U.S.: The growing consensus for legal marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

The growing consensus for legal marijuana

The United States remains starkly divided between red and blue, with Republicans and Democrats each registering some gains and some setbacks in the elections. But on one important issue, a national consensus is emerging that transcends party and ideology. America is becoming Weed Nation.

On Tuesday, Michigan became the 10th state, along with the District of Columbia, to decide to legalize marijuana for purely recreational use. A quarter of Americans will live in states that let them get stoned without fear of the constable.

The states include not only reliably crunchy Oregon and Massachusetts but two that went for Donald Trump in 2016 — Alaska and Michigan. They range from the East Coast to the West and from the first in population, California, to the 49th, Vermont. The others are Colorado, Maine, Nevada and Washington.

Then there are the states that allow marijuana to be used for medical needs. On Tuesday, Missouri and Utah — Utah! — voted to join the club. That brings the total number of states that allow pot to be legally consumed in some circumstances to 33, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, plus Washington, D.C.

Pro-pot candidates also did well Tuesday. Illinois elected a governor, J.B. Pritzker, who favors allowing recreational cannabis. So did Connecticut (Ned Lamont), Maine (Janet Mills), Minnesota (Tim Walz) and New Mexico (Michelle Lujan Grisham). The winner in Wisconsin, Tony Evers, has said he is “not opposed” to it and would like a statewide referendum to settle the issue.

Read more: Michigan voters bring legal recreational marijuana to the Midwest »

Cannabis has already run away with the contest for public favor. In 2000, according to the Pew Research Center, only 31 percent of Americans supported legalizing recreational pot. Today, 62 percent do.

But even in states where cannabis is legal, it isn’t. Federal law still bans weed, with penalties that include prison time even for mere users. Sick people smoking it to relieve chronic pain, muscular dystrophy or epilepsy, in faithful compliance with their state laws, are not exempt from prosecution.

Under Barack Obama, the Justice Department adopted a hands-off policy toward states with permissive policies. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder issued directives instructing U.S. attorneys to defer to state laws on medical and recreational cannabis. The administration also tried to provide banks some assurance that they could handle the accounts of legitimate marijuana suppliers without being prosecuted.

But as soon as he was installed as attorney general, die-hard prohibitionist Jeff Sessions reversed course. He ordered prosecutors to fully enforce federal laws reflecting “Congress’ determination that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime.”

Does Congress really still believe that? This ought to be an issue on which the two parties can come together — not on whether marijuana should be legal but on whether states should be allowed to make their own choices. Last year, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky joined with Democratic colleagues Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to propose ending the federal prohibition on medical cannabis.

The conservative Tenth Amendment Center regards the federal law as an unconstitutional usurpation of state sovereignty. It was Georgetown professor Randy Barnett, a darling of the conservative Federalist Society, who in 2004 argued before the Supreme Court that the federal government had no right to stop individuals from growing pot for personal use.

Commentary: The cycle of life: Getting stoned again for health reasons »

He lost the case, but the court’s most conservative justice agreed with him. “Our federalist system, properly understood, allows California and a growing number of other States to decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens,” Clarence Thomas wrote in his dissent. “If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything.”

Neither party is consistent on matters of federalism. But this is the rare occasion when Republicans could enlist Democrats in curbing Washington’s meddling in matters that can be handled perfectly well at the state level — deploying a concept that liberals might find attractive under President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Republicans might also gain politically from eliminating the federal role. Taking a more moderate position on a matter that millions of people regard as no business of politicians could soften their image among independent voters. Passing an important measure with bipartisan support would demonstrate that the 2018 election results didn’t prevent our lawmakers from getting anything useful done.

I can just imagine it happening. And no, I’m not high.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.

[email protected]

Twitter @SteveChapman13

Mexico just took a big step toward marijuana legalization

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Mexico just took a big step toward marijuana legalization

Mexico’s Supreme Court deemed the country’s marijuana prohibition law unconstitutional.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday deemed the country’s marijuana prohibition law unconstitutional, bringing America’s neighbor one step closer to marijuana legalization.

It was not the first time the court made such a ruling, but it was the fifth time — a crucial threshold in Mexico. Under the country’s legal system, once the Supreme Court reaches a similar decision in five separate cases, the standard set by the rulings applies to the country’s entire court system.

As the Associated Press explained, “The rulings technically do not legalize recreational use, however. They establish that courts must allow it, but it is still up to each individual to press his or her case in the judicial system.” The rulings apply to possession, use, and growing — not commercialization or sales.

The Supreme Court “found that adults have a fundamental right to personal development which lets them decide their recreational activities without interference from the state,” the AP reported. The right is not absolute, and it does not apply to all substances — but it does mean that total marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional.

Suprema Corte

@SCJN

Primera Sala reiteró inconstitucionalidad de la prohibición absoluta del consumo recreativo de marihuana. Lo que permitió integrar jurisprudencia sobre el tema.

Mexican lawmakers could react to the ruling by adjusting the law to regulate marijuana under the new legal framework set by the Supreme Court. Officials in President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government have indicated that they may legalize marijuana, Reuters reported.

If Mexico’s government follows through, the country could become the third in the world to legalize pot for recreational purposes — after Uruguay and Canada.

Although nine states in the US have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, pot is still illegal under federal law in America.

Supporters of legalization argue that it eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: the arrests over a relatively harmless drug (and the racial disparities involved in America), and the billions of dollars that flow from the black market for marijuana to drug cartels that then use the money for violent operations around the world. All of this, legalization advocates say, will outweigh any of the potential downsides — like increased cannabis use — that might come with legalization.

Opponents, meanwhile, claim that legalization will enable a huge marijuana industry that will market the drug irresponsibly. They point to countries’ experiences with the alcohol and tobacco industries, which have built their financial empires in large part on some of the heaviest consumers of their products. This could result in far more people using pot, even if it leads to negative health consequences.

At least in Mexico, the supporters won a big victory this week.

For more on marijuana legalization, read Vox’s explainer.

November 6th: Another Big Election Year For Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES MAGAZINE)

 

15,547 views 

Another Big Election Year For Marijuana As Candidates Recognize Voters Want Legal Weed

Marijuana measures are big on the midterm ballot this year. Photo by Getty Images

The lucrative legal cannabis industry is again front and center this voting year as Americans head to the polls for midterm elections November 6. Ballots across the U.S. will include numerous cannabis-related measures — many at the county and municipal level — regarding laws for commercial cultivation in certain zones and how to spend abundant new cannabis taxes. In Colorado alone, legal cannabis revenues for 2018 crested a record $1 billion by August. The state is forecasting to gross over $1.5 billion by end of year, meaning more than $250 million into government coffers.

Several U.S. states will also vote on both adult-use and medical cannabis legalization. North Dakota and Michigan will decide on ballot initiatives for recreational cannabis for adults 21 and over, and Utah and Missouri will cast ballots on medical marijuana legalization. There are also 35 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs and 36 races for governor. And you can bet that those candidates are well aware that nothing brings out the vote — particularly the youth vote — like cannabis. Having already reached a tipping point of popularity in the U.S. — with 62 percent of Americans agreeing that marijuana should be legalized — candidates nationwide are currently more willing than ever to include cannabis endorsements in their platforms. Political contenders in many states are following the green, as a projection by BDS Analytics puts worldwide consumer spending on legal pot at roughly $57 billion by 2027.

In the highly contentious race for Florida’s governorship, candidates Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis are battling it out with clashing and irreconcilable political views — including opinions on healthcare, climate change and gun control — yet regarding the once controversial topic of marijuana legalization they are both supportive. “Legalize it. Tax it,” Tweeted Gillumearlier this year. “Use the revenue to fix Florida’s public schools and move us up from 29th in the nation to #1.” DeSantis was a bit more cautious but still pro-weed telling WPLG 10News, “I am going to implement the will of the voters. They passed medical marijuana overwhelmingly, and my view is we have a process in Florida when that happens, then we shouldn’t play games with it. We should just simply implement it.” Whoever becomes Florida’s next governor will certainly have a lot of say over the state’s evolving — and highly profitable — medical marijuana system, and over any potential recreational legalization efforts going forward.

There’s no better evidence of marijuana’s widespread popularity than Canada’s decision to make cannabis legal for adult use across the country this year. As cannabis retailers there contend with high demand and inventory shortfalls since legal weed sales fired up on October 17, it’s clear that consumers want this substance available. Buyers in the U.S. are signaling the same, as 31 states have legalized it for medical purposes and nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized the drug for recreational adult use. The message to candidates in many pro-marijuana regions is clear: go against the rising tide of cannabis legalization at your own peril.

Many states across the U.S. are weighing in on cannabis measures at the state and local level. Photo by Getty Images

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In California, where statewide recreational cannabis sales kicked off in January, Marijuana Business Daily reports that many jurisdictions in the state are still grappling with ironing out local marijuana laws. Some 82 cannabis-related ballot measures are slated to go before voters in cities and counties around the Golden State. Those measures will include regulations for cannabis entrepreneurs to operate within their borders, new licensing opportunities and setting tax rates. For instance, in Bakersfield, Measure J seeks to “retain the ban on commercial adult-use cannabis activity” but “allow and regulate commercial medicinal cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, testing, retailing, distribution and micro-business in the unincorporated area.”

In conservative-leaning Montana — a state that’s had a contentious history the past few years with legal medical marijuana — U.S. Senate candidate Jon Tester, who is currently ahead in the polls, said during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs meeting this year, “Veterans must have a say in how they manage their pain and the VA needs to listen to those veterans who are finding relief in medicinal cannabis.”

While midterm elections consistently have a much lower voter turnout compared with general elections, ballot measures can have a significant effect on who shows up to vote and subsequent outcomes. Cannabis looks to be one of the key motivators this year.

I’m a California native who’s seen marijuana go from back-alley weed deals to a new legal system with billion-dollar IPOs on Nasdaq. I cover worldwide trends of cannabis entrepreneurs, people building the backbone of this new sector with innovative products and services. I’m…

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David Carpenter is a contributing writer for Forbes covering cannabis from an entrepreneur’s perspective. You can visit his company Panther Papers and follow him on Twitter.

October 17th Recreational Marijuana Becomes Legal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOTLEY FOOL NEWS)

 

Why Marijuana Stocks Cronos Group, Canopy Growth, and Tilray Jumped Today

Find out why cannabis investors were excited today.

Oct 15, 2018 at 4:32PM
The stock market pulled back on Monday, with major benchmarks failing to build on the positive momentum from last Friday. Investors are looking forward to earnings season ramping up to full intensity, but ongoing turmoil in international markets seems to be holding back sentiment despite signs that the U.S. economy remains reasonably strong. Even on a pretty lackluster day, though, market participants were excited about the prospects for major new players in the cannabis industry. Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON)Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), and Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) were among the best performers. Here’s why they did so well.

The one reason that sent all these stocks higher

All three of these stocks have something in common: They all stand to benefit from Wednesday’s effective date for legal sales of recreational cannabis product in Canada. Marijuana investors have looked forward to Oct. 17 for a long time, and anticipation that the industry will bring in huge amounts of revenue from the Great White North has driven all three of these stocks higher over the past couple of months.

Hand holding marijuana leaf in front of rows of plants.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Some fear that the reality of legal recreational marijuana could prove to be less impressive than what investors expect, and that could lead to sell-offs for these stocks if it proves true. Yet for now, optimism still reigns supreme, and cannabis bulls think that these companies could all have further to climb.

News for cannabis companies

In addition to the broad-based interest in marijuana-related stocks, these three companies had some specific news items that raised awareness:

  • Cronos shares gained 19% after the company reported that it had entered into a partnership with a technology institute in Israel, under which researchers will look at the potential use of cannabinoids in support of skin health and to fight skin disorders such as acne and psoriasis.
  • Canopy Growth jumped 14% after it said that it will acquire key assets of Colorado-based hemp research company Ebbu in a cash-and-stock deal, with the cash component amounting to less than $20 million but with Canopy giving up a whopping 6.2 million shares to Ebbu, worth about $300 million based on Friday’s close.
  • Tilray subsidiary High Park Holdings announced three new brands for the Canadian market, including broad-based Canaca, Quebecois-focused Dubon, and northwestern-targeted Yukon Rove. Additional product lines include the Irisa brand of women’s wellness products, as well as the Goodship and Wallops lines of edible cannabis items. Tilray stock closed up 11.5%.

In the end, all three of these companies will have to prove that they can live up to the lofty expectations of marijuana investors and produce continuing sustainable growth. It’ll take time to see how successful they are at achieving this goal, but for now, shareholders have high hopes that things will go well for the cannabis industry.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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.”

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

 

Veterans Overwhelmingly Favor Medical Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘TASK & PURPOSE’)

 

Veterans Overwhelmingly Favor Medical Marijuana. When Will VA And Lawmakers Get On Board?

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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.

RELATED: LAWMAKERS ARE URGING THE VA TO TAKE MEDICAL MARIJUANA FOR VETERANS SERIOUSLY »

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.”

veterans medical marijuana research

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.

RELATED: HOW VETS AND THEIR DOCTORS ARE GETTING AROUND THE VA’S MEDICAL MARIJUANA POLICY »

“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.”

WATCH NEXT:

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
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How To Stop The North American Drug War Right Now

How to Stop the North American Drug War Right Now

 

War is horrible, always has been, always will be. Any deaths or injuries from something that is unnecessary is a travesty and a sin upon the human race. Before you start getting your back hairs up please listen to what I believe is a solution to stop almost all of the bloodshed in North America’s illegal drug trade.  Now don’t faint, get the government out of the drug trade, have Congress pass certain laws that I will explain in a moment, with stated consequences and then make all drugs legal for adults. Don’t choke, just listen okay.

1.a) Treat marijuana as they do now in Washington and Colorado. Also decriminalize other nature made plants like Peyote and Mandrake. Treat them like booze as far as the tax system and the buzz factor. Just like beer or wine a person should be able to relax at home after a hard day’s work with such a natural relaxer. This is no one else’s business, not yours, not mine, not any governments!

b)  Doing this would wipe out some states red ink completely.

c) These are non violent drugs in almost all people who have ever used them; people do not tend to smoke a joint then go out and do any violent act. Pretty much the only violence involving these drugs is because of them being classified by governments as being illegal; this is what causes unnecessary bloodshed between drug cartels and law enforcement officers. Make these nature made relaxers legal to the public and you take all of it’s profit from the drug cartels. When people can grow it domestically then there would be no need for it to be imported from gangs or covertly distributed by domestic gangs.

d) This part is about our sister countries to our south where many products are grown and transported. In a moment I am going to address other types of drugs that are dangerous to the human body and to any culture. If there were no need for Mexican and South American drugs and the cartels that profit from them, then Mexico for an example could live in peace and use their energies, lands, and their smarts to build up their own countries economies. Doing this would also have a byproduct of giving the people jobs within their own countries which would drastically decrease the human flow to the north. These people are coming to America trying to find work so that they can survive, if they can find income in their own homeland, most will not move away.

e) Before I go onto the harder drugs part of this commentary there is something, a line of thought I just have to broach, something in which I believe people are either hypocritical in or simply ignorant in regard too. Forever it seems I have heard people say that if people are allowed to smoke marijuana they won’t stop there, that people will just go onto harder drugs, I disagree with this assumption. I am in my early sixties, I have known people who have smoked marijuana for over forty years and they never went onto other harder drugs, they never wanted to nor “needed” to. These are people who have worked in many different professions, bought homes, raised families, and retired. Good honest hard-working tax payers who bothered no one and only asked to be left alone. What our hypocritical system has done to American society has totally backfired and has only made the drug problem and the violence problems in our country and other countries much worse, now, please let me explain what I mean by that statement. Marijuana tends to stay in smokers systems about thirty days, people who simply wanted to have a way to relax at home at night or on the weekends know this about the THC in that tobacco. People know that this THC will get them in trouble with their employers or potential employers as well as with law enforcement if for some reason they get checked. So many millions of people who only smoked Pot quit and then went onto other things to help them relax and to unwind, many changed to alcohol which leaves ones system within hours. Alcohol in many, many people brings out their violent inhibitions, this act alone has caused many millions of violent deaths and injuries. Some people who would only be smoking Pot have gone to other drugs like Cocaine, Heroine, Crack Cocaine, and Meth. Part of this reason is because these drugs tend to go through a person’s system in about three days, making it less likely for them that they will get caught than with the thirty days of Marijuana’s THC. America’s desire to control and eliminate other people’s right’s, and I do mean “rights”, to simply relax and unwind from the worlds pressures has caused a modern-day Prohibition situation like America had in the 1930’s with alcohol, except our self –righteousness of today has caused it with drugs.

2.a) I am not saying that the hard, chemical, man-made street drugs should be used by anyone, what I am saying is that our laws/focus should be changed to help in stopping the violence in America, Mexico, and South America over drugs. As an example I am going to use powdered and Crack Cocaine. This is a drug that makes the drug cartels a lot of money and a lot of people in our country and along our southern border, including many of our law enforcement officers have died because of it, just like with  Marijuana shipments.

b) Change the laws here in America! If all employers, if they choose to, did pre-employment drug screens and by law could do on the spot at work drug tests if they though a person was using, and were allowed to fire a person on their second positive, this would stop a lot of people from taking the chance of using. If a person knows that they could that easily lose their ability to pay for a roof over their head and lose their ability to buy food, most people would not use. A so-called responsible person with a family, mortgage, car payments and the such would be a fool to take a chance of losing everything they had worked their whole life for just to get a buzz.

c) If a person is working and they get hurt on the job, when they are taken to the clinic or hospital and it is found out that they were buzzed a couple of things should need to happen. One would be they could get fired if the employer wishes. Also the hospital should not have to treat them unless the person could pay the bill themselves, and the work-comp insurance company should not be required to pay the medical bills nor have to pay any payments to the person who was buzzed that caused the accident. If this “buzzed” person caused harm to any company equipment or caused any company “down time” the buzzed person should have to pay these expenses. If this persons actions caused the injury to another person this person should be able to sue the buzzed person in court for any and all damages. This at fault person should then be allowed to be brought up before the court on criminal charges if the court deems it appropriate. If these laws were put into force it would make most people think more than twice about getting that buzz.

d) When it comes to driving put the same type of laws in force. If I am buzzed and I caused an accident no insurance should have to pay for my stupidity, I should have to pay for all damages myself. My car if damaged would be my own loss if I’m high and I wreck it. If I caused damage to other people’s property my insurance should have to pay it if covered under my policy, but then my insurance should be able to retrieve all damage cost from me. If I hurt someone they should be able to sue me directly for all personal damages they incurred. If this means me having to sell my house, cars, boats, ect and hand over all of my life’s savings and investments, so be it. This would even the playing field between rich and poor, if it is mandatory that every individual person will be hit directly in their wallet, it will make even the wealthiest person think before they do the drugs.

e) If the laws were set up so that if I choose to possess heroine in my home or car let me do it legally. Make no law against possession, but put in mandatory prison time if I use any of these drugs and harm anyone in any way, that includes domestic violence. Also, as I said earlier that if I am on a drug like heroin and I get hurt at home and it was due to my chemical state no medical facility or medical person should be obligated or forced to treat me, if I OD and die, that’s my tough luck for acting stupid.

f) That’s it folks, like all things some tweaking would be needed to close all loop holes but I believe a system like this could work. I simply want to stop the violence and at the same time give people their God-given right to relax at home with a glass of wine, beer, or a joint. This program of safety laws would stop the cash flows to drug cartels and in doing so would stop the drug war that is raging in our country, Mexico, and South America.

G) The single biggest reasons that I don’t believe these fixes will ever become law is that when people are allowed to use marijuana, alcohol sales and pharmaceutical sales of narcotics has dropped off, a lot. These are companies that feed a lot of money into political campaigns.

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

 

Federal Judge Says DOJ Must Answer For Marijuana Being Classed As A Class 1 Drug

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘FLORIDA MARIJUANA.NET)

 

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.

alexis bortell medical marijuana

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.Marvin Washington medical marijuana

“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 Belen cannabis jeff sessions

“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.

jeff sessions medical marijuana

 

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.

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