Illinois gov signs opioid alternative bill, improvements to medical cannabis program

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MPP BLOG)

 

MPP Blog


Illinois governor signs opioid alternative bill, making huge improvements to medical cannabis program

Posted: 28 Aug 2018 12:28 PM PDT

Sweeping changes include medical cannabis access for opioid patients, streamlined process, and others

Illinois’s medical cannabis program took a major step forward today as Gov. Bruce Rauner signed bill SB 336, the Alternatives to Opioids Act, into law.

This historic change makes several key improvements:

• Opioid patients now qualify. Patients who are — or could be — prescribed opioid drugs will be able to register to obtain medical cannabis as an alternative.

• Shorter wait times. Patients will get provisional authorization to access medical cannabis as soon as their paperwork is submitted for registration — saving weeks of wait time.

• No more fingerprint requirement! Patients and caregivers will no longer be required to submit fingerprints to register for the program, and those with felony convictions in their past will no longer be denied access to the program.

Many thanks go to bill sponsors Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and the many medical cannabis patients and supporters who worked to pass this major improvement to state law. The full text of the measure is here.

In other news, if you are in the neighborhood, the public is invited to tonight’s town hall on cannabis legalization for adults in La Grange, Illinois.

When: Tuesday, August 28 7:00 p.m.

Where: La Grange Village Hall Auditorium, 53 S. La Grange Road, La Grange, Illinois

Who: Bill sponsor Sen. Heather Steans, Rep. Jim Durkin, and several other panelists

Another big win for medical cannabis patients today — please spread the word! And if you can, come to tonight’s town hall and support a sensible legalization law in Illinois!

The post Illinois governor signs opioid alternative bill, making huge improvements to medical cannabis program appeared first on MPP Blog.

  

Trump Says He Will Probably Support Marijuana Legalization Bill

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE)

 

Trump Defies Sessions by Saying He Will ‘Probably’ Support Marijuana Bill

The president appears to be joining a group of lawmakers pushing back on the attorney general’s marijuana policy

Could Trump really support a bill that would end federal marijuana prohibition? Evan Vucci/AP/REX Shutterstock

Before heading on a trip abroad that will take him to the G-7 summit in Canada on Friday, and then to Singapore to meet with Kim Jong-un early next Tuesday, President Trump hinted that he is likely to support a bill introduced Thursday that would protect state marijuana laws from federal interference. “I really do,” Trump said when asked outside the White House on Friday whether supports the bill, which was co-authored by Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado. “I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting it, yes.”

Though over half of all states have passed some form of legislation legalizing marijuana, the drug is still illegal under federal law, which classifies it as a Schedule I narcotic along with heroin, LSD and other drugs the government deem to have “no currently accepted medical use.” Marijuana business is growing rapidly in states where it is legal, but federal restrictions have led to a number of complications. Most banks, for instance, refuse to have relationships with marijuana-related companies, for fear prosecution from federal law enforcement.

“There are federal laws about not being able to put your money into banks if the money comes from illegal activities,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, who co-authored the bill with Gardner, explained Thursday morning on MSNBC. “So long as the sale of marijuana is illegal at the federal level, that means that marijuana stores that are perfectly legal in Colorado or Massachusetts or other states have to do an all-cash business. It’s dangerous and it’s dumb.”

The STATES – or Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States – Act would remove marijuana from the federal schedule of controlled substances in states where it is legal, and allow financial institutions to deal with marijuana businesses as long as those business are legal under state law. The Tenth Amendment reserves that states are in control of all “powers” not outlined in the Constitution. “Our founders intended the states to be laboratories of democracy and many states right now find themselves deep in the heart of that laboratory, but its created significant conflict between state law [and] federal law,” Gardner said alongside Warren as they introduced the bill on Thursday.

Though the bill would largely strip away federal influence from how states are able to enforce their marijuana laws, there are a few caveats. The bill holds that employees of marijuana businesses must be 18 years or older, and that recreational marijuana may only be sold to people 21 and over. It also stipulates that dispensaries may not be set up at rest stops along interstate highways.

Though the president has in the past voiced a desire to leave marijuana legalization up to the states, many have wondered if this latest expression of support may be a result of his intensifying feud with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who is a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization and has used his position as the government’s chief legal authority to crack down on convictions related to the drug. In January, Sessions put an end to an Obama administration policy that limited the degree to which federal authorities could enforce marijuana law in states where the drug was legal. Gardner, whose home state of Colorado has legalized recreational use of marijuana, criticized the move immediately.

Cory Gardner

@SenCoryGardner

This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.

Cory Gardner

@SenCoryGardner

I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.

Gardner isn’t the only lawmaker pushing back against Sessions’s draconian stance on the drug, and those supporting reform have stressed the bipartisan nature of their efforts. In April, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and California Democrat Kamala Harris wrote a letter to the attorney general asking him to cease blocking research in to marijuana’s medicinal properties. As Gardner and Warren introduced the STATES bill on Friday, Representatives Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, and David Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, introduced a companion bill in the House. At a news conference Thursday, Warren said, “lining them up like Noah’s Ark as they come on two-by-two,” in reference to her and Gardner’s desire to match each of the bill’s co-sponsors with one from the other party.

Despite the attorney general’s vigilant opposition to any form of legalized pot Gardner has said he’s received multiple assurances from President Trump that he would support a bill giving power back to the states, and the president’s comments Friday morning reinforce the belief that he will ultimately endorse the bill. Trump has in recent months made good on several controversial campaign promises, including removing American from the Iran deal and relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Marijuana reform could soon be added to the list.

“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” Trump told the Washington Post while campaigning back in 2015. “Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen – right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”

(Humor Poem) You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me George And Bill

You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me George And Bill

 

You picked a fine time to leave me George and Bill

I got 40 acres of weed ready and waiting to be cycled

We still got eight big orders we gotta work to get filled

Got the eight ton for Willie and twenty ton more

That gotta git to Uncle Hillary and Aunt Billie to fill

 

I find you here at the Pink Feather drinking together

Under the next table I see Donald and Mikie romancing

Laid out on the dance floor twenty Republican Senators

This happens when they drink Jim Bean and Mr. Collins together

Guess love of liquor is why they don’t admit to sucking on weed

 

Without you George and Bill I got real big problems with those orders to fill

Two ATF Agents swinging in the basement, but what of their replacements

What if they won’t be bribed with Pink Teddie’s and a ton of medicinal Red Hair

Do I hang them in the closets with the Priests who brought their boy toys to preach

George and Bill, you can play righteous once we get this years crop out of the field

 

 

 

Marijuana Is Not A Gateway Drug Up: It Is A Step Down Drug Though

Marijuana Is Not A Gateway Drug Up: It Is A Step Down Drug Though

The first time that I ever tried smoking Marijuana (Pot) was in the High School parking lot the year I turned 17, that was 1973. As I learned through the years the Pot I tried was Norther Illinois Homegrown and was basically worthless as far as getting a buzz (high) from it. Back then you could buy a five-finger bag for $15 but I thought it to be a waste of 15 hard-earned dollars. I am now 62 years old so I have been around Marijuana for 45 years now so yes, I do have some opinions that I would like to share with you about what I think and believe about this God-given plant. The next time I tried Pot I was 23 years old and living in Houston Texas. I have never really been a drinker of alcohol nor a user of hard drugs and I have never once stuck or been stuck with a needle with street drugs in it, I have never had such a desire to do so. The far right (wrong) media has been talking trash about Pot at least since about 1988 saying it is a ‘gateway drug” that gets people to go into doing “hard” drugs like Crack, Pills and Heroine. Folks, my life’s experiences have shown me that Pot being a “gateway drug” is a bunch of lies (BS).

 

Folks, I have known people who have smoked Pot their whole adult lives who have never gone onto harder drugs and that includes alcohol. I have known people in several professions who liked to smoke Pot in the evenings when they got home from work to help relax from the stress of their day and who would smoke it on the weekends for the relaxation of it. These people I speak of are my age and older who are now retired from their jobs. These people were/are inner twined into the fabric of our economy. They bought and paid off homes, cars, boats, and raised families. None of these people who I know ever did anything to get into trouble with the law, they weren’t/aren’t robbers, murderers or violent people. Many millions of people believe that this is a God-given plant that is given to the people for many health benefits and believe that no man, no government has any right to refuse it to the people.  President Obama as well as this idiot we have in the Oval Office now say that Marijuana should stay in the class one category of drugs because it has no medical value and this is what the DEA also spouts as truth. I know that these are educated people (at least Mr. Obama is) but if they believe this they would have to be both ignorant and stupid. The only reason that these people would say something so stupid is if big money is involved, and you know it is. So, is it stupidity, ignorance or just plain crooked. Personally I have to go with the big money, thus the crooked concept.

 

I am a service connected disabled Veteran from active duty Army service. I was only in for seven months because in the second month I was struck by lightning during a training exercise. The VA has in the past loaded me up with pain killers which do almost nothing for the nerve pain so I had them stop them about 4 years ago as I have no desire to walk around like a Zombie. The only thing that I have found that helps is if/when I can find some good quality Pot. The Pot does not cure the issues but then again, neither do the pills. The Pot works like a block on the nerve pain, the pain is still there but it does not let the pain signals go from (A to B) SO IT STOPS THE PAIN SIGNAL FROM GOING TO THE BRAIN. About two years ago the Senators and Congressmen who were on the committee over seeing the budget for the VA at the last-minute took the provision to okay medical Marijuana out of the VA funding bill. These disgusting people should all be fired this November!

 

In my life I have seen many cases where people who used to smoke Pot but had to quit because of laws about pre employment and random drug test at their employers, if I remember correctly this kicked into high gear in about 1988. If you are old enough to remember this is about when our Federal Government started their so call ‘war on drugs’. This ignorance, the way they have gone about things have cost many thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars that could have gone into the economy instead. For many people when they had to quit smoking Pot because it stays traceable in your system for about 30 days they then started drinking or just drinking more than they ever had. Also for many people who still wanted a ‘high’ when they had to quit smoking Pot turned to things like Cocaine, Crack, Heroine, and Pills because these things only stay in a person’s system about three days. So in essence, the Government has increased drug usage with their ‘war on drugs’. Check the stats, in states where Marijuana is now legal drug overdoses have gone down, Pill usage has gone down because people would rather have the mellow high that Pot gives and a fact is, no one has ever died from an overdose of Marijuana. If states would all legalize real Marijuana this new product called K-2 would disappear. It seems like every week we are hearing of people having to go to the hospital because of the chemical effects of this synthetic version of Pot. Just yesterday it was on the news that 10 people in Austin Texas were sent to the hospital because of it.

 

There is only one thing that comes to mind for the reason that Marijuana is not legalized and that is there is very big money flowing into D.C. politicians to keep it illegal. Remember what I said about the VA? If Marijuana became legal and the VA was able to dispense it the drug companies would lose billions of dollars each year because there would be no need or reason to take their chemicals. This would also save the VA and the tax payers billions of dollars each year, this is money that could be going into the economy instead of CEO’s pockets. The U.S. ‘war on drugs’ has in fact created drug traffickers and cartels. This ignorance has created revenue for street gangs here in the States. How many lives have been taken by these gangs from South America and Mexico to Los Angeles to Chicago to New York to small towns all over the U.S.? Marijuana being illegal has helped fuel other much more dangerous drugs and gang warfare on our city streets! How many police have lost their lives in this war? I don’t know that answer but even one Officer losing their life over the bought and paid for politicians and their hypocrisy is just plain evil. There is also the reality that many policing agencies go after the people with small amounts of Pot for the purpose of stealing people’s personal property like their homes, cars, land and bank accounts. It is safer and more profitable to go after these people who are much more mellow type of folks. The exception would be when the police are trying to arrest some of the Pot dealers, some times some of these folks will have guns or big dogs to worry about. There is also the concept of the Prison Industry which cost the public billions of dollars to arrest, convict and house/jail Pot smokers each year. Some States cry about over crowded prisons and want to have more jails and prisons built. The remedy to this problem is simple, free the people you have in the prisons who are there for simple possession of Pot. This would free up many cells in which to put the violent offenders! Also there is the problem of our Court system being so backed up with people charged with simple possession that it takes ridiculous amounts of time to adjudicate the cases of the violent criminals that our local jails are over-flowing. One last thought, the U.S. has more people in Prisons than any nation on Earth, more than Iran, Russia, China or even North Korea. The remedy to all these ill’s is simple, make Marijuana legal, every thing about this issue is a win win for our Country and our people.

Heroin: What The Hell Are We Doing To Yourselves Folks?

Heroin: What The Hell Are We Doing To Yourselves Folks?

 

For those of you who do not know me from this blog I will tell you up front that what I am going to say if from my life’s experiences now being over 60 years old. I have never stuck a needle in myself for the purpose of getting some kind of a high, or even to decrease my own pain. I have had medical people do their thing quite a few times where I felt like a wore out pin-cushion before I got out of their care, but I have never stuck myself. I really hope that I do not end up needing Insulin shots someday. But, I have had quite a few folks whom I quickly found out where poking needles in themselves when they would get home from work or on the weekends for the purpose of getting a high was part of their normal day. As I set and watched quite a few people poking themselves or having their friends do it for them and putting them in very painful places, I had to wonder how, how and why they are where they are at this point in their lives? We hear on the news quite often now how Heroin is a major epidemic in many places in America today. I did not know until about a year ago that heroin is actually a very cheep costing drug, I had always though it would be a very expensive drug until I found out it is made from Morphine.

 

For those of you who have decided to first put a needle in yourself, I’m not talking about the first time you let someone else do it to/for you, I’m asking about the first time you yourself stuck a needle in yourself for the purpose of getting high, was it that? Was it in an attempt to get out of some type of pain, mental or physical? If there are ten million people in America alone that put that first drug, that first needle, in our-self, by our-self, are there ten million different stories? Stories of loss, of pain, of stupidity? In the ‘wired world’ about everyone has to have heard a lot of really bad things about this drug getting a power over you that you can no longer control so why? Why did you do that to yourself? All of the people who I knew way back then are gone now, old memories, I don’t know of any that made it anywhere near fifty. I have seen a few cases where people gradually got off of the drugs they were shooting up by turning more and more to the use of marijuana to calm themselves and start to see the world clearer and got themselves off of their own personal demon. I have learned and seen that marijuana is really a ‘step down drug’ that does help some folks, this ‘medication’ being illegal is insane and inhumane. There is another absolute fact and that is where Marijuana is a legal drug, pain pill use goes way down. Heroin or Morphine pills or how about the God-given medicine instead of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on these pills, and then there is this Demon called Heroin that is killing so many people. The ‘War On Drugs’ got this part backwards folks. Drugs like Heroin are a disease on the human race as are these millions of ‘Pill Heads’ that the system is helping fan the flames of.

Brooking’s Institute looks at the human side of medical cannabis policy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE)

 

FIXGOV

In a new documentary short, Brooking’s looks at the human side of medical cannabis policy

John Hudak and George Burroughs

Medical cannabis is an increasingly available, alternative medicine that tens of thousands of Americans are turning to in an effort to get relief from their symptoms. Jennifer Collins is one such patient. On Wednesday, Brookings released “The Life She Deserves,” a documentary short profiling Jennifer’s struggle with an epilepsy disorder and with the public policies that have stood between her and the medical intervention her doctors recommended. In Brookings’s first use of this medium, the film tells both a personal and a policy story, highlighting the human side of a public policy failure.

Jennifer’s Story

At a young age, Jennifer was diagnosed with Jeavons Syndrome, an epilepsy disorder characterized by frequent seizures that often present as a fluttering of the eyes. During these seizures, Jennifer loses awareness of her surroundings. Those smaller seizures—which can number in the hundreds per day—can also cluster into a more serious and dangerous grand mal seizure, of which Jennifer has suffered many.

With the diagnosis, Jennifer’s doctors began a standard pharmaceutical regimen that ultimately culminated in more than a dozen pills daily and maximum adult doses of powerful anti-seizure medications. Those medicines came with side effects that included mania and suicidal ideation. Ultimately, pharmaceuticals were unable to help with Jennifer’s seizures and the side effects became overwhelming. Desperate for a solution, Jennifer’s parents read online about children moving to Colorado to access non-intoxicating, cannabis-based medicines to treat conditions like hers.

“The Life She Deserves” profiles the difficult choices the Collins family faced and explores what many patients and families sacrifice in order to get medical relief. Whether it is for a child with epilepsy, a young woman battling breast cancer, an Iraq War veteran with PTSD, or an elderly woman with chronic arthritis, accessing medical cannabis often requires weighing steep costs against the benefits.

Jennifer is a unique individual who has bravely fought both a chronic condition and a dysfunctional public policy system from a young age. Her story tells us as much about a strong young woman from Virginia facing a significant, ongoing health challenge as it does about a system of laws in which federal policy contradicts both itself and numerous state laws. Her story is one that is relatable to patients and the family members, friends, and colleagues of patients who see what Jennifer and her family have seen: cannabis-based medicines can provide relief in some patients. However, Jennifer’s story is not a unique one.

“The Life She Deserves” shows the overwhelming challenges that government can pose when it comes between doctors and patients, researchers and science. The film also highlights what has become a new normal in this country: the medical cannabis industry. Cannabis growers and sellers are not a group of sinister drug peddlers, operating in the shadows. The film highlights how a husband-wife duo responsibly cultivate cannabis in a heavily regulated system. And the seller is a rabbi who, inspired by his father-in-law’s decades-long battle with MS, opened a family business where he dispenses cannabis to a wide variety of patients—just a stone’s throw from the same institutions of government that label him a narco-trafficker.

Remarkably, in 2018, the idea of medical cannabis has become normal and mainstream. But as we explore in “The Life She Deserves,” the health challenges that draw people to it are devastating and the failure to implement effective policies forces them to make major sacrifices in order to access treatment they need.

A new format for Brookings analysis

It was clear that Brookings needed to explore a new medium beyond the white paper in order to peel back the stigma that continually cloaks medical cannabis. By producing a documentary, we were able to sit across the kitchen table from Beth and Pat Collins, at their home as they shared their difficult journey. We learned what the viewers of this film quickly learn: they’re just two parents who want to give their daughter a normal life. Because of this medium’s ability to create intimacy, the viewer gets see how government policy and the human experience collide to tell a compelling story. And Brookings is in a unique position for storytelling. The institution delivers in-depth analysis that can be presented with the human experience, positive or negative. What Brookings needed was a vehicle for such work. The documentary is precisely that vehicle.

In addition to home videos of Jen’s childhood and footage of Beth Collins testifying at the state legislature, maybe the most poignant moments in the film are of silence. In “The Life She Deserves” Jen reflects on the long road she’s traveled and where she is headed. When she pauses to collect her thoughts, in that silence we can see the severity of what she has been through—an emotion that words could not capture. At that moment we get a rigorously honest look at the pain she has experienced and the strength and courage it took to survive and talk about it. This is the power of storytelling and this is the power of the documentary. We live in a time when many in our country—on both sides of the aisle—see many areas of public policy as broken. Like Jen, millions of Americans feel the effects of those policy failures every day. The opportunity for effective policy storytelling has never been greater, and at Brookings we’re looking forward to telling many more.

Medical Cannabis: A Broken Policy

Authors

To those familiar with the world of medical cannabis, it is no secret that public policy in this area is broken. We have written extensively at Brookings about the numerous policy problems including banking, taxes, interstate access, and others. “The Life She Deserves” focuses on some of the most glaring issues facing patients themselves—an often-overlooked area. And the main issue that impacts patients, even more than access, is how little is known about how to maximize the benefits of cannabis to treat different conditions effectively. The U.S. government has made expanding that knowledge extraordinarily difficult.

Beyond the U.S. government declaring that the cannabis is illegal, federal policy also adds layers of bureaucracy that make research into the medical value of cannabis much harder. In fact, researching cannabis is more bureaucratically challenging than researching any other substance designated Schedule I—the nation’s highest level of drug control.

There is no excuse for a government that makes research more difficult to conduct. Those efforts are anti-science and ensure that politics influences the pursuit of scientific answers. Compounding the problem is that as more states pass reforms that label cannabis as medicine, there is increased demand for answers about the substance’s medical value. There is an ever-present and growing need to ask more questions about cannabis, not fewer. As more patients use this substance in an effort to relieve symptoms, the federal government should be committed to helping understand this area of science.

After all, what could the federal government fear from more research? In fact, no one in the nation—regardless of views on cannabis—should oppose expanded research. As we have written before, if you are an avowed opponent of cannabis and believe it is dangerous, it has no medical value, is highly addicting, and is a gateway drug, you should encourage more research that will demonstrate those findings. Those findings would be a wakeup call to many patients and, more importantly, to policy makers at the state level. For those who support medical cannabis and believe it is a miracle drug that can cure everything from a cough to cancer, you, too, should demand more research to demonstrate not simply medical value, but the precise ways in which cannabis interacts with bodily systems to provide relief and cures. Finally, if you don’t really care about cannabis, the current policy should bother you. Federal government intervention in science should terrify you.

When government impedes researchers from asking the questions they believe are important and conducting research in ways that their expertise and medical literature suggest are critical, the substance should not matter. The principle matters. In a time of an unpopular president, an embarrassingly unpopular Congress, and trust in government at near-historic lows, who should you trust to steer the ship of science: a physician and medical researcher from Michigan or a guy who happens to represent Kalamazoo in Congress?

As Patrick and Beth Collins note in “The Life She Deserves,” one of the biggest challenges facing medical cannabis patients is a lack of understanding about exactly which cannabis-based products assist with which conditions. There is also a deficit of information about dosing, interactions, side effects, and a host of other characteristics that patients are used to knowing about medicines that they take. Part of the blame rests with states moving forward to bring to market cannabis-based medicines without their enduring the normal regulatory processes we expect in the United States. However, much of the blame rests with a federal government that has allowed a racially-motivated, institutionally perpetuated policy overwhelm a commonsense approach that would remove unnecessary bureaucracy from blocking research.

Many patients will tell you that there is no question that cannabis helps them (although there are a number of patients who will also say that it does little for them). The biggest question that remains, however, is whether the federal government will stop politicizing research and help facilitate answers to the questions that patients are demanding.

The human cost of leaving patients and families to fend for themselves is clear, in Jen’s case as we see in “The Life She Deserves,” and in countless other households.

A high for marijuana legalization on 4/20

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

A high for marijuana legalization on 4/20

(CNN)Marijuana in the past was considered taboo in American culture and politics. Just check out the “Saved by the Bell” episode, “No Hope With Dope.”

Over the last 10 years, however, Americans have come to embrace the idea of legal weed.
Late last year, a record 64% of Americans told Gallup that marijuana should be made legal.
That was equal to the percentage who thought same-sex marriage should be legal in Gallup’s 2017 polling. It was more than double the 31% who said marijuana should be legal in 2000. The percentage who thought marijuana should be made legal in 2017 was 52 percentage points higher than the only 12% who favored making marijuana legal when Gallup first asked the question in 1969.
Much like the movement to make same-sex marriage legal, marijuana legalization has started at the state level. You can smoke a joint legally in a number of New England and western states.
A big difference with the same-sex marriage movement, however, is that support for marijuana legalization isn’t just occurring within the Democratic base. Yes, Democrats are more likely to say that people should be able to smoke marijuana legally, but a significant percentage of Republicans feel the same way.
In Gallup’s polling last year, 72% of Democrats thought marijuana should be legal compared to 51% of Republicans. Both of those are more than double the percentage each party’s base felt about marijuana legalization just 15 years ago.
Indeed, marijuana legalization hasn’t just occurred in blue states. Voters in the red state of Alaska and the purple states of Colorado and Maine all have voted to legalize marijuana.
Colorado’s Republican Sen. Cory Gardner blocked Republican President Donald Trump’s Justice Department nominees until Trump promised not to attack Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.
And, in perhaps in the ultimate “whoa” moment, Republican and former House Speaker John Boehner joined the advisory board of a marijuana company. Whether Boehner will actually light up on 4/20 is another question.

Senator Chuck Schumer to Unveil Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana at the Federal Level

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news conference following weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news conference following weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Zach Gibson/Getty Images
By KATIE REILLY

Updated: April 19, 2018 5:39 PM ET

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is planning to introduce a bill on Friday that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, he said in a new interview with VICE News.

“The legislation is long overdue based on, you know, a bunch of different facts. I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long,” Schumer said in a video clip shared by VICE News on Thursday. “Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do. Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?”

Play Video

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Matt House, Schumer’s communications director, said in a tweet that the Senator will unveil the bill on Friday — 4/20, a day that has become a celebration of marijuana. House teased the interview with a photo of Schumer signing a bong for VICE’s Shawna Thomas, who conducted the interview. The full interview will air at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on HBO.

Schumer had previously been hesitant to support legalizing marijuana at the federal level. “It’s a tough issue. We talk about the comparison to alcohol — and obviously alcohol is legal, and I’m hardly a prohibitionist — but it does a lot of damage,” Schumer said in an MSNBC interview in 2014. “The view I have — and I’m a little cautious on this — is let’s see how the state experiments work.”

“I’d be a little cautious here at the federal level and see the laboratories of the states — see their outcomes before we make a decision,” Schumer added.

Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, and six states have followed since then. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has begun to crack down on the marijuana industry this year, angering lawmakers and cannabis growers in states where it is legal.

Schumer hinted Thursday that he has changed his mind on the issue, tweeting, “People can change.”

Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto is Coming

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto is Coming.

Image
Beto O’Rourke at Natachee’s Supper ’n Punch restaurant in Houston.CreditBryan Schutmaat for The New York Times

HOUSTON — Count me among the swelling ranks of the infatuated. I, too, have been Beto-struck.

I have seen the alternative to Ted Cruz — Lord knows we need an alternative to Ted Cruz — and he’s a peppy, rangy, toothy progressive with ratios of folksiness to urbanity and irreverence to earnestness that might well have been cooked up in some political laboratory. Could that formula enable Representative Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat, to wrest Cruz’s seat in the Senate from him in November?

By now you’ve probably heard of Beto — seemingly no one calls him by his surname — and that in and of itself is a marvel. When else has a long-shot Senate candidate with no prior celebrity drawn so much coverage? He has been the subject of lengthy profiles in The Times, The Washington Post, Politico, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, which bestowed upon him the mightiest political adjective of them all: “Kennedyesque.”

He even appeared last month on Bill Maher’s HBO show, generating headlines with his response to Maher’s characterization of Cruz.

“Don’t forget,” Maher said, “he’s a giant asshole.”

“That’s true,” Beto concurred.

It was a naughty swerve from his usual niceness, and over lunch in Houston on Thursday, he told me that he regretted it.

“I think I was just moving the conversation along,” Beto said. “Anyhow, I don’t think that Ted Cruz is an asshole.”

“You don’t?” I asked, incredulous.

“I certainly don’t think that publicly,” he answered.

Cruz is a rare and precious gift. He’s so loathed that any passable Democrat with a picayune chance of toppling him was bound to draw more attention and inspire more hope than the political dynamics warranted. While President Trump’s unpopularity endangers his party’s incumbents far and wide and Texas may indeed be getting bluer, the state has been very red for very long. The last time a Democrat won statewide office was 24 years ago.

But Beto is more than passable. Many of his campaign events are mobbed. People line up for selfies and then insist on hugs.

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Beto O’Rourke at a town hall meeting at the University of Houston on Thursday.CreditBryan Schutmaat for The New York Times

He’s raising money like mad. Last week he disclosed that in the first quarter of 2018 he took in $6.7 million, bringing his total haul to $13.2 million, which handily outpaces Cruz and is more than any Texas Democrat running for the Senate ever amassed. All of that cash came from individuals. He has sworn off money from PACs.

“Even the most skeptical person has to acknowledge that there’s something going on here,” Jim Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, told me. “But is it something that can overcome the deep hole that any Democratic candidate in this state is in?”

Beto’s answer to those odds is an oddball campaign. This has freed him to be freewheeling. He has no speechwriter, because he never speaks from a fixed script. He has no pollster, because he’s not going by polls.

“No political consultant worth their salt would allow us to go to college campuses, because young people don’t vote,” he told a group of Latino leaders during a meeting on Thursday that I accompanied him to. “That’s why we don’t have a political consultant.”

His next event, in fact, was at the University of Houston.

He was driving himself from stop to stop in a rented red Dodge Caravan. There was a banana and bag of nuts beside him; his two campaign aides — the entirety of his traveling entourage — huddled with their smartphones in the back. “Their highest value in the car is cranking on stuff,” he told me. The steering and navigation could be left to him.

His Facebook followers already know this, because he does Facebook Live streams of much of his day, recounting all manner of tedium. Midday Wednesday he filled in followers on an electricity mishap during a convenience-store bathroom break. “I’m in the stall,” he recalled. “The lights are cut. Pitch black. I just freeze.”

On Thursday night, viewers beheld the action-packed minutes of him refueling the Caravan. “Our purchase came to $44.45,” he narrated. “Your contributions literally go into the gas tank.”

In late January, he did a 24-hour Facebook Live beginning with a run with several hundred supporters at dawn and continuing through a chat with all-night street cleaners. (When he had to shower or such, his wife, Amy, kept viewers engaged.)

I asked him why.

“How do I get your attention?” he answered. “You’ve seen politics before. You’ve seen the well-produced ads where I’m holding my wife’s hand and our kids are running down a hillside. You’re sick of that. How do I honor what’s going on now? Politics are changing dramatically. People are really looking for the most transparent, honest, direct way to connect with one another. And we’re going to find it.”

Beto, 45, lives in El Paso, grew up there and has spent most of his life in Texas, apart from college at Columbia University, where he majored in English. He and Amy have three children, ages 7, 9 and 11. He started a small technology company before he served on the El Paso City Council and then in Congress.

That background has somehow given him enough material that whenever a voter asks him a question — about health care or school safety or the treatment of veterans — he’s able to draw on some personal anecdote. After a town hall meeting on Thursday, two of the attendees whom I interviewed separately used the same adjective to praise him: “Relatable.”

He hits so many right notes that it’s eerie. During campaign swings last summer, when school was out, the family camped out at night in state parks. His two youngest kids learned all the words to George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning” before an event in Amarillo, which they opened with an a cappella rendition.

He’s quick to validate voters’ ill will toward federal lawmakers, and he said, during that town hall, that only 9 percent of Americans approve of Congress. “You know that communism has an approval rating of 10 percent,” he added. “Chlamydia is at 8 percent. So Congress is in the sweet spot. But watch out! The chlamydia lobby is working it hard and they are going to move up and surpass Congress soon.”

But he’s also careful to praise his colleagues in the House. “There’s so much talent in the Democratic caucus,” he told me, “from Joaquin Castro to Cheri Bustos to Joe Kennedy to Hakeem Jeffries.” In that one seemingly off-the-cuff sentence, he managed to include a fellow Texan, a storied dynasty, both genders and multiple regions and races.

He talks about fried catfish one second, James Joyce the next. (The older of his two sons is named Ulysses.) He’s fluent in classic punk rock and contemporary country. He’s fluent in Spanish, too.

He’s clear about his beliefs that health care should be guaranteed, marijuana should be legal, Trump should be impeached and the border wall is ridiculous. That puts him to the left of many Texans. But he’s just as voluble about his exhausting effort to visit every county in Texas, including the most staunchly conservative ones, and about the need for people of all political stripes to be respected.

Beto is more than the anti-Cruz. He’s a political fable, holding out the happy if far-fetched possibility that a candidate’s effervescence matters more than a state’s partisan breakdown and that gumption beats any focus group.

“People are watching,” he told his town hall audience. “If we win this race in the right way, I guarantee you, it is going to change politics in the United States going forward.”

I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@FrankBruni) and join me on Facebook.

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A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto is Coming.. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Biggest Opium Pushers In U.S. Are: U.S. Politicians & AG Jeff Sessions

In the United States, we have been hearing a lot about the drugs that are made from this plant over the past few years. I admit to those of you who don’t know me that I am neither a scientist, psychotherapists nor a medical doctor. I am just an average 61-year-old person who reads a lot and who pays attention to reality the best that I can. Even though I am not the smartest person in the U.S. I am a person that strives to be bluntly honest about everything even if I don’t personally like the results of the answer. Truth has ‘no spin’ to it! I have said a few times before on this website that there really is only one real Truth, and that is ‘God’s’ Truth. When you/we/I have an argument concerning any issue, if we can honestly say that we would stand before our Creator, look Him in His eyes and tell Him that we are speaking the Truth, then that argument would be the Truth, to the very best of our personal knowledge anyways. Either that, or we would be acting like a total idiot and or a fool because we would be condemning our own self on purpose.

I have a question for each of us, do we/you/I believe that the politicians in D.C. are looking out for our best interest or their own best interest? Do you believe that your Congressman/woman, Senator or President cares more about you, or about the lobbyist who is funding their next campaign and or their personal lifestyle? Now, before I get into the meat of this article on the Opium issue I will tell you up front that Marijuana legalization is something that I totally agree with. I believe, excuse me, I know, that Marijuana helps with nerve pain, I am 100% sure of that. Back when I was in the U.S. Army I was directly struck by a lightning bolt. Even Social Security says I am disabled even though the VA doesn’t agree that the lightning has anything to do with me being disabled no matter what the non-VA Doctors and other experts have to say about it. As most of you know the Federal Government and the crooked ignorant putz AG Jeff Sessions say that Marijuana is just as or even more dangerous than Heroin and they class Marijuana as a class one narcotic, just like Heroin. To believe the Federal Government’s argument a person would have to be either clueless just plain ignorant or ‘on the take.’ The Feds say that Marijuana has no medical value even though that is totally contrary to all of the scientific evidence that says the Feds are lying.

So, the argument comes down to, why does the Fed’s keep lying? Or, do you really believe they are simply that ignorant? As long as the Federal government continues this policy the VA is not allowed to prescribe Marijuana to the service-connected disabled Veterans. The VA has no problem pumping many billions of taxpayer dollars worth of pills into the disabled Vets every year whether we need them or not but they refuse to allow the Veterans to use God’s given Herbs for pain relief. What is even worse is that if the VA in one of their blood or urine test finds THC from Marijuana in your system, they will cold turkey you off of the drugs they are giving/selling to you. This is even though doing this to people on some of these medications can easily kill a person. Why would any remotely honest or caring person do that to people? The answer to this is simple folks, its money.

For those of you who don’t believe me, I am going to offer you some cold hard facts as to why I used the title of this article. Even if you are a person who says they would never ever smoke Marijuana, does that mean that you have any right to insist that others cannot, no matter what? I am going to use last November’s Elections in Arizona as a perfect example. This example shows just how dirty big Pharma is, I am going to show you just how much they want people to die from Opium use and the reason is simple, money!

Within everyone’s brain, there is what is called an MU Opioid Receptor. This is something that Opium sticks to in a person’s brain. Morphine is an Opioid drug, just like Heroin is so I am going to use them in this example. Even though Pharma made drugs like Morphine and Oxycontin are very expensive even on the street drugs like Heroin are amazingly cheap. Yet there is another man-made drug called Fentanyl, a synthetic form of Heroin that is even cheaper and easier to make than regular Heroin. Trouble is this that this street drug Fentanyl is about 100 times more powerful than Heroin and it is very deadly even to come into contact with very much of it at all. Fentanyl has become a major problem for first responders, EMS and Police as they do come into contact with it many times every day. These days Ambulances and Police Vehicles are being required to carry the ‘antidote’ for their own safety’s sake.

This ‘antidote’ is called Narcan and Narcan is a drug that is big Pharma made and distributed. Concerning Opium products like Heroin and Morphine the antidote, Narcan works quite well at knocking the Opium off of the MU Receptor yet it does very little to help get the Fentanyl off of the MU Receptor. Don’t get me wrong, people are still dying every day from Opioid overdoses also. The Fed said that Opioid overdoses are up more than 400% here in the U.S. since the year 2000. The big Pharma company’s who make Narcan know this fact very well, so do the politicians yet they prove to all of us that they do not care about all of these thousands of people who are dying nor their families, nor even the First Responders.

Now back to the 2016 Elections in the State of Arizona. The facts show that in the States that have made recreational Marijuana legal that Opioid overdoses and deaths are down about 50%. On a side note, in these states alcohol sales are down about 25%, think of how many people aren’t getting into car accidents because of drinking and driving. Also, think of how many domestic violence deaths aren’t happening in those States and how many fatal ‘bar fights’ aren’t happening. Yet the reality is that big Pharma companies make billions from their pharmacy-made drugs so just like last November in Arizona they pumped in many millions of dollars in false advertisements to try to get the people of Arizona to vote down making Marijuana legal in their State. The sad part is, they were successful in Arizona. The big Pharmaceutical companies have been pushing hard to get Narcan into every ambulance, police car, school, and home in America. There is only one reason for this and that is money, to heck with people’s lives, the only thing that really matters is a company’s profits. These Pharmaceutical companies know that Marijuana is a natural painkiller but they aren’t making any money off of a plant that anyone can grow in their own garden. Now, you do understand why I said that the politicians and people like AG Jeff Sessions want to keep Marijuana illegal don’t you? The answer is very simple, campaign contributions from these big Pharma Companies and because of many who own stocks in these same big Pharma Companies.

 

Here are some of the companies who put huge amounts of money into last November’s ‘anti-pot’ vote in Arizona. I got this information from (The Guardian, US News And World Report, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and from Equities.com News.)

These companies are:

Chandler Pharma

Insys Therapeutics

Pfizer Inc

Walgreens Boot’s Alliance Inc

Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc

Mylan N.V.

Opnet Technologies Inc