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The convicted mastermind behind Silk Road, a Deep Web marketplace that at one time was bustling with anonymous narcotics transactions, was sentenced to life in prison in a U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan on Friday
Ross Ulbricht, 31, received his life sentence after a giving a final, tearful plea for leniency. In February, he was found guilty on seven counts, including drug trafficking, engaging in a criminal enterprise and money laundering.
Silk Road was not the first anonymous Internet black market, but its incorporation of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin helped the business model to flourish like no other. When the authorities shut down Silk Road in 2013, it had hosted more than 1.5 million purchases over the course of nearly three years.
Silk Road’s success helped lift the veil on the mysterious Deep Web, but also led to the unregulated bazaar’s demise. Its rapid growth captured worldwide attention. This popularity could have led the prosecution to request that the judge make an example of Ulbricht.
Ahead of his sentencing, prosecutors sent Judge Katherine Forrest a 16-page letter asking that he be given “a lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum” of 20 years, “to send a clear message.”
“Ulbricht’s conviction is the first of its kind, and his sentencing is being closely watched,” the letter reads. “The Court thus has an opportunity to send a clear message to anyone tempted to follow his example that the operation of these illegal enterprises comes with severe consequences.”
Ulbricht also sent a letter to the judge, containing a seemingly heartfelt plea.
“I created Silk Road because…I believed at the time that people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted as long as they weren’t hurting anyone else,” he wrote. “I’ve learned from Silk Road that when you give people freedom, you don’t know what they’ll do with it.… Silk Road turned out to be a very naive and costly idea that I deeply regret.”
“I’ve had my youth, and I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age,” he concludes. “Please leave a small light at the end of the tunnel, an excuse to stay healthy, an excuse to dream of better days ahead, and a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker.”
Ulbricht still awaits trial in Maryland, where he faces murder-for-hire charges.
By Lauren Walker 5/29/15 at 4:11 PM
Ross Ulbricht, the alleged criminal mastermind behind Silk Road, a website that allowed users to anonymously buy and sell illegal drugs and weapons online, has been sentenced in court on May 29, 2015. Ulbricht family…
Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul says he’ll try to block last-ditch efforts Sunday to renew NSA and other anti-terrorist and surveillance programs.
“I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program,” Paul, also a 2016 presidential candidate, said Saturday. “I am ready and willing to start the debate on how we fight terrorism without giving up our liberty.”
The Libertarian-minded Paul led a filibuster-like effort over the Memorial Day weekend that helped block legislation to extend federal surveillance efforts but suggested upon leaving the Senate chambers that he might reconsider.
“It depends,” he said. “Sometimes things change as deadlines approach.”
Barring a last-minute deal in Congress, three post-Sept. 11 surveillance laws used against spies and terrorists will expire when Sunday turns into Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called back the upper chamber for a rare Sunday session to decide on whether to accept a House-passed bill that extends the programs. Congress would then send the measure to President Obama to sign before midnight.
The House’s USA Freedom Act passed overwhelmingly in the Republican-controlled chamber but fell three votes short of the 60 needed to proceed in the Senate. And efforts in the upper chamber to extend the current law also have failed.
Much of the debate has focuses on the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ telephone calling records, authorized under one of the expiring provisions, Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
Independent evaluations have cast doubt on that program’s importance, and even law enforcement officials say in private that losing this ability would not carry severe consequences.
Yet the fight over those records has jeopardized other surveillance programs that have broad, bipartisan support and could fall victim to congressional gridlock.
The FBI uses Section 215 to collect other business records tied to specific terrorism investigations.
A separate section in the post-9/11 Patriot Act allows the FBI to eavesdrop, via wiretaps, on suspected terrorists or spies who discard phones to dodge surveillance. A third provision, targeting "lone wolf" attackers, has never been used and thus may not be missed if it lapses.
If the Freedom Act becomes law, the business-records provision and the roving-wiretap authority would return immediately. The NSA would resume collecting American telephone records for a six-month period while shifting to a system of searching phone company records case by case.
If no agreement is reached, all the provisions will expire.
A third possibility is a temporary extension of current law while lawmakers work out a deal, but House members have expressed opposition.
“I have fought for several years now to end the illegal spying of the NSA on ordinary Americans,” Paul also said in a statement released Saturday. “Let me be clear: I acknowledge the need for a robust intelligence agency and for a vigilant national security. I believe we must fight terrorism. … But we do not need to give up who we are to defeat them.”
Failure to pass the legislation would mean new barriers for the government in domestic, national-security investigations, at a time when intelligence officials say the threat at home is growing.
Government and law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have said in recent days that letting the wiretap and business records provisions expire would undercut the FBI’s ability to investigate terrorism and espionage.
Lynch said it would mean "a serious lapse in our ability to protect the American people." Clapper said in a statement Friday that prompt passage by the Senate of the House bill "is the best way to minimize any possible disruption of our ability to protect the American people."
And President Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to accuse opponents of hijacking the debate for political reasons. "Terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIL aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow, and we shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep us safe," he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.
Civil liberties activists say the pre-Sept. 11 law gives the FBI enough authority to do its job. To bolster their case, they cite a newly released and heavily blacked out report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog that examined the FBI’s use up to 2009 of business record collection under Section 215.
"The government has numerous other tools, including administrative and grand jury subpoenas, which would enable it to gather necessary information," in terrorism investigations, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement.
Section 215 allows the FBI to serve a secret order requiring a business to hand over records relevant to a terrorism or espionage investigation. The FBI uses the authority "fewer than 200 times a year," Director James Comey said last week.
The inspector general’s report said it was used in "investigations of groups comprised of unknown members and to obtain information in bulk concerning persons who are not the subjects of or associated with an authorized FBI investigation."
But from 2007 to 2009, the report said, none of that material had cracked a specific terrorism case.
The report analyzed several cases, but most of the details are blacked out. In some cases, the FBI agent pronounced the 215 authority "useful" or "effective," but the context and detail were censored.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Another Perspective Pot Possibilities and Problems Banking on legal marijuana is proving dicy, especially thanks to the feds.
By Ross Kaminsky – 5.26.15
Often the first thing I’m asked when traveling outside of Colorado is a half-question half-joke about how many people in the state I now call home are stoned. Although I’m pro-legalization, I’ve never touched marijuana and it seems as if I’m not alone: even though the state passed — by a 10-percent margin — a constitutional amendment in 2012 legalizing “recreational” (but still highly regulated) marijuana sale and use, sales tax receipts have underperformed expectations.
I have more context than the average American on this issue: I used to live in Amsterdam. In that wonderful city — where, I repeat, I never touched the stuff — you drink coffee at cafés but at “coffee shops” you ingest marijuana, whether by smoking or eating cookies or brownies or by who knows whatever clever delivery system the 21st century has on offer. What I noticed the few times I was in a coffee shop with friends or even just walking by The Bulldog was that the majority of the patrons were not Dutch.
I suspect the same is happening here, with marijuana tourism fueling a substantial fraction of the recreational pot sales in the state. One company in Colorado’s fledgling pot tourism industry offers four-hour tours during which participants visit dispensaries and “grow” operations, “enjoy free sampling on the cannabis friendly luxury party bus” and “end our day with a smoke out…with delicious munchies, ganja and drinks.”
It sounds like a bad ’70s movie but this is serious business which other states are watching closely, wondering whether the potential public revenue and private employment benefits are worth the cost and effort of regulation, of reforming state banking laws and pushing for parallel federal reforms, of how to deal with “edibles” (one of the biggest post-legalization issues in Colorado) and the impact of legalization on children — including everything from accidental ingestion to the prescription of high-CBD strains such as “Charlotte’s Web” to treat seizure disorders. (CBDs are pharmacologically active ingredients in marijuana but do not get you “high,” a feeling created by another chemical called THC. Many high-CBD strains are specifically engineered to be low in THC.)
Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of families have moved to Colorado seeking help and hope in the smoke or oil of what the federal government still classifies as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that according to Uncle Sam it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” While pot is on Schedule I, meaning that doing medical research on it is nearly impossible, drugs on Schedule II — laughably categorized as less dangerous and more useful than weed — include oxycodone, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
Politicians outside of Colorado are starting to pay attention. Three U.S. senators, Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and, not surprisingly, Rand Paul (R-KY), have introduced the CAREERS Act which would, among other things, move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II within the Controlled Substances Act, remove CBD from the definition of marijuana (thus removing high-CBD low-THC strains from current regulation as controlled substances), abate the risk of federal prosecution for marijuana-related activities that are legal under state law, and prevent banks or banking regulators from discriminating against marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under state law.
The banking issue is critical: Without an ability to deposit the cash from its sales at a bank, a legal marijuana business becomes an obvious target for violent crime while being tempted toward tax evasion. But banks, being federally regulated, are wary of becoming involved with a business selling a Schedule I substance directly to consumers.
Guidance issued last year by the Treasury’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) did not help given its laundry list of burdensome requirements for banks including “reviewing the license application (and related documentation) submitted by the business for a state license to operate its marijuana-related business” and “ongoing monitoring of publicly available sources for adverse information about the business.” What bank manager is going to want to deal with all that and still face the risk of an officious federal regulator saying that the bank has abetted money laundering?
A Colorado-approved application for a marijuana- and hemp-related credit union has been sitting at the Federal Reserve for six months, waiting for approval of a Fed “master account” that it would need to operate. One of the backers of the credit union says that he hopes the Fed will act within the next few weeks as it has no legal basis on which to deny approval.
Last month, an Oregon-based bank that had begun to offer similar services in Colorado not only canceled those plans but, due to the cost of regulatory compliance, said it would close the accounts of businesses that had thought they’d found a banking home. As the bank’s CEO noted, those people would probably need to take their money in cash since “I can’t think that a cashier’s check would be of any help to them.” I bet the Bandidos would love to know the dates of those transactions.
In February, the IRS fined a Denver dispensary for not electronically paying employee withholding taxes. When the company argued that it could not pay electronically because it could not get a bank account, the IRS denied its appeal even though the firm’s taxes are paid by the due date (and in cash, of course) directly at the local IRS office.
The national implications of Colorado’s marijuana legalization don’t end with banking. Bordering states such as Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are none too happy to have marijuana coming into their states. Since they can’t stop every car driving east on I-70, the latter two states have filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of the United States arguing that “The Constitution and the federal anti-drug laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local pro-drug policies and licensed distribution schemes throughout the country which conflict with federal laws” and that “In passing and enforcing Amendment 64, the State of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the United States Congress.”
Colorado’s new Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, recently filed a brief with the Court asking for summary dismissal of the suit, saying that “The Plaintiff States’ attempt to selectively manipulate Colorado’s marijuana laws—leaving legalization intact but eliminating large swaths of state regulatory power—is a dangerous use of both the Supremacy Clause and the Court’s original jurisdiction, and it is unlikely to redress the Plaintiff States’ alleged injuries.” This less than neighborly conflict is only possible because of the senseless federal position on marijuana.
Congress has a particular problem now that the District of Columbia has — with a stunning 70 percent of the voters in support — legalized pot. Perhaps a little Maui Waui might make legislators get along better, or at least make C-SPAN a lot more fun for the rest of us to watch.
I don’t smoke pot and I warn my young children away from it. But the genie of marijuana legalization is not going back into the bottle, nor should it in a free society. All jokes aside, Colorado is leading the way in understanding both the benefits and perils of legal pot and of its regulatory framework. Other states, rather than stamping their feet and running to the feds, should watch this laboratory of democracy and learn from our success and our temporary failures.
The prison system in the United States is a profit-making industry. Private corporations operate over 200 facilities nationwide and are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Prison privatization in its current form began in 1984 as a result of the War on Drugs. While crime rates otherwise remained steady dating back to 1925, the number of arrests quickly exploded. While the War on Drugs initially had a small impact on incarceration, it was President Reagan’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that kick started the prison boom.
CCA houses over 80,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities across the US.
From 1970 to 2005, the prison population rose 700 percent, while violent crime remained steady or declined. Between 1990 and 2009, the populations of private prisons shot up 1,600 percent. Today, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world – 754 inmates per 100k residents as of 2008. This is roughly 600% that of the rest of the civilized world, with England and Wales having 148, and Australia 126 inmates per 100k residents. As of 2010, private corporations house over 99,000 inmates in 260 facilities nationwide.
Corrections Corp. of America and other private contractors became members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit 501(c)(3) association that advocates “tough on crime” legislation. In their 2010 report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corp. of America discussed how drug policy reform threatens their business model:
The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.
To ensure those pieces of legislation aren’t passed, Corrections Corp. of America spent $970,000 and GEO Group spent $660,000 lobbying Congress in 2010 alone. In Corrections Corp. of America’s Feb 2011 press release, CEO Damon Hininger stated, “…we are pleased our populations have remained strong, in excess of the 80,000 inmate milestone we surpassed late in 2010.” With the 3.2% increase in inmate population over the previous year, Corrections Corp. of America was able to make $511.26M profit, earning their CEO over $3,000,000 in compensation.
Private prison proponents claim that private corporations are able to provide the same service more efficiently than the government. However, according to the Department of Justice’s “Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons” report, private prisons offer at best a 1% cost savings over their government operated counterparts, while at the same time having 49% more assaults on staff and 65% more assaults on other inmates.
Phoning in Profit
Corporations owning correctional facilities is not the only way that prisons and the War on Drugs have been used as a source of income. For instance, even in government-ran facilities, inmates and their families are regularly subject to price gouging by phone carriers. While the average cost of a phone call in the United States is 3 cents per minute, inmates and their families end up paying between 16 cents and $5.00 per minute. The profits are then split between the carrier and the government body who awarded the contract. In fact, it is not uncommon for the government body to receive a signing bonus from the carrier, like $17M in the case of Los Angeles County. Unlike the public, the Federal Communications Commission has no safeguards against price gouging when it applies to those behind bars.
In the federal prison system, all able-bodied inmates who are not a security risk are forced to work for UNICOR or another prison job. UNICOR, also known as Federal Prison Industries, is a government-created corporation that provides many products and services, including clothing, electronics, furniture, data entry and military hardware. UNICOR enjoys a “mandatory source clause” that according to US laws & regulations, forces all federal agencies with the exception of the Department of Defense to purchase products offered by UNICOR instead of the private sector. However, despite the Department of Defense not being required to purchase its products, many defense contractors take advantage of the cheap labor offered by prisons. For example, inmates make as little as 23 cents an hour manufacturing components used in Patriot missiles, which then sell for $5.9 million apiece. Prisoners also made helmets for the military, until 44,000 defective units were recalled due to their inability to stop bullets. Despite its shortcomings, UNICOR generated $854.3M in sales for fiscal year 2008 – of which 4% went to inmate salaries. Much of this money later ends up in the hands of the local government, as the inmates use their salary to pay for phone calls home. In New York, inmates refusing work assignments have been known to be placed in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day until work is resumed. At the same time, it is illegal to import products made using prison labor into the United States.
- Wikipedia: Incarceration in the United States
- Raw Story: US prison population to add 200,000 convicts by 2011: study
- Salon: How private prisons game the system
- Wikipedia: Private prisons in the United States
- NPR: Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law
- Thomson Reuters: Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-K (CCA)
- OpenSecrets: Lobbying Spending Database – Corrections Corp of America, 2010
- OpenSecrets: Lobbying Spending Database – GEO Group, 2010
- Corrections Corp. of America Press Release: 2010 fourth quarter and full-year financial results
- Forbes: Damon T. Hininger – President, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Corrections Corporation of America
- US Dept of Justice: Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons
- Detroit Free Press: Hike in prisoner phone rates will cut off many family ties
- The Guardian: The cynical world of America’s private prisons
- USA Today: Inmate families paying high phone rates in California jails
- NationMaster: Media Statistics > Average cost of local call (most recent) by country
- Wikipedia: Federal Prison Industries
- Congressional Research Service: Federal Prison Industries
- Wired: Prisoners Help Build Patriot Missiles
- ArmyTimes: Inmate labor used to make recalled helmets
- Businessweek: There’s Prison Labor In America, Too
- US Government Printing Office: 19 U.S.C. 1307 – Convict-made goods; importation prohibited
- The Guardian: This revolting trade in human lives is an incentive to lock people up
A Couple from Cottage Grove, Minnesota discovered a man living inside a secret laboratory inside their basement. On Friday, May 15th 2015 officers with the Warrington County Sheriffs Office went to the Morgan family’s home after receiving a call reporting a possible break in. When the officers pulled up they saw the Morgan Family standing by the road.
“They ran up to us and said they heard a man shouting inside their basement and that’s when they called it in to 911” Said Captain Bruce Normans with the Warrington County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers say that they could hear the man yelling in the basement the moment they entered the Morgan’s home. But when they moved cautiously into the basement they saw nothing. However they could hear banging sounds coming from behind the northern wall of the Morgan family’s basement, specifically echoing from behind a large storage cabinet.
“It was a very odd situation. We assumed the possibility that a vagrant may have been trapped behind the cabinet and needed help” Officer Jim Catelli told Channel 6 news.
When the Officers moved the large metal cabinet they uncovered an entry way to a large hidden room in the basement. The room was full of various science equipment along with a terrified, elderly man. The 83 year old man was identified as Dr. Winston Corrigan, a chemistry professor from the University of Minnesota who went missing in the fall of 1984 and was a previous resident of the home.
“He had clearly been living down there for a long time and had suffered severe psychological trauma.. probably from not socializing with anyone for a while…or from ingesting a lot of the drugs… I don’t know if he had been living down there since the 80’s but I wouldn’t doubt it” Said EMT personnel Landon Choler.
Dr. Winston is currently being held at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis for observation. He will eventually be sent to the state psychiatric ward in Prairie Hills Clinic where he will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine the extent of any psychological damage and possibly reintroduced to modern society.
“I just can’t believe it….it’s just so odd. The family that used to live there moved because they said the house was haunted so I guess that makes sense now.” Said a neighbor who had lived next door for 33 years.
The Police recovered over $500,000 worth of lab equipment stolen from the University, along with 3 hand guns, an assault rifle, 50 years’ worth of military grade rations and twelve 55 gallon barrels (including three almost empty barrels) of what DEA labs have identified as pure liquid Lysergic acid diethylamide, a powerful hallucinogenic drug more commonly known as the street name LSD or Acid.
It is not yet known if or when Dr. Winston will be convicted of any crime.
shereekrider Latest News CARERS Act, events, HR 1538, Jeff Merkley, Ladybud Admin / Activism, law, medical, medical cannabis, montana, News & Editorial, NORML, Paul Armentano, Research Expansion, SB 683, Steve Daines, The Compassionate Access, The War Isn't Over / and Respect States, US Department of Veterans Affairs, US Senate Appropriations Committee, veterans 0
May 26, 2015
via NORML’s Deputy Director, Paul Armentano:
The majority of the US Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday cast votes in favor of expanding medical cannabis access to United States veterans. The committee vote marks the first time that a majority of any body of the US Senate has ever decided in favor of increased cannabis access.
Committee members voted 18 to 12 in favor of The Veterans Equal Access Amendment, sponsored by Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. It was added in committee to a must-pass military construction and veterans affairs spending bill (the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act). The bill is “certain” to pass on the Senate floor, according to a Drug Policy Alliance press release.
Weeks ago, House members narrowly killed a similar amendment in the House version of the Appropriations Act by a floor vote of 210 to 213. Once the Senate version of the act is passed by the Senate floor, House and Senate leaders will need to reconcile the two versions.
The Daines/Merkley amendment permits physicians affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recommend cannabis therapy to veterans in states that allow for its therapeutic use. Under current federal law, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out written documentation forms authorizing their patients to participate in state-sanctioned medical cannabis programs.
Stand-alone legislation (HR 667) to permit VA physicians to recommend cannabis therapy is pending in the US House of Representatives, Committee on Veterans Affairs: Health Subcommittee. A similar provision is also included in Senate Bill 683/HR 1538, The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act.
NORML coordinated its 2015 legislative ‘fly-in’ and lobby day in Washington, DC this past week, where many attendees visited with US Senators and urged them to vote for the Daines/Merkley amendment, among other pending reform legislation. Archived presentations from the conference are online here.
To learn and/or to contact your elected officials in regard to other pending marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
Scientists have begun speculating that the root cause of disease conditions such as migraines and irritable bowel syndrome may be endocannabinoid deficiency.
Source: Alternet, 3.24.10
For several years I have postulated that marijuana is not, in the strict sense of the word, an intoxicant.
As I wrote in the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green, 2009), the word ‘intoxicant’ is derived from the Latin noun toxicum (poison). It’s an appropriate term for alcohol, as ethanol (the psychoactive ingredient in booze) in moderate to high doses is toxic (read: poisonous) to healthy cells and organs.
Of course, booze is hardly the only commonly ingested intoxicant. Take the over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen (Tylenol). According to the Merck online medical library, acetaminophen poisoning and overdose is “common,” and can result in gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract) “within hours” and hepatotoxicity (liver damage) “within one to three days after ingestion.” In fact, less than one year ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called for tougher standards and warnings governing the drug’s use because “recent studies indicate that unintentional and intentional overdoses leading to severe hepatotoxicity continue to occur.”
By contrast, the therapeutically active components in marijuana — the cannabinoids — appear to be remarkably non-toxic to healthy cells and organs. This notable lack of toxicity is arguably because cannabinoids mimic compounds our bodies naturally produce — so-called endocannabinoids — that are pivotal for maintaining proper health and homeostasis.
In fact, in recent years scientists have discovered that the production of endocannabinoids (and their interaction with the cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body) play a key role in the regulation of proper appetite, anxiety control, blood pressure, bone mass, reproduction, and motor coordination, among other biological functions.
Just how important is this system in maintaining our health? Here’s a clue: In studies of mice genetically bred to lack a proper endocannabinoid system the most common result is premature death.
Armed with these findings, a handful of scientists have speculated that the root cause of certain disease conditions — including migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other functional conditions alleviated by clinical cannabis — may be an underlying endocannabinoid deficiency.
Now, much to my pleasant surprise, Fox News Health columnist Chris Kilham has weighed in on this important theory.
Are You Cannabis Deficient?
via Fox News
If the idea of having a marijuana deficiency sounds laughable to you, a growing body of science points at exactly such a possibility.
… [Endocannabinoids] also play a role in proper appetite, feelings of pleasure and well-being, and memory. Interestingly, cannabis also affects these same functions. Cannabis has been used successfully to treat migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and glaucoma. So here is the seventy-four thousand dollar question. Does cannabis simply relieve these diseases to varying degrees, or is cannabis actually a medical replacement in cases of deficient [endocannabinoids]?
… The idea of clinical cannabinoid deficiency opens the door to cannabis consumption as an effective medical approach to relief of various types of pain, restoration of appetite in cases in which appetite is compromised, improved visual health in cases of glaucoma, and improved sense of well being among patients suffering from a broad variety of mood disorders. As state and local laws mutate and change in favor of greater tolerance, perhaps cannabis will find it’s proper place in the home medicine chest.
Perhaps. Or maybe at the very least society will cease classifying cannabis as a ‘toxic’ substance when its more appropriate role would appear to more like that of a supplement.
J&C readers 12:14 p.m. EDT May 22, 2015
Question: Bill Levin, an Indianapolis resident, said he plans to hold the first services of his newly created, marijuana-devoted First Church of Cannabis on July 1, the day Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act goes into effect, to test the new law. How should police and the state handle the situation?
• They should ignore it. The war on (some) drugs has been an unqualified failure, needlessly destroying countless lives and trashing the precepts of our Constitution. Considering that the original federal RFRA was passed to protect the religious use of peyote, I think this is a perfect response.
• Arrest him, and let him try his defense. I assume that’s what he’s expecting. Surely he’s not as stupid as the people who attacked RFRA as if it gave carte blanche.
• This is why we have the Establishment Clause: the minute you start getting the government mucking around with religion — as RFRA does — you get into all sorts of nasty corners, like this one. The law is pretty clear the state cannot interfere with their religious behavior, so this this is an example of "hoist on one’s own petard" in action.
• Presumably he will be supported by all Christians who supported the law in the first place. The police should go investigate real crimes. Be careful what you wish for, Christians, you might get it.
Mark D. Rumps
• I don’t think drug use is covered under the law. I say bust him.
• Well, they wanted to protect "religious freedom" with this law, didn’t they? Since when should the government determine what qualifies as a religion? This is what happens when we try to mix church and state.
• Abe Lincoln asked, "If you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs would it have?" His answer: "Four. Calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg." Calling a criminal enterprise a church does not make it a church and should be punished as a crime.
• If you think this case is a problem, be glad they amended this monstrosity, or Indiana would be headed toward daily media humiliation. This case is directly similar to the one that started the federal RFRA.
• I thought the new law was to protect the religious rights of all people? How about the Flat Earth Society? I have it from good authority that in the Star Trek Universe, there is a Flat Universe Society.
Furman A. Powell
• The media created the controversy by exaggerating RFRA to make Gov. Mike Pence look bad. They got their wish. Liberals tend to be the master of unintended consequences, so most rational Indiana residents already expected this type of action. Expect more legislation, more unintended consequences, more wasted tax dollars.
• Join them. Sarcastically, it’s pretty much like I said when you asked a very similar question last December before the state legislature convened: "You’ll see recreation marijuana legalized long before selling ‘to go’ alcohol on a Sunday."
• Any law enforcement or state officials that show up should "take communion" just like everyone else attending the service.
• Close the church down, it is illegal in the state of Indiana.
• Shut him down and treat him to a period of time in jail. He is trying an illegal scam, and it will not work.
• The exact opposite of how they probably will handle it. Honest to goodness.
• I think it is obvious — if it fits the law, then leave them alone.
• This is what no one needs. This is Indiana, for goodness sake. Obviously, one of the more conservative states and this sort of weirdness only makes the underlying message more difficult to get out and for the public and for businesses to take seriously.
• If he is following the RFRA, and if the act is to allow religious freedom, what can they do? There is nothing in the law to prevent this church from practicing the rites of its religion.
• Let Bill worship his idol, pot. But, should Bill or any of his followers hurt someone when "all hopped up on dope," the penalty is clear. Bill claims no faith in religion; me, either. My faith is in Jesus, who said, "No one comes to the father but through me."
• Lock them up and throw away the key.
• The police and the state should attend the church of their choice.
David B. Dobbin
• Why should the police or the state get involved unless their newfound religion is infringing on someone’s rights? The less we have Big Brother controlling our thoughts and actions, the more liberty and freedom citizens can preserve.
• Under the law for Indiana and marijuana, this would be a criminal act. Indiana police and the state should treat this fairly, as any one who breaks the law. I would hope the dealer’s arrested and faces Indiana courts, as anyone who commits a criminal act.
The First Qatar International Anti-Drug Forum will start today, under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, at Sheraton Doha.
The two-day forum is organised by the Ministry of Interior on the theme “International experiences in the detection of trafficking routes and itineraries and methods of
High-level international figures in the anti-drug trafficking field will participate in the forum. They include Interpol secretary-general Jürgen Stock, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) executive director Yury Fedotov, Council of Arab Interior Ministers secretary general Dr Mohamed bin Ali Koman, Arab Office on Drugs director Brigadier General Issa Qaqish Hatem Ali, and GCC UNODC office head
Justice Hatem Ali.
Delegates from more than 22 countries and many regional and international bodies and organisations will also attend the forum.
Lt Colonel Ibrahim Mohammed al-Samih, chairman of the scientific committee of the forum, said that heads of anti-drug bodies in GCC countries will participate in the forum along with directors of coasts and borders security and customs and port authorities. A number of representatives from Arab countries and South, East and West Asia, Europe, America and Africa will
also take part.
“More than 250 officials and experts are expected to attend this international event, where they will discuss more than 16 papers presented by a group of specialists in the field of counter-narcotics from around the world. The discussion of these papers will bring some of the findings and recommendations that will contribute in countering the drug problem and uncovering drug trafficking routes,” he said.
Exclusive — Sen. Rand Paul Visits Secret Room To Read Obamatrade, Calls For Public Release Of Deal Text
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
—an opponent of the secretive Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would fast-track the Pacific Rim trade deal Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—went inside the secret room inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning to read the TPP text and told Breitbart News exclusively afterwards that he believes President Barack Obama should make it public now.
The deal’s text is kept in a room behind double doors that each have signs: “No Public Or Media Beyond This Point.”
“It’s done like you’re going in to read a classified briefing though it’s not actually ‘classified.’ It’s called ‘confidential,’” Paul said in an interview with Breitbart News outside the room after reading it. Paul and his legal staff spent about 45 minutes in the room reading the deal’s text.
“I think the staff signed an agreement [which didn’t include a non-disclosure]—they signed in, it’s a normal procedure,” he explained. “But I wasn’t required to sign in.”
When asked for some of the details that are inside the TPP agreement, Paul said he’s not allowed to tell us that. But he did say the secret trade deal that his Kentucky colleague, Senate Majority Leader
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
, wants to rush through the Senate is about 800 pages long. He added he plans to seek additional information from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office—including a briefing from them—and suspects that the text he read isn’t even the final version of the deal.
“I think I am not supposed to reveal the details of it, but I can tell you it was about 800 pages long,” Paul said.
I think while we’ve gotten at least some headway in understanding what’s in it, I think it raises more questions that will require more research to fully understand what’s in it. We’re going to pursue that with someone from the U.S. Trade Representative—we’re going to pursue more information from them. Some of the questions are whether we’re seeing the final agreement or this is in the interim agreement before the final agreement. That’s a question we still have. I have a feeling that what we’re seeing is a work product, not a final.
Paul said he thinks the “secretive” process hurts the “cause” of TPA and TPP advocates, and is calling on the Obama administration to publicly release the deal’s details before future votes on the matter in the U.S. Senate.
“The thing is is that I think it actually hurts their cause by making it so secretive—while I can’t discuss the details of what was in there because of them calling it secret, I didn’t see anything that I didn’t think couldn’t be made public with a problem,” Paul said. “If so, I’m missing something because we read through 800 pages of it and we didn’t see anything that I couldn’t conclude couldn’t be made public.”
Paul said he thinks the secretive process makes it look like the government has “something to hide” and that he thinks if Obama opened up the process it’d make it easier for several Senators—and the American people—to truly understand what it is they’re voting on.
“I think it would make a difference for some folks, myself included, if they were to make it less secret because they think that really to vote on things that there’s a suspicion among the American public that if someone is making something secret they’ve got something to hide—particularly from the government’s point of view—so I’d like to see the process opened up,” Paul said.
Paul, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, stands alongside most of the rest of the field in opposition to Obamatrade. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina compared the secretive process to Obamacare’s passage in the early days of this president’s administration. Dr. Ben Carson also called for more transparency, as did Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is concerned with the deal’s impacts on American workers.
On the other side, Sens.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
are in favor of the deal—even though it’s unclear if either has, like Paul now has, visited the secret room to read the text. Both could. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are also in favor of the deal, but wouldn’t be allowed through the doors to read it.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
, the emerging conservative kingmaker and the leading intellectual conservative in Congress, has made an identical call to what Paul has for more transparency from the Obama administration.
Sessions, in a “critical alert” his office issued publicly and to other members on Capitol Hill before the recently-failed votes to begin debate on TPA fast track authority, listed out five “questions the White House will not answer.”
The questions the White House is refusing to be transparent about, Sessions noted, are: “Will it increase or reduce the trade deficit, and by how much? Will it increase or reduce employment and wages, and by how much? Will you make the “living agreement” section public and explain fully its implications? Will China be added to the TPP? Will you pledge not to issue any executive actions, or enter into any future agreements, impacting the flow of foreign workers into the United States?”