Tag: medical marijuana

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is My Kind Of Democrat

By Spencer Kellogg | @Spencer_Kellogg

She’s not rich. That’s the worst they have on her. She’s a free woman who doesn’t think as they do. That’s what scares them the most. She was born of a distinctively new world. She is fierce, full of fire and appears never to lie. She is not Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer. She isn’t living deep in the rotting corpse of hypocrisy. She is a believer. Of all the members of Congress, she seems most likely to end the wars.

She hopes to save the planet too. In her short membership in Congress, she has shown the backbone to stand up for her kooky brand of progressivism by writing legislation that echoes the sentiments of the voters who put her in office instead of the lobbyists pulling at her borrowed coat. We could use a lot more of that. In these ways, she is my kind of Democrat.

Cortez has become the unbearable itch in the side of conservatives and libertarians alike. She has captured the media spotlight and the debate over her membership in our legislative house will surely continue in earnest. They poke fun at her with memes that laugh at her wacky disposition and question her economic literacy. The National Review went as far as to label her the ‘progressive Sarah Palin.‘ She hasn’t been in office for more than a month and already a large portion of the American media and the American public have deemed her unsavory for political office. Luckily, it is the voters of a precinct who decide their representation, not the prescriptive highway of social media and digital press.

Candace Owens, the face of errant black republicanism, has been the most recent know-nothing pundit to slam Cortez for her struggle to maintain two homes in two of America’s most expensive cities. Owen’s potshots are not based on merit but in an eagerness to move the spotlight, however faintly, into her direction. Here’s a newsflash for all those eager to criticize Cortez for being an average, run of the mill, lower middle class American: most of us are in the same boat.

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I moved to Washington D.C. this past fall for an internship with the Cato Institute. I learned first hand just how difficult it is to find a suitable rental at a price that wasn’t wallet gouging. As a millennial, the idea of maintaining an apartment in DC and another city seems totally unfeasible and nearly impossible. On top of student loan payments and stagnating wages, it’s become a necessity to be rich if you want to represent your district in Washington. That’s not right. When I heard that Cortez was having trouble affording a place in DC, I couldn’t help but think that was a good thing.

The disconnect between average Americans and the plutocrats who govern them is wider than ever. Personally, I’m happy to hear about the struggles of a young Congresswoman to find housing in DC because it mirrors my own struggles. While most politicians are bar hopping U Street with lobbyists in tow, Cortez faces the same type of economic situation as me and many of my peers. Oh, and by the way, Cortez has signed onto legislation that would make DC a state.

She has made glaring mistakes that expose her youth and lack of intellect. She incorrectly suggested that the Defense Budget rose $700 billion (when it actually rose only $30 billion) and also mixed up the three branches of government in an embarrassing video chat last month. Even with these humiliating oversights and even if she sits firmly to the left of my ideological interests, I still consider her my ally.

On Marijuana, for instance, Cortez has been more than willing to work with Republican counterparts to push forward legislation to legalize the recreational substance. In other ways, we couldn’t be further apart. Recently, she proposed a “Green New Deal” that would be financed by a 70% tax rate for those making more than $10 million a year. I find this plan as egregious and dangerous as many of the uninformed rebuttals it has spurred.

Representative government shouldn’t be about making monsters out of average people. Cortez is not a monster. She dances and she struggles with rent and she wants to see a better world for those that sit outside the comforting walls of white patriarchy. Given the rapidly changing demographics of the United States, these are commendable traits.

Though it may be true that Cortez represents ideas that have failed across the developed world, we also must recognize the reason why she has galvanized a voter base; there is a very real disconnect between those who govern and those who struggle. The people of America and the great western societies are rejecting their moderate representatives for more biased and engaging figures who are willing to propose solutions to the problems we all face. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the inevitable backlash from years of whitewashed politicians placating their own beltway interests.

For now, and with reservation, she is my kind of Democrat.

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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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The U.S. Stance on Marijuana Is Contradictory

William Ramage | United States

Multiple nations around the world are shifting towards marijuana-friendly policies. However, the United States has remained highly conservative on the issue. Despite numerous breakthroughs in the medical use of marijuana, the majority of the United States has yet to legalize any form of cannabis. Given this steadfast view on marijuana, why does the United States take such a liberal approach to alcohol?

The Alcohol Comparison

Alcoholism, drunk driving, and alcohol poisoning contribute to 88,000 annual alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. Alcohol is the third highest cause of preventable death in America, falling short to tobacco use and physical inactivity. On a global perspective, alcohol-related deaths account for 5.9% of total deaths.

In spite of this, modern society has normalized the use an abuse of alcohol. As a result, it often overlooks these looming problems. This normalization of alcohol is a result of alcohol use being prevalent throughout the majority of human history; we are simply used to it and have grown accustomed to it. In the early days of our republic, there was an effort to outlaw alcohol.

The Temperance Movement came from alcohol plaguing the common man. In fact, many would spend far too much of their wages on liquor. This negatively impacted his family and resulted in many inter-familial tensions. The movement was mildly successful but eventually died out completely.

Present day marijuana resistance, on the other hand, is essentially an unorganized, government-led temperance movement. It is preventing the population of our “free” country from using it medically and recreationally without a specific reason to ban it. In fact, a nationwide legalization of marijuana would be beneficial on various levels, far more so than alcohol is.

Marijuana and Medical Benefit

Marijuana has many health benefits, including being an effective painkiller. Cannabis can absolutely be an addictive substance. However, addiction is fairly uncommon and less dangerous, especially compared to opiates like morphine and codeine. These drugs, though, are legal in the United States for medical use. One can very easily overdose to the point of death from using these opioids, while it is impossible to do so from marijuana.

A number of studies have shown that marijuana use helps to curb vomiting and nausea in chemotherapy patients. The government should not be preventing these patients from receiving the treatment they need; it is unfair and the benefits greatly exceed the minor risks. There is also some evidence that suggests marijuana can target cancer cells without harming normal ones.

If applied on a national level, medical marijuana could cause a breakthrough in cancer research. Marijuana is a very low-risk drug, far more so than many legal ones. America’s decision to legalize cannabis in all forms is long overdue, and its strict policy on it is incredibly contradictory, given the legal status of other drugs, both recreational and medical.  


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VIDEO: Utah Senator Eats Weed Gummy Bears

By Spencer Kellogg | @spencer_kellogg

During a recent weekend vacation to Nevada, incumbent Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis ate marijuana gummy bears to understand the effects of the plant better.  “I thought it was about time that at least one legislator knew a little bit about marijuana before we changed all the laws,” Dabskis said outside of NuLeaf dispensary in Las Vegas.

The eccentric Senator posted a five-minute video to his Facebook account that showed him wrestling with the childproof packaging before grimacing as he ate one of the gummies. In his post, Dabakis noted his status as a ‘marijuana virgin’ and that he was interested in knowing the effects of the edible before a critical vote on medical marijuana in his home state.

“I have to admit, somewhat shyly, I have never tasted, smoked, eaten or shot up marijuana in my life.” (As a long-time marijuana user, I can also confirm that I have never ‘shot up’ marijuana). The earnestness of the Senator to step outside his boundaries and use real-life experience to help him better understand the ramifications of using marijuana is refreshing. It signals a fundamental shift in the political debate surrounding legalizing cannabis.

The Senator’s actions drew rave reviews from posters on Facebook. Commentators championed the Senator’s experiment with one poster suggesting that State level employees would lose their job for doing the same: “What you just tasted could cost a state employee their job!” Another Facebook user suggested the Senator eat some avocado toast to help the THC kick in: “You should eat some good fats like avocado toast that will activate the THC and you get to eat avocado toast.”

One of Dabakis’ colleagues, Senator David Hinkins, said he wasn’t interested in ingesting the plant substance: Put it this way — I’m not going to accept the challenge.” Gayle Ruzicka, a member of the anti-drug coalition Drug Safe Utah, joined Hinkins with a critical assessment of the banned substance. “It is a psychoactive drug, and it’s very dangerous. I don’t think we should make light of that.”

Dabakis reported a mild effect from the substance and plans to vote for the proposition in November. “I survived, it all went well. Vote for Prop 2 because if you don’t, [the legislature] will not pass medical marijuana because the people voted against it.


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Abolishing the DEA Would be Good for Your Health

By Francis Folz | United States

Like most presidents of the 20th century, Richard Nixon was a statist. His policies reflected this throughout his troubled presidency. This, of course, includes the elimination of the gold standard, the institution of wage and price controls, and the creation of unconstitutional federal programs. Most, notably, Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

A History of Harm

Since he created the agency, it has been the most prominent overlord of personal responsibility. America has a  long-held claim that it is the land of the free. However, the DEA has usurped every American’s sovereignty, spending millions of dollars on arresting and detaining Americans. What for? Nixon and the DEA claimed that “subversive substances” were a public enemy.

Another adverse quality of the Drug Enforcement Agency is their stifling of medical research on prohibited drugs. From cannabis to LSD, they restrict the ability to research clear health benefits. Here are a few examples of how the DEA restrains medical progress, despite the potential to assuage many Americans’ suffering.

Cannabis and the DEA

The United States has recognized cannabis as a medicine since 1996. Despite this, the DEA’s resistance to reefer and science has been robust. While numerous studies over the past few decades have proven the benefits of marijuana, there is still much more ground to cover. 

For example, it took until 1990 for scientists to discover cannabinoid receptors within the human brain. Cannabis’s designation as a schedule one substance since 1971 has been the most formidable obstacle to delving into marijuana’s myriad of health benefits. Interestingly, the state prohibited the drug far before they even knew of these receptors.

All schedule one illicit drugs, according to the DEA, are dangerous for consumption, highly addictive, and possess no medical value. First of all, it is unconstitutional for the federal government to even create a ranking such as this. But going beyond that, it is absurd for them to consider marijuana a schedule one narcotic.

More than half of all states have some form of medical marijuana, and even the federal government holds a patent for medical marijuana. Furthermore, 85% of Americans believe cannabis should be medically legal. Thus, many wonder why the state still refuses to recognize the drug’s health benefits.

Psilocybin Treatments

Though hard to believe, magic mushrooms, like cannabis, have possessed medicinal and cultural merit for quite a while. However, in the 1970’s, Timothy Leary, a prominent member of the 60’s counter-culture movement, conducted a study called the Concord Prison Experiment. In his study, he distributed psychedelic mushrooms coupled with assisted group therapy to prisoners. He then measured recidivism rates to test the effects of psilocybin-induced treatment. Initially, the results were fruitful, reducing the recidivism rate by 50 percent. 

Another trailblazing psilocybin study conducted in the 1960’s is the “Good Friday Experiment”. Led by doctorate student Walter Pahnke, two groups of theology students attended Good Friday service. Pahnke gave one group the mushrooms and left the other as a control. The objective was to assess whether or not psilocybin could deepen the religious experience. 

As theorized, all members of the psilocybin group reported a substantially more profound experience than the members of the control. These results, as well as others, further discredit the DEA’s claim that psilocybin is a dangerous, addictive substance with no health or therapeutic benefit.

LSD: Lost Past and Lost Potential

In 1938, Swiss scientist Albert Holfmann successfully separated the molecule lysergic acid diethylamide while studying ergot in his laboratory. Ever since his bicycle ride home transformed into a trip of a lifetime, scientists have experimented with LSD, eager to learn of its usefulness. Scientists aren’t the only ones intrigued by the compound. Some historians believe LSD may have been at the crux of the Salem Witch Trials. One plausible explanation is that the women may have ingested ergot, a fungus found on wheat, which contains the LSD.

Although the DEA continues to categorize acid as a perilous substance with no benefit, health or otherwise, to our well-being, the scientific community continues to prove otherwise. Acid is infamous for its ability to stimulate the imagination and to make users more creative and insightful. Other studies conclude that LSD alleviates anxiety, especially amongst the terminally ill. 

But perhaps the most appalling aspect of the DEA’s tyrannical stronghold over the substance is that bromine, a compound identical to acid without the psychedelic-induced trip, has repeatedly reduced cluster headaches, which are intensified migraines notorious for their painful nature. However, since bromine closely resembles LSD, researchers are often unable to further tests bromine’s inexplicable ability to relieve the agony of the horrendous headaches, leaving sufferers helpless and in excruciating misery. 

The DEA, through regulation, is a great threat to the well-being and freedom of Americans. Ending this agency, and Nixon’s failed drug war along with it, would bring a new age of research and medicinal gains. Only through abolishing the DEA can we reap these clear health benefits.


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