It also goes against a campaign promise that Donald Trump made in 2016, when he told a Colorado news station the state should be allowed to keep observing its marijuana laws. “I think it’s up to the states, yeah. I’m a states person,” Trump said at the time. “I think it should be up to the states, absolutely.”
On the Senate floor Thursday, the usually mild-mannered Gardner was outraged, calling the decision “a trampling of Colorado’s rights, its voters.” He vowed to put a hold on every Justice Department nominee until Sessions reverses course.
He also said the decision by Sessions broke a personal pledge the former Alabama senator had made to Gardner before his confirmation last year: “I would like to know from the attorney general: What changed?”
Gardner spoke briefly with Sessions by phone afterward and the two men plan to meet soon, according to a Gardner aide.
It was the second time in recent months that the senator has very publicly gone against members of his party.
But Gardner, who hails from a state with a libertarian streak, is still a largely reliable vote for Republicans. He holds a leadership position in the caucus as chief of the Senate GOP campaign arm. Despite landing in the headlines recently for challenging those in his own party, it’s unlikely he’ll join the small chorus of Republicans who’ve become outspoken critics of President Trump, a la Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee.
Still, it was just months ago that Gardner led the risky charge to expel a potential Republican colleague.
As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he released a bombshell of a statement in November shortly after The Washington Post reported allegations of sexual abuse against Roy Moore, the Republican nominee in the Alabama US Senate special election.
Gardner said if Moore “refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him.” While many Republicans in the Senate urged Moore to drop out of the race, none of them had publicly gone as far as Gardner in saying Moore should be expelled if he were elected.
Even when the Republican National Committee decided to resume its support for Moore’s campaign, despite cutting ties just weeks earlier, Gardner and the NRSC held fast. “Roy Moore will never have the support of the senatorial committee,” Gardner told The Weekly Standard. “I won’t let that happen. Nothing will change. I stand by my previous statement.”
When Moore was defeated days later in an upset win by Democrat Doug Jones, Gardner didn’t need to follow through with his call to expel Moore: “Tonight’s results are clear — the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the US Senate.”
Gardner has also joined Flake and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in working heavily with Democrats to pursue a deal on immigration — and has stood apart from his party leadership in supporting Graham and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin’s legislation that would make the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program permanent.
Elected to the Senate in 2014, Gardner, 43, was previously a two-term US congressman and a member of the Colorado House of Representatives. He served as a congressional staffer early in his career.
In the Senate, he’s sought to build up his foreign policy credentials as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, with a focus on North Korea. He is also a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and the Budget Committee.
CNN’s Laura Jarrett and Tal Kopan contributed to this report.
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What Jeff Sessions thinks about marijuana(Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)
Jeff Sessions hates marijuana. Hates it, with a passion that has animated almost nothing else in his career. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” he has said. He even once saidabout the Ku Klux Klan, “I thought those guys were okay until I learned they smoked pot.”
He says that was a joke, but even so, it still says something about where he’s coming from.
So if you’re wondering why Sessions has endured the humiliation of being demeaned and abused by President Trump and stayed on as attorney general, one big answer is the policy change he announced this week, that he is rescinding an Obama-era directive that instructed federal prosecutors not to prioritize prosecuting businesses like dispensaries in states that had legalized cannabis. Sessions is finally getting the chance to lock up all those hippies, with their pot-smoking and their free love and their wah-wah pedals and everything immoral they represent. He’ll show them.
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So what happens now? The emerging legal picture is murky, since a lot depends on the individual decisions federal prosecutors will make. The political picture is somewhat clearer: This is bad news for Republicans.
Let’s start with the legal questions. The 2013 Obama administration letter that Sessions rescinded, called the Cole memo (you can read it here), told federal prosecutors that in states that had legalized marijuana, they should use their prosecutorial discretion to focus not on businesses that comply with state regulations, but on illicit enterprises that create harms like selling drugs to children, operating with criminal gangs, selling across state lines and so on. In other words, prosecutors could still fight the drug trade, but if a state has legalized marijuana and put in place its own regulatory system, they should leave those operating within that system alone.
There’s also a provision in the federal budget known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that forbids the Justice Department from using any resources to interfere with the provision of medical marijuana in states that have legalized it. Right now there are 29 states that have put in place some kind of medical marijuana system, in addition to the eight states (plus the District of Columbia) that have either legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana or set up an regulated system for the commercial sale of the drug. The most important is California, which as of the beginning of this year has legalized sales for recreational use.
So is every U.S. attorney in those eight states immediately going to start busting down the doors of marijuana dispensaries?
“I don’t think so,” said Tamar Todd, senior director of the Office of Legal Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, whom I spoke to this morning. “There’s plenty of drug law to enforce” when it comes to the illicit market, she noted, and federal prosecutors rely on cooperation with state authorities in much of their prosecutions of drug cases.
Going after state-licensed dispensaries or grow operations, furthermore, would leave federal prosecutors isolated. In states with legal marijuana systems, such a crackdown would produce an outcry from both Democrats and Republicans, in addition to state government and law enforcement officials. Federal prosecutors “lack the resources to go into California and enforce the marijuana laws against everybody, so federal interests are really best served by them teaming up and working with the states,” Todd says, “not using their resources to disrupt how the states are trying to responsibly regulate, which is just going to cause more harm for everyone.”
That doesn’t mean that a motivated U.S. attorney — a Sessions mini-me, if you will — couldn’t go on a crusade in his or her district and start prosecuting every marijuana operation in sight. While the Obama administration policy let states know they could craft their own regulations without fear of the feds coming in and wrecking everything they were trying to do, now there’s much more uncertainty.
“It does open up the opportunity for the rogue U.S. attorney who’s not about protecting the public but is more about an ideological opposition to legalization,” Todd said, “to prove that legalization doesn’t work by creating chaos and disruption.”
Even if that doesn’t happen, or happens only here and there, the Trump administration has sent a clear message to the public that it wants to turn back the clock on our nation’s drug laws. There’s no doubt that Sessions is sincere in his desire to do so, but politically it could be a disaster. According to the latest Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans favor legalization, including a majority of Republicans. There could be a dozen more states considering some form of legalization this year, either in their legislatures or through ballot initiatives, which will only bring more attention to the issue and set people’s own states against the administration. Just yesterday, the Vermont House of Representatives voted to legalizepersonal possession and cultivation of marijuana, and the bill is expected to pass the state Senate and be signed by the governor. They won’t be the last.
That the Trump administration is doing something so unpopular will put a lot of Republicans in a very awkward position, particularly if they come from a state like Colorado or California — precisely the representatives who are going to be most vulnerable in this November’s elections. Many of them have released outraged statements condemning the decision, but it might not be enough to persuade voters not to punish President Trump by voting them out. A member such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (whose California district was won by Hillary Clinton in 2016) can cry to his constituents that he opposed the marijuana crackdown and the tax bill (which cut back their deduction for state and local taxes), and they might listen. But in a year of a Democratic wave, they might also just decide to sweep him out with the rest of the GOP.
So the end result of this policy could well be to accelerate the liberalization of the nation’s marijuana laws. A backlash could help more Democrats get elected, and push elected Democrats to more unambiguously support legalization. Don’t be surprised if every Democrat running for president in 2020 favors ending the federal prohibition on marijuana and returning the question to the states. One potential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, has already introduced a bill to do just that.
Which will set up an interesting dynamic, in which Democrats are the ones arguing for pushing back against the heavy hand of federal power and letting states decide for themselves what they want to do. The traditional GOP position on states’ rights was always opportunistic, something they favored only when states were doing something they agreed with. But that will just be one more reason this is an issue Republicans want to run away from, and Democrats are eager to talk about.
So Sessions may get what he wants for now. But in the end, he probably did a great service to the legalization movement.
California pot shops ring in 2018, ring up first legal sales
Margot Simpson, right, and Diana Gladden wait in line to purchase marijuana at Harborside marijuana dispensary, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. Starting New Year’s Day, recreational marijuana can be sold legally in California. (Mathew Sumner/Associated Press)
By Brian Melley and Terence Chea | APJanuary 1 at 1:09 PM
OAKLAND, Calif. — Customers lined up early to purchase recreational marijuana legally for the first time in California as the new year brought broad legalization some two decades after the state was the first to allow pot for medical use.Jeff Deakin, 66, his wife Mary and their dog waited all night and were first in a line of 100 people when Harborside dispensary, a longtime medical pot shop in Oakland, opened at 6 a.m. and offered early customers joints for a penny and free T-shirts that read “Flower to the People — Cannabis for All.”
“It’s been so long since others and myself could walk into a place where you could feel safe and secure and be able to get something that was good without having to go to the back alley,” Deakin said. “This is kind of a big deal for everybody.”
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The nation’s most populous state joins a growing list of other states, and the nation’s capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.
California voters in 2016 made it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana, but it wasn’t legal to sell it for recreational purposes until Monday.
Finding a retail outlet to buy non-medical pot in California won’t be easy — at least initially. Only about 90 businesses received state licenses to open New Year’s Day. They are concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.
Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the many cities where recreational pot will not be available right away because local regulations were not approved in time to start issuing city licenses needed to get state permits. Meanwhile, Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside are among the communities that have adopted laws forbidding recreational marijuana sales.
Just after midnight, some raised joints instead of champagne glasses.
Johnny Hernandez, a tattoo artist from Modesto, celebrated by smoking “Happy New Year blunts” with his cousins.
“This is something we’ve all been waiting for,” he said. “People might actually realize weed isn’t bad. It helps a lot of people.”
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and state Sen. Nancy Skinner were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony as his city began selling marijuana legally. Customers began lining up before dawn Monday outside Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest dispensaries in the nation.
Los Angeles officials announced late last month that the city will not begin accepting license applications until Jan. 3, and it might take weeks before any licenses are issued. That led to widespread concern that long-established businesses would have to shut down during the interim.
However, attorneys advising a group of city dispensaries have concluded that those businesses can continue to legally sell medicinal marijuana as “collectives,” until they obtain local and state licenses under the new system, said Jerred Kiloh of the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry group.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many of those shops, if any, would be open New Year’s Day.
“We are trying to continue to provide patient access,” said Kiloh, who owns a dispensary in the city’s San Fernando Valley area. With the new licensing system stalled in Los Angeles “my patients are scared, my employees are scared.”
The status of the Los Angeles shops highlights broad confusion over the new law.
State regulators have said shops must have local and state licenses to open for business in the new year. But the city’s top pot regulator, Cat Packer, told reporters last month that medicinal sales can continue to consumers with a doctor’s recommendation until new licenses are issued.
The state banned “loco-weed” in 1913, according to a history by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the pot advocacy group known as NORML. The first attempt to undo that by voter initiative in 1972 failed, but three years later felony possession of less than an ounce was downgraded to a misdemeanor.
In 1996, over the objections of law enforcement, President Clinton’s drug czar and three former presidents, California voters approved marijuana for medicinal purposes. Twenty years later, voters approved legal recreational use and gave the state a year to write regulations for a legal market that would open in 2018.
Today, 29 states have adopted medical marijuana laws. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, five more states have passed recreational marijuana laws, including Massachusetts, where retail sales are scheduled to begin in July.
Even with other states as models, the next year is expected to be a bumpy one in California as more shops open and more stringent regulations take effect on the strains known as Sweet Skunk, Trainwreck and Russian Assassin.
The California Police Chiefs Association, which opposed the 2016 ballot measure, remains concerned about stoned drivers, the risk to young people and the cost of policing the new rules in addition to an existing black market.
“There’s going to be a public-health cost and a public-safety cost enforcing these new laws and regulations,” said Jonathan Feldman, a legislative advocate for the chiefs. “It remains to be seen if this can balance itself out.”
At first, pot shops will be able to sell marijuana harvested without full regulatory controls. But eventually, the state will require extensive testing for potency, pesticides and other contaminants. A program to track all pot from seed to sale will be phased in, along with other protections such as childproof containers.
Jamie Garzot, founder of the 530 Cannabis shop in Northern California’s Shasta Lake, said she’s concerned that when the current crop dries up, there will be a shortage of marijuana that meets state regulations. Her outlet happens to be close to some of California’s most productive marijuana-growing areas, but most of the surrounding counties will not allow cultivation that could supply her.
“Playing in the gray market is not an option,” Garzot said. “California produces more cannabis than any state in the nation, but going forward, if it’s not from a state-licensed source, I can’t put it on my shelf. If I choose to do so, I run the risk of losing my license.”
In 2016, the state produced an estimated 13.5 million pounds of pot, and 80 percent was illegally shipped out of state, according to a report prepared for the state by ERA Economics, an environmental and agricultural consulting firm. Of the remaining 20 percent, only a quarter was sold legally for medicinal purposes.
That robust black market is expected to continue to thrive, particularly as taxes and fees raise the cost of retail pot by as much as 70 percent.
Melley reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Christopher Weber, Michael R. Blood and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
An elderly couple pulled over in Nebraska with 60 pounds of marijuana had a holiday explanation for police officers.
“They said the marijuana was for Christmas presents,” Lt. Paul Vrbka of York County Sheriff’s Department told the York News-Times. He estimated the value of the weed was approximately $336,000.
Patrick Jiron, 80, and Barbara Jiron, 83, were pulled over Tuesday when deputies noticed the vehicle was driving over the center line of the road and Patrick failed to signal, the News-Times reported.
Vrbka told the paper the officers could immediately smell marijuana when they approached the car. They conducted a probable-cause search with the assistance of a canine unit and discovered the marijuana in boxes under the pickup truck’s topper.
The Jirons said they were from northern California and were headed to Vermont. They were both taken into custody.
On Thursday, the News-Times reported that Patrick was jailed on charges of possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver without a drug tax stamp. (Nebraska law requires marijuana dealers to purchase a stamp from its Department of Revenue to prove that the state’s drug tax has been paid.)
Patrick has since posted 10% of a $100,000 bond and has been released, according to the paper. His wife, Barbara, was only cited in the case “due to some medical issues,” Vrbka said.
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((oped) THE IDIOT, JEFF SESSIONS SEEMS TO NOT ‘GET IT’ AT ALL. THE BIG PHARMACEUTICAL’S PUMPED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS INTO ADDS IN STATES THAT WERE GOING TO VOTE ABOUT LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA IN AN EFFORT TO GET THE PEOPLE TO VOTE AGAINST LEGAL MARIJUANA. THERE IS ONE SIMPLE REASON FOR THIS, ALL STATS FROM STATES WHERE MARIJUANA IS NOW LEGAL HAVE SEEN ABOUT A 50% REDUCTION IN OPIOID DEATHS. LESS OPIOID USE/DEATHS, THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES MAKE LESS PROFITS. WAKE UP JEFF!!!) (trs)
Sessions: DOJ looking at ‘rational’ marijuana policy
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that the Justice Department is examining ways to work toward a “rational” marijuana policy, though he did not provide details, including whether the DOJ will crack down on states where the drug has been legalized.
“We’re looking very hard on that right now. In fact, we had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length,” Sessions said about the department’s stance toward marijuana during an announcement on new funding and tools the agency will use to combat the opioid crisis. He did not elaborate further.
The attorney general added that he views pot as “detrimental” and noted that consumption is still a federal violation.
“I don’t want to suggest in any way that this department in any way believes that marijuana is harmless … people should avoid it,” he said.
Sessions holds the power over the federal enforcement arm of criminal laws, such as the Controlled Substances Act.
The marijuana industry currently benefits from a legal memorandum issued by the Justice Department in 2013 that essentially adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws, so long as they don’t threaten other federal priorities, such as preventing the distribution of the drug to minors and supporting cartels. But a Justice Department with Sessions at the helm has the ability to rip this up and simply issue a new memo.
During the news conference, the former Alabama senator also said he felt “dubious” about a 2016 pharmaceutical lobby-pushed law that has made it more difficult for the Drug Enforcement Administration to take action against pharmaceutical distributors sending off large opioid shipments.
“I went along with it after the department and the DEA agreed to accept it,” Sessions said.
Earlier this fall, The Washington Post and CBS’ “60 Minutes” conducted a joint investigation into the effects of the bill. They found that the bill raised the burden of proof for the DEA, making it more difficult for the agency to stop high quantities of pain pills from entering pharmacies across the country.
“I would be supportive of new legislation,” Sessions said Wednesday, later adding, “I guess you could say in some areas it’s more difficult than it would have been had that law not passed.”
Sessions, a fervent critic of so-called “sanctuary cities,” emphasized that believes they are a safe havens for drug dealers, adding that their impact is being felt “across state lines.”
“I think sanctuary cities are a detriment to enforcing our drug laws and it just reaffirms my view that this is a very, very bad policy,” he said.
By Maegan Vazquez and Laura Jarrett, CNN
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Matthew Masifilo was a sophomore defensive lineman at Stanford in 2009 when he tore the MCL in his knee. The swelling and pain were horrible, he says. To lower his discomfort, and get him back on the football field, team doctors did what they often do in those situations. They prescribed Vicodin.
“I wouldn’t take it,” Masifilo said. “I always reacted badly to it. So I stuck with the old ways.”
The “old ways” featured regular consumption of kava, a ceremonial drink at the center of Polynesian culture. Made from the root of a native plant, kava is viewed largely as a social lubricant that delivers a calming, mellowing effect. But Masifilo considers it a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory agent, as well, a substance that is far less dangerous than opioids and doesn’t carry the legal hurdles of marijuana.
After retiring from a five-year NFL career in 2015, Masifilo has employed his Stanford engineering degree to deliver kava to football players — and anyone else — who want natural options amid the national opioid crisis. He invented a shaker bottle, which he calls an AluBall, to simplify the preparation process and encourage individual use at a time when kava consumption is spiking around the country.
“With the opioid crisis, there is a big need for other options,” said Masifilo, who was born in Hawaii but is of Tongan descent. “The doctors used to think I was crazy when I said I wanted to treat my injuries with kava. But it helped me, and I think it has the potential to help address this painkiller problem we have in football and many other sports.”
Thomas Keiser, for one, can provide powerful testimony. Masifilo introduced him to kava at Stanford, and Keiser said he “truly embraced it for pain management” during his second year in the NFL. As a linebacker for the Carolina Panthers in 2012, Keiser suffered a series of injuries that sound like they were caused by a car accident rather than football.
First, he endured an impact injury on his leg that required a sizable piece of flesh to be removed. The area got infected, causing pitting edema and then swelling throughout the leg. As he played through it, with the help of painkillers, he then tore the UCL in his left elbow when a collision pushed his arm backward. Braced and taped, he continued playing in that game — until he tore the UCL in his right elbow while trying to protect the left.
With a swollen leg and two torn UCLs, Keiser said he was “on lots and lots” of painkillers.
“One day I was like, ‘This is probably not a good path to be going down,'” said Keiser, who retired after the 2015 season. “Kava was absolutely a better alternative for me. To this day, it’s still part of my routine. I’ve taken painkillers and I’ve used kava. To me, opioids weren’t as much about relieving pain as they were almost just getting you high to take your mind off of the pain. Whereas, to me, kava feels like the actual addressing of pain.”
There is little clinical research on kava as a painkiller or anti-inflammatory, according to Dr. D. Craig Hopp, the deputy director of the division of extramural research at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Research does suggest, however, that kava works as an anti-anxiety agent — what Hopp called “herbal Xanax.”
Can diminished anxiety contribute to less pain? Perhaps.
“If you’re more calm or relaxed,” Hopp said, “if you aren’t stressed about the pain you’re under, that might help indirectly with the perception of its benefit. There isn’t much direct evidence of it as a pain reliever, but that might be an indirect link.
There are no clinical indications of addictive properties, and Hopp said: “But I think kava is much safer alternative in most circumstances than opioids.”
And while opioids are addictive and can destroy organs, there is little clinical concern for the safety of kava. In 2002, the Federal Drug Administration issued a consumer advisory that warned of possible liver damage. But those concerns have subsided, Hopp said, amid uncertainty about whether kava caused liver damage during research or if another substance did.
In recent years, in fact, kava bars — public establishments where kava is served instead of alcohol — have popped up around the country. The company Kalm with Kava has tracked the opening of 82 such bars in the U.S. Keiser said that many of the people he meets at kava bars say they are recovering opioid addicts. Indeed, Kopp said, “The things I’m aware of suggest that kava usage is the highest that it’s ever been.”
That’s a trend Masifilo will continue to try to bring to NFL locker rooms. Between the two of them, Masifilo and Keiser played for four different franchises. At one point or another, all of them had a group of players who would sit in the locker room after practice, drinking kava and talking. Kava helped alleviate the pain from the physical grind of the season, but the team-bonding benefits were just as significant, Keiser said.
Kava is a legal substance, according to U.S. law and NFL policy. Masifilo said some players have tried to keep their use “hush-hush,” but by all accounts, it has been welcomed by team officials who have noticed it.
“It was late afternoon,” Kraft said, “and they were just joshing around and having fun. It was really special.”
It is no secret that NFL players are desperate for pain relief, both during their career and afterwards. Keiser, who played in a total of 40 NFL games, deals with the aftereffects of not only the elbow injuries but also ankle and knee ligament tears, along with herniated discs in the lumbar, thoracic and cervical parts of his spine.
“I have major pain issues from the various injuries of my career,” he said, “I absolutely drink kava now and love it for the pain. It’s also a social drink, and it’s nice to get together with your boys and drink it for the social aspect of it.
“The big thing is that painkillers are far too common in football. This is a far better alternative to all the opioids. I can definitely speak from experience on that.”
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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:
Walgreens Boot’s Alliance Inc
Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc
Opnet Technologies Inc
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For the very first time in history the United States Government will have to answer to the judiciary about the scheduling of cannabis and its unconstitutionality. Jeff Sessions, the DEA, and the DOJ will all have to stand trial according to the judge overseeing their case. This is the first time that a trial to legalize cannabis has proceeded past the normal attempts at dismissal. All of the defendants will have to get recorded depositions. This is great news for the plaintiffs in the case which include Army combat veteran, Jose Belen, former NFL player Marvin Washington, 11 year old Alexiss Bortell who uses cannabis to treat her epilepsy, Jagger Cotte.
The developments are also welcome news for cannabis advocates around the country. If this lawsuit is successful, it would mean the scheduling of cannabis will be ruled unconstitutional and completely de scheduled federally. Some of the best quotes from the 80+ page filing in federal court can be found below.
“Despite the relatively recent stigmatization of cannabis in the United States as a supposed ‘gateway drug’ used primarily by ‘hippies’ and minorities, there is a long and rich history of people from virtually every part of the world using cannabis for medical, industrial, spiritual, and recreational purposes,” the suit reads. “Indeed, those who have cultivated, encouraged the cultivation of, and/or used cannabis include, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — an assortment of the most intelligent and accomplished statesmen in American history.”
“Jose’s treatment providers at the Veterans Administration informed Jose that they are unable to prescribe medical cannabis because it is illegal under the CSA,” reads the suit, referring to Belen, the military veteran.
“We are seeking a ‘declaration’ to that effect, and also a permanent injunction restraining enforcement of the CSA as written, as it pertains to cannabis,” said Lauren Rudick, one of the plaintiffs attorneys. “The classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug deprives individuals of basic constitutional rights, including Due Process and the fundamental right to travel. Some of these individuals, such as Alexis Bortell and Jagger Cotte (both plaintiffs in the action) are patients who seek cannabis as a means of life-saving medication. The government has a federal patent on cannabis, and has recognized the medical efficacy of cannabis in a variety of ways, yet Sessions is trying to reverse policy on cannabis use and contend that it has no medical use. It’s hypocritical.”
One thing is for sure, Jeff Sessions and the federal government will not go down without a fight.
Our neighbors to the north in Canada only had their rights recognized after challenging medical marijuana as a right through the courts. It appears this is how the Jeff Sessions legacy is about to be written. Instead of doing the right thing, his Justice Department will be forced to recognize the rights through the court system.
Please share this with your friends and make sure everyone keeps up to date on the developments in the case.
(As a reader and as a service connected disabled veteran due to a lightning strike, I know as a fact that marijuana helps greatly with nerve pain. Marijuana does not ‘cure’ the nerve pain, put neither does any of the VA’s drugs, the difference is Marijuana blocks the nerve signal that goes to the brain shutting down the pain for awhile. Va Pharmacy pills do not do that! I pray that this is not ‘fake news’.) (TRS)
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An overwhelming majority of U.S. military veterans and veteran caregivers support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, according to a new national poll by Five Corner Strategies conducted on behalf of the American Legion — and veterans aren’t going to stop until the Department of Veterans Affairs starts taking medical marijuana research seriously.
The poll found that while 82% of respondents supported the legalization of medical cannabis, a whopping 92% supported expanded research into the medical benefits of the drug. And that attitude cuts across political boundaries: 88% of respondents who self-identified as “conservative” and 90% of self-identified “liberals” supported a federal legalization effort.
Medical cannabis is currently only legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia; yet, it is unlawful for VA doctors to prescribe it since marijuana remains a Schedule 1 substance — forcing vets to use medical cannabis at their own risk or not at all. Further, shortfalls in funding, restrictive eligibility criteria for a recently approved federal study specific to vets, and little support from the VA has prevented any policies from moving forward in Washington, despite a growing acceptance of marijuana to mitigate pain and mental-health issues.
According to the American Legion’s new poll, one in five veterans surveyed consume marijuana “to alleviate a medical or physical condition.” Ironically, the majority of those using medicinal pot are over the age of 60, despite support for the practice declining among older respondents, where 100% of 18-30-year-old respondents favored federally legalized medical marijuana, only 79% of sexagenarians agreed.
Following the release of the poll, conducted by national PulsePoint IVR on 802 self-identified veterans (513 respondents) and veteran caregivers (289) between Oct. 8 and Oct. 10, 2017, on Capitol Hill on Nov. 2, the American Legion, in conjunction with members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, called upon Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin to push for new research despite an increasingly obstinate approach to legalization by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“In order to keep veterans safe, we need to listen then,” Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat from California and vice ranking member on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, told the assembled crowd. “When a majority of veterans say medical cannabis has the potential to provide relief, we need to listen to them … If the VA’s research confirms that medical cannabis can be effective, it can have a transformative effect of veterans care while preventing veterans from lipping into the trap of opioid addiction.”
The poll is the culmination of a growing push to change the federal government’s approach to veterans and medical marijuana. In a Oct. 26 letter to Shulkin, lawmakers on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs called on the VA to initiate renewed research into the medical benefits of legal cannabis, citing both a rising chorus of veterans advocacy organizations like the American Legion and the opioid epidemic that the Trump administration declared a national health emergency the same day.
While the VA has done little to move the needle on medical marijuana research, Shulkin has personally said he’s open to exploring alternative therapies, including medicinal weed, if they benefit veterans and their care.
“We are acutely aware of the work that’s going on around the country, particularly in states that have legalized medical marijuana,” Shulkin toldTask & Purpose in a June 12 interview. “And we are observing very closely work that’s being done that may be helping veterans, and we are open to any ideas and therapies that may be effective.”
VA Secretary David Shulkin on Medical Marijuana For Vets
In an exclusive sit-down interview with Task & Purpose June 12, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin made clear his department would pursue any emerging therapy with promise for disabled or troubled veterans — including medical marijuana. Here’s what he said.
National attitudes toward marijuana legalization have come a long way in recent years: According to an Oct. 25 Gallup poll conducted around the same time as the American Legion survey, a majority of registered Republicans are in support of marijuana legalization for the first time in a half-century. But even with public support for recreational marijuana legalization at an all-time high, only 64% are in favor of ending the federal prohibition on the substance — well below the levels of support detailed among veterans and military families in recent surveys.
While many veterans and doctors are already working to circumvent the VA’s existing medical marijuana policies, as Task & Purpose reported in October, it’s those changing attitudes among military and VA officials that will shape the course of medical marijuana research.
“As we researched, we came across veterans who said that the only reason they were alive today and didn’t commit suicide was because they found medical cannabis,” Lou Celli, the American Legion’s national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation, said on Nov. 2. “But you and I know we can’t change policy based on anecdotes. We need facts in order to have a meaningful discussion. And in order to get evidence and facts, we must do clinical research.”
VA Secretary Shulkin: ‘I’ll Have The Veterans’ Backs’
In an exclusive interview with Task & Purpose June 12, VA Secretary David M. Shulkin emphasized the importance of keeping a strong VA — and not privatizing all its services — to foster deeper trust between service members and the nation they serve.
Jared Keller is a senior editor at Task & Purpose and contributing editor at Pacific Standard. Follow Jared Keller on Twitter @JaredBKeller [email protected]
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