeing the news later that day.
The source provided the sheriff with the name of an Instagram account used by one of the suspects, which investigators determined belonged to Black, the prosecutor said.
On Saturday, police stopped Black in a grey Kia for failing to signal when changing lanes, and held him for suspected marijuana possession after a deputy said he saw a plastic bag with what appeared to be marijuana in his glove box when Black opened it to find his insurance card. The officer searched Black’s car, found more marijuana and detained him, the prosecutor said.
Homicide detectives interviewed Black on Saturday, and the prosecutor said Black admitted to driving the vehicle involved in the shooting. Black told investigators “LW” — identified in court only as “Larry” — was seated in the front passenger seat of a rental car and fired at the vehicle carrying Jazmine. Black returned that rental car after the shooting and picked up the car he was driving when he was pulled over Saturday.
The prosecutor said in Sunday’s hearing that Black then agreed to a search of his residence, where police found a 9 mm pistol consistent with shell casings found at the site of the shooting.
Gonzales, the sheriff, said Sunday that police had received more than 1,000 tips in the case. A reward of $100,000 had been offered for information leading to an arrest. At a rally in Houston on Saturday, more than 500 people honored Jazmine and helped raise money for the family.
Zachary Hudak contributed reporting.
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An NYU think tank is high on fixing the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
A new report out Wednesday by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management urges the statewide legalization of recreational marijuana — in order to get more green into mass transit.
“No new revenue source can match a tax on weed, ” Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center, asserted to The Post. “New Yorkers deserve a subway system that is as productive as they are. It is time for New York to legalize and tax cannabis — and to designate the revenues for mass transit.”
A potential tax imposed on marijuana — if pot becomes legalized in New York — “would provide a way for the MTA to address many of their operating and capital requirements,” the center said.
Marijuana is currently legal for adult recreational use in 10 states, plus Washington, DC.
The report, citing BDS Analytics — a leading source for cannabis industry data — says the legal pot industry in North America reached $9.2 billion in 2017 and “is projected to generate $47.3 billion over the next decade.”
“This report argues that the subways need a dedicated revenue source with the potential for growth in future decades — one that does not divert funds from other public services, and that has yet to be tapped by the state and local government,” the paper reads.
Several states, including Colorado, Washington and Oregon, have already reported “higher-than-expected tax revenues” from the legalization of marijuana, the report notes
The state Health Department has already backed the legalization of recreational cannabis.
In July, the department released a report saying that legal marijuana sales could generate between $248.1 million and $677.7 million in revenue for the state in the first year alone.
Let’s assume a worst-case scenario: Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker straight-up fires special counsel Robert Mueller — no half-measures of refusing to allow Mueller to take certain investigative steps, or drastically cutting Mueller’s budget to starve his Russia investigation of resources, but a flat out “You’re fired!”
If that were to happen before Democrats take control of the House in 2019, no congressional committee is likely to subpoena Mueller to testify to his findings or the evidence he has obtained. Until January, the Republican majority will continue to stand behind President Trump. So what could Mueller do to disclose his investigation in the absence of receiving a congressional subpoena to testify or hand over his findings? And what would he choose to do — assuming he believed the president has committed wrongdoing the public should know about?
Taking the second question first, Mueller may choose to do absolutely nothing. We know that Mueller is a military man; he follows orders. And his marching orders as special counsel, pursuant to the governing regulations, are to conduct relevant investigations, bring appropriate charges, and write a confidential report for the Department of Justice (DOJ). So, once the job is done, by firing or otherwise, it wouldn’t be out of character for Mueller to simply go quietly off into the sunset. To date, he has kept an extremely low profile. He doesn’t even show up in court when his cases are brought, and the leak-proof nature of the ship he captains is the stuff of legend.
But let’s assume for a moment that Mueller instead goes the way of former FBI Director James Comey and is more than willing, upon an unceremonious firing, to present his side of the story to the public in any way he’s asked to do so. Or that (perhaps more likely) Mueller reluctantly concludes, upon his firing, that we have reached a point of constitutional crisis requiring the immediate publicizing of the president’s misdeeds because the DOJ under Whitaker is not acting in the best interests of the country. What would Mueller’s options be for disclosing currently non-public evidence and conclusions of his investigation without a subpoena from Congress?
The special counsel regulation, 28 CFR 600 et seq., requires the special counsel to write a report at the conclusion of his work, explaining his prosecution and declination decisions. It also states that the attorney general can publicly release the report, if that is in the public interest, to the extent that release complies with applicable legal restrictions. And there’s the rub — Whitaker would be hard-pressed to explain how Mueller’s report being released is not a matter of massive public interest, but he could fall back on secrecy rules of the grand jury to argue that grand jury materials disclosed in the report should not be released, resulting in the continued secrecy of most or all of the report.
Federal grand jury rules, which apply to Mueller as special counsel, are strict. Generally speaking, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), a government lawyer cannot disclose proceedings before, or evidence gathered by, the authority of the grand jury, even after the lawyer leaves government service. Exceptions are limited. One exception states that a government lawyer can disclose material or testimony gained under a grand jury subpoena to local or state lawyers, for the purpose of assisting in the prosecution of a federal criminal law violation.
Prosecutors use this provision to share information when conducting an investigation in conjunction with a district attorney’s office, or a state attorney general’s office, for example. Without question, Mueller has been in communications with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and could share information with them under this exception of Rule 6(e), although this would not be a public disclosure on Mueller’s part. It is also possible that additional pieces of the Mueller investigation could make their way to the Southern District of New York or another U.S. attorney’s office and, ultimately, could come to light through charges that way.
Of course, much evidence is not subject to Rule 6(e). Witness statements, for example, given to agents or prosecutors do not fall under the rule’s protections. Documents provided voluntarily to the special counsel’s office, instead of being provided pursuant to subpoena, likewise can be discussed publicly. And, of course, anything disclosed publicly through the criminal processes that have played out in cases the special counsel has charged, is fair game.
Finally, Mueller’s conclusions about crimes committed, as opposed to descriptions of the underlying evidence itself, aren’t prohibited from disclosure under Rule 6(e), although he would have to be careful about violating DOJ guidelines for discussing criminal subjects and proceedings, even with a subpoena.
In short, if Mueller were fired tomorrow, he would be very limited in what he could say about his investigation — and that indeed may be the impetus for the president’s action in firing Jeff Sessions and replacing him with a man who appears, by most accounts, to be a Trump loyalist. We would all have to wait for what certainly would be the world’s most anticipated congressional subpoena.
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During a House Rules Committee debate in January, the chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), was blunt. “I, as probably everybody in this rooms knows, have a strong opinion on drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol,” Sessions said while members argued over an amendment that would protect states with legal cannabis from federal interference. “Marijuana is an addictive product, and the merchants of addiction make it that way. They make it for addiction. They make it to where our people, our young people, become addicted to marijuana and keep going.”
While mostly false—marijuana has been shown to be mildly addictive, but many patients rely on it as a medicine to treat chronic pain and other ailments—it was a pretty typical statement from the congressman. Having served more than two decadesin the House, Sessions had become a powerful, if not the most influential, opponent of marijuana on the Hill, halting dozens of measures related to legalization. But on Tuesday, he lost, and lost pretty big—by more than 6 points—to his Democratic challenger, civil rights attorney Colin Allred, to represent Texas’ 32nd District.
In addition to losing Pete Sessions, Washington rid itself of the other Sessions last week—now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions (no relation)—and with that, two of the biggest roadblocks to legalizing marijuana are finally gone, boosted by a blue wave that took the House and, in turn, created a more friendly environment for marijuana. Now, advocates are planning their attack.
With Democrats in control of the House, “the debate we’re going to have is not should we legalize, but how we’ll legalize marijuana,” an optimistic Michael Collins, interim director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, tells Mother Jones. “We’re closer than we’ve ever been.”
Already, 33 states have medical marijuana laws on the books, 10 allow adult recreational cannabis use, and 66 percent of the country supports legalizing marijuana, according to an October Gallup poll, including more than half of Republicans.
“Marijuana law reform is not a ‘red’ or ‘blue’ issue, it is a nonpartisan position favored by most Americans, including those residing in the heartland of America,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of marijuana advocacy group NORML, tells Mother Jones.
Even still, Congress has failed to pass any meaningful marijuana legislation in the past few years, and in the House, that was in large part due to Rep. Sessions. In a blog post on Election Day, NORML political director Justin Strekal called Sessions the “single greatest impediment” in the chamber to the passage of “common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures.” According to analysis by Tom Angell at Marijuana Moment, a cannabis news site, the House Rules Committee has blocked marijuana law reform proposals in at least 34 instances just in this congressional session, which began January 2017. During his career as rules committee chair, beginning in 2013, Sessions thwarted amendments that would have expanded research on medical marijuana, allowed Native American tribes to participate in the cannabis industry, and enabled the federal government to tax marijuana sales, among other proposals, according to Angell.
“[Sessions] made it clear from day one of his House tenure that no marijuana amendments would be heard on the House floor,” Armentano says. “He kept that promise.”
Another key marijuana opponent, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), is also retiringin January. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte controlled the fate of bills relating to criminal justice. He blocked severalpieces of cannabis legislation during his tenure, including the 2018 STATES Act, which would have officially protected states with marijuana laws from federal punishment, and was supported by President Donald Trump. (The president has actually voiced support for states’ right to regulate cannabis independently.)
Replacing this old guard will be more than two dozen cannabis-friendly candidates who won their races, including Allred. “I support the use of medical marijuana as an alternative to the habit-forming opioids that have become a national crisis,” Allred told Politico in March. “This common-sense approach to alternative treatments has been opposed by Pete Sessions, and is something I will fight to expand.” In Virginia’s 6th District, Goodlatte will be succeeded by Republican Ben Cline, who has sponsored and passed progressive marijuana legislation in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Advocates say they are eager to work with these members to pass any and all legislation they can. Some of their biggest goals include securing access to marijuana for veterans, allowing banks to accept money from state-legal cannabis businesses, and de-scheduling weed from its Schedule 1 status (the same category as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy), Armentano says.
“We’ve taken out a big opponent of marijuana and the House has flipped,” Collins adds. “There’s a world of possibilities out there for marijuana reform.”
And with Attorney General Sessions out, advocates are hopeful Trump’s new appointee will recognize where the public stands on marijuana and be open to the possibility of reform. “Sessions, no doubt about it, was a disaster on drug policy,” says Collins. “[He had] very regressive positions on marijuana legalization, sentencing, and the opioid epidemic, and we’re glad to see the back of him.”
Boosting advocates’ hopes even further, Election Day saw plenty of other victories for marijuana. Michigan approved recreational cannabis, while Missouri and Utah—both red states—passed ballot measures that will legalize medical marijuana. (Though, as I recently wrote, Utah lawmakers and backers of the ballot measure, under rather unique circumstances, agreed to pass a “compromise” bill ahead of the election no matter the outcome of the vote.)And in Florida, voters passed Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to up to 1.4 million disenfranchised felons in the state, including tens of thousands convicted of marijuana-related offenses, according to NORML.
Of course, there are still plenty hurdles left to jump—the Senate and White House are still under Republican control, and there’s nothing to indicate a new attorney general will actually be more friendly to legalization—but advocates again emphasize that cannabis legalization isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a partisan issue, especially because Trump has supported states making their own decisions about weed.
But either way, advocates are doing their best to ensure that opposing legalization isn’t a winning strategy. “Opposition on this issue—you’re on the wrong side of history,” Collins says. “There’s a train coming in your direction, and it’s best to get on board.”
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Republicans Are Only For White Males: Democrats For Everyone Except White Males?
For those who are reading this article and are unaware of it, I am a 62-year-old white man who lives in the state of Kentucky, I also am a registered Independent when it comes to politics. So, this article to you today is simply my opinion, nothing more, nothing less. A person comes to their opinions mostly through life’s experiences and I am simply giving you mine at this time. In my life I have voted for several Republicans and for several Democrats as well as for people from various Independent movements. I like some of the things that each of the two main Parties stand for, at least on paper, and I am against several things that each of those Parties stand behind.
During my years I have come across racism from several people. I have been hated on sight because I am a white man and I absolutely have no doubt about that statement, yet I have also had people of many races stand up for me and against people of their own race because of me. Being one skin color of another should have nothing to do with how you act or are viewed, yet often, it does. I have to admit that I have been a bit surprised by the amount of racism some White folks who have shown since the Electoral College elected Donald Trump as our President, and it does sadden me. I try to be a devout Christian everyday of my life (though I fail often) but I am sure that G-d The Father and G-d The Son are not racists. I am 100% sure that if a person hates another because of their skin color, they are not a Christian, they are nothing but “luke warm water,” at best.
When former President Obama was the President from 2009-2017 I used to often hear about the “angry White Males.” Honestly I did not know just how many and how deep this hatred is and it greatly saddens me as a person and as a Christian. Often I heard this philosophy and when I did it always seemed to generate from GOP affiliated mouth pieces. I know that there is racism all over the world it is not something that is exclusive to North America Americans, nor only to some Republicans. Obviously about 50% of white folks are women and it is my belief that many White Women who voted for Mr. Trump will either not vote in the midterm election next Tuesday, or they will vote against the GOP because they have seen the hate coming out of the mouth of Mr. Trump and many other GOP Politicians since they took total power in January of 2017.
Unfortunately it appears that many people and Politicians who are Democrats and Democratic mouth pieces have seemed to be hating the White Males for many years. Too me, it has seemed that the leadership of the Democratic Party has for many years been working hard at becoming the party of ‘only’ the minorities. Too me, it has felt that the Democratic Leadership has worked hard to be inclusive to all people, except White People, especially the men. Our Nation, or any Nation, cannot survive if its core is poisoned and all racism is poison. I have heard this quote several times during my years and it is true that “great Nations are not usually conquered from the outside, they are conquered from the inside” and I do believe that is true of America also.
There are two main reasons that I have ever voted for a Republican and against a Democrat and neither have anything to do with race, nationality, or someone’s religion. These two issues are Abortion and Gun laws, as a Christian I cannot and will not condone what I believe to be blatant murder of babies. Regarding guns, I am for a 3-5 day waiting period when purchasing a firearm and I do believe that the loophole of Gun Shows needs to be closed. But I do believe in everyone has the right to defend themselves and their families by any means necessary. Here in Kentucky almost all people can open carry without a special permit and folks like myself who have taken weapons classes can conceal carry. When I do go into a business with a weapon in a gun belt no one has ever freaked out, not other customers or the workers, not even the workers at the cash registers. I know that these people look at this issue the same as I do, if anything, I am extra free security for the business I am in. Folks something that the Democratic Party does not seem to understand or even care about is why almost all people should be allowed to have firearms if they so choose and that is defense, not offense. People need to notice that gunmen go to places to shoot people where they know there will be no guns to shoot back at them, these people are cowards. When was the last time you saw a Police Station or a Donut Shop shot up? Folks, the times are coming where the people have to be able to defend themselves from crooked government officials and crooked policing agencies. The time is coming where the people need to be able to defend themselves from invasions from other Nations and the time is very close where we all need to be able to defend ourselves from terrorists, homegrown and otherwise. Well, that is all for now friends, I hope that you are able to enjoy your weekend, stay warm, stay safe, G-d’s blessings I wish to all of you.
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