Author: Dane Larsen

Republican States are Caving on Marijuana Legalization

By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

During the 2018 election season, the ballot initiative was taken by the people of Missouri, Michigan, and Utah that will lead to some degree of marijuana legalization. The previously thought absurdity of a normalized marijuana community and/or industry seems to be fading away as the years go by.

The issue caused uproar across the United States even for strictly medical authorization in select states. Progressive states on the west coast have gone so far to codify cannabis for recreational use, however the stigma has been set up for long enough to the point where it was unsure whether or not particularly socially conservative states of the south and fly-over country would ever cross the threshold to permit use of marijuana in any practice.

Recently, dubbed the “green wave”, a major shift in the policy of red states, that uphold traditional culture on a pedestal has taken place, resulting in the progression of culture regarding minor issues on the national scale, marijuana legalization being one. For example, this past Wednesday, June the 9th, congressmen from both West Virginia and Kentucky introduced similar proposals, both calling on fellow lawmakers to allow the people of their respective states to retain the freedom of body autonomy. With the legalization of marijuana to any degree, the citizens gain the choice of what to do what they want to do to their own body.

West Virginia

State Senator Richard Ojeda (D) representing the 7th district of West Virginia, submitted a bill to permit adults aged 21 and over to grow, consume, or possess any amount of marijuana for medical or recreational users alike. SB143 outlines a seemingly radical idea to the conservative majority of West Virginia population, calling on Governor Jim Justice to (R), saying in the annual State of the State Address this past week that he is “adamantly, etched in stone, adamantly against recreational marijuana”.

With this no-nonsense policy of the state executive branch, the bill is not expected to pass through Congress in 2019, but the outcry of people from the general public has made major shifts in the way other states and their very own government look at the population of West Virginia. Although they were the only state to declare independence from the Confederate States of America in the Civil War, it is recognized as a Southern state in its culture and political appearance. With the introduction of this bill, discourse on the topic of marijuana is pushed to the forefront of congressional discussion in just about the most hard-right, red-run state in the USA, with 68.8% of who voted for Trump in 2016.

Kentucky

More or less in the same situation as West Virginia when it comes to Southern perception, Kentucky has taken a different approach to the cannabis issue, taking small steps to legalize it, instead of going full-out in one bill as West Virginia is attempting. Senator Dan Seum (D) is teaming up with Jason Nemes (R) and Diane St Onge (R) on HB136 that would allow doctors, at their own discretion, to prescribe medical marijuana to patients they see the best fit for the products. Governor Matt Bevin has been on record saying that he will sign off on a medical marijuana bill if it is regulated properly, especially for an industry with such a negative stigma.

The sponsors of the bill state that with the passing, the state could provide alternative can to combat side effects for conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill does not list any conditions but leaves that up to doctors to decide when to recommend it. “We’re trying to address the 40,000 to 60,000 Kentuckians who are not having symptoms addressed by conventional medicines,” St. Onge stated on Thursday, revealing a less radical approach to the issue, one that can speak to the conservative state easier.

The Green Wave

Other states have formulated plans on taking progressive steps towards varying levels of marijuana legalization, however, no solid legislation has been written in said states.

Missouri has already gained approval from the legislative committees needed, as they legalized medical marijuana in the past 2018 midterms as a ballot initiative. Representative Brandon Ellington (D) plans to go farther with this issue, with bills in the works to work towards decriminalization and eventually legalization. Texas legislators plan to propose a constitutional amendment to legalize all forms of cannabis; while New Jersey plans to do the same, gaining most of its support not from the House Representatives and Senators, but rather Governor Phil Murphy (D). Virginia could see the forward movement as well, with Governor Ralph Northam (D) on record backing in favor of progressive marijuana policies, stating that decriminalization could “ease overcrowding in our jails and prisons, and free up our law enforcement and court resources for offenses that are a true threat to public safety.”


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Obamacare’s Readmission Reduction Program is Quite Literally Deadly

By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

The so-called raging success and/or failure, depending on who you ask, of the Affordable Care Act passed by President Barack Obama is often stated as such without question in right-leaning and left-leaning echo chambers of the politisphere. The right has deemed it as a colossal deficiency or a strain on the United States, while the left has deemed it a progressive triumph for the very same country.

It goes without saying that all government operations have their fair share of faults, but the Affordable Care Act included a section beyond the normal text and into the fine print that, when implemented correctly, achieved what it set out for, but caused a reaction that any intellectual could have foreseen from a mile away.

The Hospital Readmission Reduction Program portion of our country’s healthcare alteration allowed the government to levy penalties on companies offering Obamacare policies who’s readmission rates soared after the passing of the ACA. A patient who is readmitted, classified as someone who is granted assistance within 30 days of the previous discharge of that very same hospital, will be denied service.

If the service is not denied and the company performs the necessary treatment, the federal government penalized said companies to an unaffordable degree. In just one year after the passing of this amendment, the New York City Presbyterian Hospital lost $1 million after readmitting patients with heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and lung infections.

This particular example is indicative of the ACA hitting the bull’s eye of the wrong target. While readmission rates have decreased, a clear correlation of mortality rates of citizens relying on Obamacare has increased at a troubling rate. Post-discharged patients with pneumonia and heart failure mortality rates steadily increased in the cited investigation monitoring patients over periods of time after admission. Death rates of those who were denied service raised “0.27% from period 1 to period 2”, then “0.49% from period 2 to period 3”, and finally “0.52% from period 3 to period 4”.

This is not to dismiss the successes of Obamacare, as to do so would be ignorant and refusing to acknowledge that the DNC has done something noteworthy in the past 5 years since the ACA’s passing. The uninsured rate declined from 17.3% in 2013 to 10.8% midway through the year of 2016, reported by a Gallup study. The decrease in the previously stated statistic rations out to roughly one million more people insured that the top 3 cities in the US combined (NYC, Los Angeles, and Chicago). However, with that being said, nothing is ever perfect, most certainly when it comes to government-run entities and programs. When the effects of such mishap result in easily-preventable deaths, feedback and outcry of the public is necessary to demand change in Washington.


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The French “Yellow Vests” Movement Is Not Slowing Down

Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

“There is an extreme core of several thousand people who would come to Paris to destroy” – Jean-Michael Blanquer, French Minister of Education (Dec. 6)

For the past couple of weeks, since President Emmanuel Macron signed into law a gas tax hike on France, citizens have taken to the streets in protests that have taken a turn for the worst. With the peaceful protests came violent revolt by anti-Macron agitators who have dubbed themselves “Les Gilets Jaunes“, which translates to “The Yellow Vests”.

Macron’s initial intention was to de-incentivize driving, ultimately reducing carbon emissions. This particular proposal represented his stance on global warming and environmental-friendly protocol. However, the lower classes of France have voiced their discontent; protests, both peaceful and violent, are occurring across the country.

The radicals of the left and right alike have come together in a moment of unity to voice their outrage on the very streets where Macron spends his days. In an effort to create order, police lined in the streets surrounding the capitol. Protests turned violent when they started to shoot rubber bullets at activists.

Since then, the police have fired tear gas at the citizens and closed tourist attractions. The French government has also declared a national emergency. A recent poll, though, shows 72% of the French support the Yellow Vests. The uproar in France has caused a domino effect across Europe called the “European Spring“. The protests have inspired Yellow Vests so far in Belgium, Catalonia, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and The Netherlands.

The Yellow Vests Continue

Recently, Macron caved, suspending the gas tax hike he had signed. It appears that his reaction was mainly, if not entirely, to appease the masses. Macron’s policies themselves have yet to change. Despite his actions, the French Yellow Vests are continuing the European Spring, refusing to stop.

Hundreds of injuries and arrests have occurred in the past week alone, showing no sign of slowing down. In fact, on Thursday, December the 6th, students took to the streets to voice their disapproval, and the Yellow Vests are gearing up for hard-fighting protests on this upcoming Saturday, December the 8th.

Members of the French parliament and the President’s cabinet have articulated worry for the upcoming protest recently. The French Health Minister, Agnès Buzyn, stated: “There is a concern about this violence and some who do not want to find a solution”. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has shunned the protestors publicly. He insisted that “What is at stake is the safety of the French people and our institutions. I call here for responsibility”. He also added that “all the actors in this public debate, politicians, union leaders, and citizens, will be accountable for their statements in the coming days”.

71 Republic will continue to report on the injuries, arrests, and major story developments for the upcoming riots and protests this Saturday and afterward.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

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These 4 States Could Legalize Marijuana this November

Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

November 6th marks a turning point in the United States, as the elections will determine which party holds the majority in Congress for the next two years. What many people do not understand, however, is that voting for candidates to represent them will not be the only thing that occurs next Tuesday in booths across the county.

After voting on specific state and national Congressmen and Congresswomen, an alternate section in the voting booth will ask questions pertaining to major issues in the respective state, by voting on initiated state statutes. On the ballots for 2018, four states will mention either the legalization of recreational and/or medicinal marijuana. Among those four states are Missouri, Michigan, Utah, and North Dakota. These states are taking the initiative that we have seen in many other regions across the country.

Marijuana — Side Effects & Consequences

Missouri

Missouri is the most radical of the four, laying out a 54th section to Article IV of the state Constitution. The proposal would make amendments as follow:

“Cannabis shall immediately be removed from the Missouri list of controlled substances”.

“Remove state prohibitions on the possession, growth and sale of marijuana for personal or medical use by anyone 18 years and older.”

“Anyone under the age of 18 shall have access to cannabis through physician recommendation or consent from legal parent/guardian”.

“All prisoners who have been incarcerated for non-violent, cannabis-related crimes shall be released within 30 days, unless time remains on the sentence for another dissimilar offense”.

Under Amendments Nine and Ten of the US Constitution, Missouri will reserve its right to nullify any federal laws conflicting with this act. The state will also prohibit any state funds to be used to assist in DEA or any other federal agencies in marijuana offense enforcement.

Michigan

With Michigan’s Proposal 1, the state would become the first state in the Midwest to legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana for citizens aged 21 and over. The motion would set a state-mandated tax on cannabis products with a 10% tax, to eliminate incentive to buy the products. “Revenue from the tax would be allocated to local governments, K-12 education, and road and bridge maintenance”.

The other side of this Proposal allocates the full responsibility of their actions to the pot users and growers, allowing the citizens of Michigan to grow up to twelve plants on their respective property unless municipalities restrict marijuana institutions in their jurisdiction. Marijuana-related charges will be decriminalized for future cases, and cases with offenders currently serving time may be overturned on a case to case basis.

Utah

The culture around Utah has a different outlook on legalizing all cannabis, like the cases in Michigan and Missouri. Most prominently, the progressive political action committees are lobbying for the legalization, while the protruding Church of Latter Day Saints suggests otherwise. Proposition 2 this November pledges to legalize medicinal marijuana for specific situations with the necessary conditions. Licensed physicians would be able to give out medical cards for marijuana products with guidelines and restrictions on use of said products.

Approved individuals are permitted to buy at most two ounces of unprocessed marijuana and/or a cannabis-based product with no more than ten ounces of THC included. The restrictions get even more limited, with absolutely no permission to smoke these products. Proposition 2 also will levy high business costs for the institutions creating the products, but alternatively spare marijuana from local and state sales taxes.

North Dakota

After trying to get this statue, or ones like it on the ballots for the past three election cycles, North Dakota finally has landed a position for ‘Measure 3, Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative’ for the 2018 Midterms. This option on the ballot was created to legalize all the uses of cannabis in the state of North Dakota, whether for medicinal or recreational reasons. This would be true for any citizens aged 21 and over, with lobbied penalties for offenders caught using or abusing marijuana products who are under the age of 21.

Furthermore, the state of North Dakota will turn to the elimination of criminal records for people sentenced to jail time because of marijuana-related crimes. People arrested with counts of possession or were caught dealing will reserve their rights under Measure 3 to a speedy trial in order to pardon them out of the prison system.


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Texas Nuclear Weapons Plant Facing Emergency

By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

The Pantex Nuclear Weapons Plant in Amarillo, Texas has undergone the activation of its ‘Emergency Response Organization’ on Tuesday. The security and official board state that “operational emergencies” triggered the primary breach.

So far, the surrounding communities and counties have not reported any injuries or deaths. However, officers of Public Safety Departments and emergency management assistants in the neighboring Armstrong and Carson Counties are now responding. So, it is possible, though not certain, that this may change.

The Pantex Plant has been a vital branch in the nuclear arms industry. Capable of assembly, disassembly, and activation of nuclear weapons, it has also been subject to legitimate concerns in the past. In the past, employees with a combined “189 years of experience” wrote a complaint letter to the US Department of Energy. The Pantex Plant workers described humanitarian issues and subpar employee conditions in the complex.

The letter stated “excessive work hours are resulting from pressure by Pantex operator BWXT and the National Nuclear Security Administration to meet unrealistic production goals given the size of the workforce. In 2007, the disassembly production goals will increase by 50 percent.”

Past Problems of the Pantex Plant

Furthermore, safety violations have been evident since the turn of the century. In 2004, the plant was fined $124,000 for a crack in a 1200-kiloton W56 arm. Though workers were disassembling the arm, it still was not of adequate quality. In 2005, they received another $110,000 DOE fine for a faulty disassembly tool.

Throughout its history, the Texas nuclear plant has not been without its share of workplace illness. In fact, nuclear radiation has given well over 1,000 plant workers cancer. It is currently unclear whether today’s incident will expand that figure to the surrounding community.


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