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Month: December 2016
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By Tom Angell on December 5th, 2016 at 10:33 am
Don’t count on there being any marijuana votes in the U.S. House next year.
That’s the message that Republican leadership in Congress is sending after blocking a number of cannabis amendments from reaching the House floor earlier this year.
“The chairman has taken a stand against all amendments that are deemed poison pills and that would imperil passage of the final bill,” Caroline Boothe, spokeswoman for House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), told Marijuana.com in an email on Monday.
The Rules Committee is responsible for deciding which submitted amendments are allowed to be considered on the House floor.
In recent years, Congressional leadership has taken up spending bills under relatively open rules whereby almost any amendment could be debated and voted on as long as it was germane to the overall legislation. But due to unrelated disputes over gay rights, gun policy and the right of transgender people to access public bathrooms, House Republicans began locking down the amendment process earlier this year so that only certain approved amendments can come to the floor.
While marijuana law reformers have been able to pass amendments in recent years — such as a rider preventing the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical cannabis laws — the new approach has impeded efforts to demonstrate that there is majority support in Congress for scaling back prohibition.
Earlier this year, for example, the Rules Committee blocked House floor votes on amendments concerning marijuana businesses’ access to banking services and Washington, D.C.’s ability to spend its own money legalizing and regulating cannabis sales. The committee also prevented two measures to expand medical marijuana research from being considered.
But despite Boothe’s reference to “poison pills,” the House approved a version of the banking amendment in 2014 by a vote of 231 – 192, and the overall bill was later passed as well. Similarly, the measure to protect state medical cannabis laws from federal interference was approved with strong bipartisan House votes in 2014 and 2015, and the overall spending bills were also passed once the marijuana measures were attached.
Boothe did not respond to a request for clarification about her boss’s position on the broadly popular medical marijuana measure.
The restricted amendment rules put in place this year left marijuana law reformers much less confident about the ability to enact and extend their legislation, which must be approved each year because appropriations measures only apply to specific fiscal years.
But until now, it was not known that there is in effect a blanket ban on measures concerning cannabis policy.
The notion of an outright prohibition on any marijuana amendments was first reported Monday by Politico Magazine. Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), who has sponsored industrial hemp measures, told the magazine that the new operating procedure is “an affront to regular order” and “a travesty to our democracy.”
As a result of the inability to take marijuana votes on the House floor, reformers must increasingly rely on the Senate to include cannabis language in its versions of appropriations bills. If efforts succeed there, it is left up to conference committees of members from both chambers to decide whether to include marijuana language in the final enacted versions of spending bills.
Current spending levels for the federal government — along with the state medical marijuana protections that are current law — expire this Friday. It is expected that Congress will pass a short-term measure before then extending funding and policy riders until next spring.
But Sessions, who has been selected to continue chairing the Rules Committee for the next Congress, seems poised to continue the policy of blocking marijuana amendments from coming to the House floor. That, combined with uncertainty about how the incoming Trump administration will handle marijuana, leaves advocates in a precarious position even at a time when a growing number of states are ending prohibition.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | December 14, 2016, 8:29PM
| Updated 38 minutes ago.
In a white-walled room deep inside a southwest Santa Rosa building once used to manufacture heart stents, 11 specialized machines to extract concentrated cannabis rumbled, hummed and popped in production for California’s largest legal marijuana manufacturing operation.
Five months ago, law enforcement officers hauled away extraction machines and other equipment worth about $3 million from the Circadian Way facility, halting production and forcing the company, CannaCraft, to address a series of code violations. One of its founders, Dennis Hunter, was briefly jailed.
Since then, California and the city of Santa Rosa have begun embracing cannabis manufacturing with new regulations that allow producers of medical marijuana-infused products to operate openly. And state voters legalized recreational use of marijuana, adding to the system of regulations advocates hope will bring marijuana businesses into the mainstream.
CannaCraft this week received a final level of approval from the city of Santa Rosa to run its multimillion-dollar enterprise, making it the first in the city — and among only a handful of companies statewide — to receive local authorization to manufacture marijuana-infused products for medicinal use. The Santa Rosa plant is the largest cannabis extraction and manufacturing facility in the state, said Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, a Sacramento trade group.
“It’s a sign of how the times have changed when we have local governments in support of manufacturing,” Bradley said. “Santa Rosa is leading the way in the state.”
Operating under the name CannaCraft, the 150-employee organization is a group of companies founded by Hunter, Edward Fussell and others. One company, CBD Guild, handles manufacturing and packaging. Sonoma Lab Works provides testing services, such as tests that detect the presence of pesticides or fungus in cannabis. Critical Solutions builds extraction equipment. CannaCraft is the management, finance and regulatory compliance arm of the organizations.
The Supercritical CO2 Fluid Extraction machines each day produce about 30 to 35 pounds of raw concentrated cannabis, a yellow wax-like substance with a floral odor that when further refined is used to make oils and sprays marketed for a range of medicinal purposes.
On Wednesday, the company brought a group that included several Santa Rosa City Council members, Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, and a representative from Assemblyman Jim Woods’ office among others to tour the facility.
“We want to be the company that helps tear down stigmas for cannabis,” Hunter said to the group during a catered lunch in which they announced plans to hire developmentally disabled adults in a special off-site facility that makes packaging for the company but doesn’t handle cannabis products.
The specter of prosecution still hangs over Hunter, a Rohnert Park resident who was arrested July 15 on suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance, a felony. He was arrested on the morning the company’s facility was raided by a group of officers from Santa Rosa and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Law enforcement seized about $5 million worth of property, including the extraction machines, about $500,000 in cash for payroll and another $1.5 million in products, according to company spokesman Nick Caston.
Hunter was released within about 24 hours, and no charges have been filed.
There is no known lethal dose of marijuana, which means it can’t kill you. But the stuff that gets sprayed or grows organically on pot buds can.
Studies show that marijuana sampled across the US carries unsafe levels of pesticides, mold, fungi, and bacteria. Earlier this year, Colorado recalled hundreds of batches that tested positive for banned pesticides.
It’s unclear how much cannabis, whether purchased legally in a dispensary or bought from a college roommate’s cousin’s friend, is at risk. But as the industry goes mainstream, experts suggest it’s time legal weed gets quality assurance.
Educating consumers on what they’re smoking might be the first step, according to scientists at Steep Hill Labs, a leading cannabis science and technology firm in Berkeley, California.
In 2016, Reggie Gaudino, vice president of scientific operations at Steep Hill, set out on a scientific experiment. He visited three brick-and-mortar dispensaries in the Bay Area and bought at least five samples of cannabis flower from each.
In order to decide which strains to buy, he asked cashiers, called “budtenders,” for their recommendations. He also chose the strains with the highest percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Many patients choose that option from the menu because they believe it will get them the most high, or give them “the most bang for their buck,” Gaudino explains.
It’s unclear if the dispensaries he visited test their products for contaminants at third-party labs — a practice that’s becoming more common as states with newly legalized cannabis roll out regulations.
When Gaudino took the samples back to the lab, he found that 70% of the samples tested positive for pesticide residues. One-third of samples would have failed pesticide regulations in the state of Oregon, which has the most sophisticated system for pesticide-testing of the seven states with fully legalized marijuana.
Fifty percent of the samples that tested positive for pesticides also contained Myclobutanil, a fungicide treatment commonly used on California grapes, almonds, and strawberries. When digested, it’s harmless. But when heated, the chemical turns into hydrogen cyanide, a gas that interferes with the body’s ability to use oxygen normally.
The central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and pulmonary system (lungs) start to fail when exposed to high concentration of the gas.
The news isn’t quite as alarming as it sounds. Donald Land, chief scientific consultant at Steep Hill, tells Business Insider that most people would not be susceptible to falling ill after inhaling a few spores.
However, someone whose immune system is weakened — like a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy or a person infected with HIV — is much more vulnerable to infection upon inhaling contaminated cannabis. Basically, the people who stand to benefit the most from medical marijuana are also the most vulnerable.
The results of Gaudino’s study have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, though Gaudino tells us a white paper is in the works. The lab plans to test an array of other marijuana products, like concentrates and oil cartridges for vaporizer pens, before publishing.
Land and Gaudino explain that, for the most part, the industry is doing the best it can to provide safe pot.
There is no framework on the federal level that dictates how cannabis should be tested or what threshold constitute a failing grade. Most growers and dispensaries in states with legalized marijuana have to hold themselves accountable for verifying the safety of their product.
Some pay third-party labs like Steep Hill to analyze their product for pesticides and contaminants, but most only want to know the THC content of a given strain, Land says. The more potent the weed, the more they can charge for it.
Fewer than 20 states offer some form of testing, according to estimate provided by Land. The states that offer the most widely available marijuana, including California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, have testing facilities — but they don’t all require testing, and regulations can vary on a local level.
More research is needed to understand the health concerns associated with cannabis. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, making it difficult for scientists to acquire the funding and samples needed for study.
In the meantime, Land suggests marijuana patients and recreational users take responsibility for their health by asking their budtender to see a lab report on the strain they wish to buy. They can compare the results with Oregon’s publicly available threshold levels for safe cannabis.
Even if you can’t make out what the report means, the dispensary’s ability to provide documentation is “absolutely better than nothing,” Land says.
December 14, 2016
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this morning made CBD oil a little more federally illegal in a little-noticed bureaucratic maneuver this morning.
Today’s Federal Register (Dec. 14, 2016) contains an item (21 CFR Part 1308) that establishes a new drug code for “marihuana extract.”
“This code,” wrote DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, “will allow DEA and DEA-registered entities to track quantities of this material separately from quantities of marihuana.” The move, the Register entry explained, is meant to bring the US into compliance with international drug-control treaties.
There is no major change in law brought about by the Register item. Rather, it serves to clarify and reinforce the DEA’s position on all cannabis extracts, including CBD oil. That position is: They are all federally illegal Schedule I substances.
CBD oil derived from hemp is now commonly available nationwide via web sites and mail order services. Those operations survive on the assumption that cannabidiol products below the legal threshold for THC percentage in hemp (0.3 percent or less) are technically legal.
Not so, says the DEA.
In the DEA comment on the entry, Rosenberg directly addressed the question: What if it’s only cannabidiol (CBD) and no other cannabinoids? The agency’s response: “For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids. However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code” and therefore remain federally illegal. In other words: The DEA is confident that it can find enough traces of other cannabinoids in your CBD oil to arrest and prosecute. And if they can’t, they still have the option of arresting and prosecuting based on the CBD oil itself.
Is CBD from Cannabis the Same as CBD from Cannabis?
Is your CBD derived from hemp? Doesn’t matter to the DEA. The new extracts classification applies to all “extracts that have been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis and which contain cannabinols and cannabidiols.” Hemp is not a separate genus. (Although it may be a separate species; lot of debate on that point.) Legally speaking, hemp is simply cannabis with no more than 0.3 percent THC content.
The new rule seems to clarify the DEA’s position on hemp-derived CBD, which entered a legal gray area following Congress’ passage of the 2014 farm bill. That legislation allowed certain states to grow hemp in pilot projects, and blocked federal law enforcement authorities (ie, the DEA) from interfering with state agencies, hemp growers, and agricultural research.
What DEA Administrator Rosenberg seems to be saying with this clarification is: You may be able to grow hemp. But if you try to extract CBD oil from it, the DEA considers that a federal crime.
The rule did not contain any hint as to when the DEA will step into the 21st century and stop using the archaic version of the word “marihuana.”
Lead Image: Brennan Linsley/AP
Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (hereafter known as the Patriot Act, because that name is long and dumb)
Data shows Patriot Act used more often to justify drug warrants, not terrorism ones
by Miranda Nelson on September 8th, 2011 at 11:24 AM
New York Magazine has put out an incredibly detailed compendium of 9/11 information on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attacks that left over 3,000 people dead. The September 11 attacks, as you’re well aware, were the impetus (or used as justification, depending on how cynical you are) for pushing through the USA PATRIOT ACT, which was hurriedly signed into law on October 26, 2001.
One of the main focuses of the Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (hereafter known as the Patriot Act, because that name is long and dumb) is Title II, which is all about surveillance. That’s right: even though those dastardly terrorists who hate our freedom came from overseas (as was the rhetoric beaten into the collective consciousness post 9/11), the U.S. government thought it was prudent to pass a bunch of surveillance laws so it could spy on its own citizens.
Let me quote the relevant section before we proceed:
SEC. 213. AUTHORITY FOR DELAYING NOTICE OF THE EXECUTION OF A WARRANT.
…(b) DELAY- With respect to the issuance of any warrant or court order under this section, or any other rule of law, to search for and seize any property or material that constitutes evidence of a criminal offense in violation of the laws of the United States, any notice required, or that may be required, to be given may be delayed if–
(1) the court finds reasonable cause to believe that providing immediate notification of the execution of the warrant may have an adverse result (as defined in section 2705);
Delayed-notice search warrants: we won’t tell you we’re breaking into your house to look around if we think there will be adverse results, like you calling up your terrorist buddies to let them know we’re on to you.
Something seems wrong with this graph (courtesy New York Magazine).
But between 2006 and 2009, do you know how many times the Patriot Act was used to issue delayed-notice warrants relating to terrorists and related activities? That would be a whole 15 times—even though the act mentions the word terrorism 161 times and terrorism 175 times.
Aside: did you know that not a single person has been brought to justice on American soil for those deaths?
In the same time period, New York Magazine reports that 1,618 delayed-notice search warrants were issued in relation to drugs and related activity. If you had any doubts about the true mandate of the Patriot Act, doubt no longer. Congratulations America on using a senseless tragedy to justify targeting marijuana users!
And why am I concluding that these people are primarily low-level marijuana offenders and not cocaine smugglers or meth manufacturers? The statistics on arrests and imprisonment make it clear: in 2006, 829,627 marijuana-related arrests were made in the United States, 89 percent of which were for mere possession. Not for growing or selling. Just for holding onto the stuff. In 2010, 50,383 arrests were made in New York City alone for possession.
The Patriot Act: great for the War on Drugs, bad for anyone who likes to smoke a joint, laughable in regards to stopping terrorism.
Follow Miranda Nelson on Twitter at @charenton_.
(The following article was sent to me by Bruce Cain in about 2008 – I found it today while going through some old mail. It deserves to be re-visited…SK)
The MERP Model for Re-Legalizing Marijuana
This is a recent interview that I (Bruce Cain, Editor of www.newagecitizen.com) did with Krystal Cole of “Neurosoup.”
It is the most exhaustive discussion of the MERP model for Marijuana Re-Legalization to date.
1) Do you believe cannabis should be legalized for all adults in the United States? Why?
A resounding yes! Of course Cannabis should be Re-Legalized for all adults. As for why, let?s start with the some of the stronger common arguments:
(1) Cannabis is one of the safest therapeutic agents on the planet. It is also one of mankind?s old medicinal plants despite being politically placed into the most dangerous ?Class 1? category.
(2) 70 years of prohibition have had little or no effect in stopping use.
(3) It has many therapeutic and palliative properties for people suffering from AIDS/HIV; Glaucoma; MS; etc.
(4) There are no recorded fatal overdoses from the use of Cannabis. That alone should be sufficient. But my personal arguments for Re-Legalizing go much deeper. I think it was Judge Brandeis who once said the most important right, was the right to be left alone. Consensual adult activities should not be the domain of any la w provided those acts do not violate the safety and liberties of other citizens. It?s like the Las Vegas commercials that spew this mantra that ?what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.? What you do within the confines of your own property, given the earlier provisos, is not the business of the state: whether that be local law enforcement or federal drug agencies.
It is so important that we push back against each attempt to chip away our liberties. I will even go one better. I think that all consensual activities should be made legal as a counter weight to all the liberties we have been forced to relinquish in the wake of 911. That way if the state?s intrusive powers uncover a bag of Marijuana, there will be nothing they can do about it. We have to start thinking in terms of ?creative resistance.? My utopian vision is to be sitting on my porch, sharing a joint with a friend, and not having to worry about a police car driving by to ruin our afternoon. And if a police car did drive by I would want to feel comfortable sharing a few tokes with that officer. I want to see a world where people can start feeling good about each other once again.
Before going to the next question let me say something about laws in general. Pythagoras developed the scientific method in order to objectively judge the results of any scientific inquiry. To this end he developed theorems in order to provide a method, a structure, for scientific inquiry. It is really this framework, for scientific inquiry, that has propelled science forward ever since.
As we restructure our legal system I believe there are two important theorems that should receive primary consideration:
(1) The Golden Rule and
(2) The Golden Mean. The Golden Rule is straight forward: ?Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.? The Golden Mean has a number of meanings but basically insists on proportionality in all things. Applying this to our Cannabis laws requires asking 2 questions:
(1) would I feel comfortable accepting the current penalties that are being applied to other Marijuana offenders and
(2) Are the penalties proportional to penalties for other drugs: are the penalties in proportion to the danger they pose to society?
2) What steps do we need to take, as a country, to decriminalize cannabis?
Ultimately I would fully implement the MERP model for ?regulating? Marijuana. But let me first describe the prerequisite change the needs to take place prior to implementing MERP.
The Achilles heal to ?Marijuana Prohibition? is the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. We need to force our representatives to take Cannabis completely off the schedule. Once that is done the federal government will no longer have an excuse to meddle in the drug policies of individual states. The raids on Medical Marijuana dispensaries would immediately cease. But, at a grass roots level, people have got to stop being so damn complacent. Con front your representatives when they come to town. Organize with local, state and national groups. Insist that the national groups get behind the MERP model for Re-Legalization.
And what is MERP you ask? It is a short way of saying the ?Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy (MRP) Project.? But that is a big mouthful of syllables. So I like to refer to this model as MERP in order to condense the concept down to a single syllable.
The MERP Model can be succinctly described as follows ?
The MERP model of Marijuana Re-Legalization would minimally allow non-commercial cultivation, by adults above the age of 18, to be done without any form of government taxation, regulation or other interference.? The ?moneyed? drug reform organizations (e.g., those supported by Soros, Sperling and Lewis) contend that this is far too radical. But it really is not significantly different than the way we allow US citizens to produce beer and wine within there homes. Home beer and wine production is neither taxed nor significantly regulated.
And many activists need to be weaned from this false notion that the government should get to tax everything. If they don?t tax your tomatoes or your beer, why should they be allowed to tax your Cannabis? The MERP Model does not preclude commercial licensing. But it forbids the government from interfering with personal cultivation as specified above. In doing this we have, in effect, a mechanism to check government greed. At about $100 per ounce a lot of people would not bother growing their own. But if the government charged $400 per ounce most people would be turning on the grow lamps.
I really think this is one of the best ideas I have ever come up with. It is so elegant in its simplicity. And it is also part of the ?New Agenda for America.? Benjamin Franklin selflessly gave the world ?lightening rods? and refused to profit by imposing a copyright on the invention. Had it not been for the lightening rod, large building structures, such as ?skyscrapers,? would have been impossible. This is due to the associated hazard of fires from lightening strikes. I would like to give the world the MERP model with very similar intentions.
One thing MERP would also do is act as a Gatekeeper Drug: keeping more and more people away from dealers that also sell hard drugs. I am quite sure it would destroy the revenue streams for local drug dealers and terrorist organizations alike.
Here are a few additional links for a broader discussion of MERP and the reasons we really need to end Marijuana Prohibition:
Drug Policy The MERP Project The Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy (MRP) Project http://www.newagecitizen.com/ReLegalization01.htm http://www.newagecitizen.com/editorial_on_the_marijuana_re.htm
Why Lou Dobbs Should Support Marijuana Legalization http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VKf5YfQb7s&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Enewage
How Continuing the Drug War could make Nuclear Terrorism a Reality by Bruce W. Cain http://www.newagecitizen.com/Editorials/v8n1NuclearTerrorism.htm
3) How much of an effect would legalizing cannabis have on narco-terrorism?
Under the MERP model it would be quite significant. Virtually all profits in Marijuana sales ? by terrorist organization and drug gangs alike ? would instantly evaporate the very day the MERP is implemented. It should first be understood that over 50% of terrorist revenue comes from the sale of illicit drugs. Currently, Cannabis probably only accounts for 20% of the global illicit drug market. But in a 500 Billion annual global illicit drug market that is still significant. We could probably rob the Mexican drug cartels of 20 billion a year just by Re-Legalizing. And if nothing else it would keep the money in the US economy creating more jobs for US workers. But I think the effect would create a unique form of synergy. As people have more access to cheap, high quality Cannabis ? as under the MERP model — they would be less likely to encounter drug dealers that sell harder drugs such as cocaine, crack, methamphetamine etc. But while it may be hard to quantify I’m quite sure the net effect would, in any case, be positive. Another synergistic effect might be that people become more comfortable with non-alcoholic drugs and it could pave the way for Re-Legalization of other soft plant-based entheogens such as peyote, and psilocybin.
Legal psilocybin in Amsterdam has not resulted in any significant social problems. Entheogens may also have been purposely prohibited because they have a tendency to deprogram people from state propaganda: ever the more reason to make them available to responsible adults. Of course the MERP model would have a much more pronounced effect than current strategies (e.g., Medical Marijuana initiatives) for 2 important reasons:
(1) It completely takes the profit out of the Marijuana market and
(2) it constitutes a permanent and structural change at the very core of our legal system.
4) How would the federal prison population be affected by the legalization of cannabis?
Well, the most significant effect of legalization, under the MERP Model, would be 840,000 fewer arrests a year. And that IS very significant. There would be some reduction in federal prisons but most drug convictions end up with some form of probation. We are now up to arresting 840,000 Cannabis users annually. Over 80% of these arrests involve simple possession. I actually think the lions share of these never go to prison and most that do end up in state facilities.
The problem is that once you get ?tagged? by the criminal justice system it takes years to get out from under that shadow. They force you into ?drug classes? and urine tests and all sorts of totally unnecessary bullshit. It reminds me of the Inquisitions where some citizens were forced to say they were witches, when in fact they were not. And of course they also rob you blind through the entire process. I have been fortunate to have avoided this personally, but I am aware of the disproportionate penalties and costs that go along with a simple arrest for transporting Cannabis. And once your record is blemished they will be on you like flies on shit, for the rest of your life.
I realize I’ve gone off on a tangent here. But there should be no greater penalty for transporting Cannabis than for transporting a case of beer from your local party store. And like I said: once Cannabis is Re-Legalized all of this could go away forever. Of course it isn’t great news if you are an attorney, a judge, or a city that will do anything to raise revenue. Re-Legalization is probably not exactly great for a Medical Marijuana ?gardeners? who are often making between $25 to $35 an hour either. And actually the Medical Marijuana dispensaries have created a rather ironic situation.
The irony is that medical users are still basically paying street prices for the medicine: about $12 to $18 per gram. For patients like Angel Raich, who requires 7 grams per day ? a quarter ounce ? such prices would cost her over $35,000 per year. Since many medical marijuana users are both unemployed and sick, it is difficult for me to imagine how they could even afford the medicine at these prices.
Re-Legalization would allow either patient, or caregiver, to cooperate in the cultivation. Best of all this Cannabis would only cost about $20, pre ounce, to grow under lamps and would be virtually free if it were grown outside.
The current Marijuana laws really make you ask an important question: ?What kind of society goes so far out of its way to criminalize its members, when what they have done should not even be a crime in the first place?? I don?t have the space to entertain that question here. But Naomi Klein does a good job of it in her current book, ?Shock Doctrine.? I definitely recommend reading this book or at least ?Googling? for more information on ?Shock Doctrine.?
5) Are you thinking of running in the 2008 presidential election as a write in candidate? Why?
I am only doing this to promote the ?New Agenda for America.? I have no illusion about moving into the Whitehouse in 2009. Instead what I want to do, through this “faux candidacy,” is motivate people to ask the Democratic and Republican candidates which planks of the ?New Agenda for America? they would support. The MERP model for Marijuana Re-Legalization is currently the 3rd plank of the agenda.
Here are all of the major planks:
NEW AGENDA FOR AMERICA: Preliminary Planks Help Influence the 2008 Presidency [More info: http://www.newagecitizen.com and click on topic]
(1) Universal Health Care for All American Citizens
(2) A 20-year moratorium on all immigration into the United States
(3) Legal Marijuana for all Adults and Medical Patients
(4) An immediate reversal to the Offshoring and In shoring of American Jobs
(5) A strict enforcement on issues of Separation of Church and State
(6) An immediate move from so-called Free Trade Agreements to Bilateral Trade agreements
(7) A major R&D project to bring energy independence to the United States and the World through recycling, reuse, ending hyper-consumerism and investing in the development of sustainable energy sources (e.g., solar, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal)
(8) No further ownership of US Assets (businesses, homes, ports, stock exchanges) by foreign governments or individuals!
(9) Replace the Federal Reserve with a People’s Reserve which allows public oversight
I could be wrong but these are all things that I believe American citizens want today. They are also required in order to stop the colonization of the United States by foreign elites: a trend that has been accelerating in recent decades. But do you think any of the corporate donors, funding both parties, would allow any of the current candidates to endorse ANY of these policy planks? Unfortunately, I think the answer is a resounding ?No Way.?
Ron Paul might endorse some of them; however, I am skeptical of his libertarian religiosity. I ran against John Dingle for US Congress in 1996 as a libertarian, so I do know what I am talking about here. Having said that I still think he is the best candidate out there right now. I am promoting the ?New Agenda for America (NAA), because I think the current economic model is soon going to cause this society to crash and burn. I fear that there could be a world depression or possibly a world war in the coming decade. I believe the NAA could stave off the ?buy off? of the United States of America by foreign elites and offer American citizens a softer landing as this current ?business cycle? crashes, like a lead zeppelin, in t
he next few years. I?m afraid we may be on the cusp of a Second American Revolution and I would prefer that it be a peaceful revolution if at all possible.
But what would be the first thing I would do if I became President of the United States? At my inauguration I would tell the American people that Marijuana Prohibition is over. Until the MERP model is fully implemented by Congress I would set up a department to solely issue pardons for every non-violent Cannabis arrest. Too bad that just isn’t going to happen, isn’t it?
Finally, let me say that I do intend to go a little further than treating my candidacy as a joke. I will be setting up a signup at my website for people that might be interested in voting for me: www.newagecitizen And for those that would like to watch excerpts from my television appearances and political speeches you can look through my ?Video Biography? at the following link: Bruce Cain’s “Drug Policy Video Biography” http://www.newagecitizen.com/Videos.htm In a three-way runoff (e.g., Clinton, Giuliani, Cain) it would take about 40 million votes to win.
Just before the election I would send an email out to each person alerting them to how many have signed up to vote for me. Then they can make their own informed decision as to which direction we want to take the once-great republic. We need to keep in mind that the average longevity for a nation-state is about 250 years. I don?t know about you but, as we have just past the 200 year anniversary for this republic, I?m thinking that I?d like to beat those odds by at least a few hundred years.
Bruce Cain’s latest interview/podcast on the MERP model for Marijuana Re-Legalization:
Bruce W. Cain Discusses the MERP Mode with “Sense and Sensimilla” http://senseandsensi.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=270029
This may be the ultimate indictment of the "moneyed" drug reform movement in this country and I urge you to distribute this article as widely as possible
(The following article is posted from a website that I happened to come across today while looking for information on the “MERRP Model” for RE-Legalization. I decided to repost it because I think the opinion that is offered needs to be heard and RE-Legalization vs. Legal-Lies or “Legalize” has to be made known. SK)
This may be the ultimate indictment of the “moneyed” drug reform movement in this country and I urge you to distribute this article as widely as possible.
This is the 8th in a series of essays on the MERP Model for Re-Legalizing Marijuana throughout the planet. In this essay I am exposing the “smoking gun” evidence that will show that the “Marijuana Policy Project” (MPP) is secretively plotting to put an end to the personal cultivation of Marijuana which has been a perennial goal of all Marijuana activists since the mid-1960’s. This betrayal, of both Cannabis activists and the MERP Model, requires that MPP is cut off from any further activist funding. You will find links to all past and future essays, concerning “MERP” at the following link:
(2) Some Brief Background on the Re-Legalization Movement from the 1960’s through 2008
1967 was the year that the first major petition, demanding Marijuana Re-Legalization, was placed in the London Times by Paul McCartney. Here is a brief description of the petition from Barry Miles “Beatles Diary:”
The “Pot” Ad
The Times ran a full page advertisement on July 24th, 1967, headed, “The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice” which was signed by, among other, all four Beatles and Brian Epstein. The petition’s arguments included the following: that the smoking of cannabis on private premises should no longer constitute an offence; cannabis should be taken off the dangerous drugs list and controlled, rather than prohibited; possession of cannabis should either be legally permitted or at most be considered a misdemeanor and that all person now imprisoned for possession of cannabis or for allowing cannabis to be smoke on private premises should have their sentences commuted.
It was signed by 65 eminent names including Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the DNA molecule and a Nobel laureate, novelist Graham Greene, and MPs Brian Walden and Rom Drilberg, as well as future MP Jonathan Aitkin, but the four MBEs caused the most press concern. Questions were asked in the House, and a chain of events set off, which did actually result in the liberalization of the laws against pot in Britain. the advertisement was paid for by the Beatles at Paul McCartney’s instigation.
The Beatles Diary: The Beatles years By Barry Miles
Four years later (1971) another Beatle, John Lennon, came to the assistance of Michigan activist John Sinclair, who had been put in prison for 10 years for getting arrested with a mere 2 Marijuana cigarettes. Recently John Sinclair became the most important luminary to join the roster of activists supporting the MERP Model for Marijuana Re-Legalization. And the list of supporters is growing by the day.
So for nearly 42 years we have now been fighting to end the prohibition of Marijuana throughout this planet. Am I the only one that is angered that we have not yet achieved this goal? Think about it. It only took 13 years to realize that Alcohol Prohibition was a mistake, despite it being a far more dangerous drug than Marijuana. Yet it has now been 71 years, that we have endured Marijuana Prohibition, and despite 52% support nationwide (see Zogby Poll), our representatives continue to ignore us.
Despite numerous feeble attempts it was not until 1996 — 29 years later — that the first Medical Marijuana Initiative, Proposition 215, was passed in California. George Soros was a major contributor to Prop 215 but, according to activist Ron Kiczenski, he was not able to have much input into the structure of this initiative which had no limits to the number of plants that a patient could grow. Proposition 215 also held the counties responsible for granting citizens access to “Medical Marijuana.”
For the uninitiated here is what you should know about George Soros:
(1) He is the primary funding source for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) headed by Ethan Nadleman and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) headed by Rob Kampia.
(2) He has been the primary source of funding for the remaining 12 Medical Marijuana initiatives that have passed through 2008.
(3) He is a ruthless Globalist who supports gun control, open borders and is also a primary funding source to dozens of drug reform organizations throughout the planet.
(4) It is becoming clearer, by the day, that Soros is positioning himself to profit from a highly “taxed and regulated” Marijuana industry that will not destroy the drug cartels or stop the arrest of American Cannabis consumers.
So it is not a big surprise that Soros funded California Senate Bill 420 (SB 420), after Prop 215 passed. This was Soros’s attempt to limit the number of plants that a patient could grow. Fortunately the Californian Appeals Court found SB420 unconstitutional because it did attempt to set limits.
Undeterred Soros became the primary funding source for the remaining 12 Medical Marijuana Initiatives which culminated in the passage of the Michigan Initiative in November 2008. But the clever little Soros made sure that most of the remaining 12 initiatives were restricted to a 12 Plant limit for the Medical Patient or the Caregiver.
This concludes my brief summary of Soros activities through 2008. It should also be clear that Soros has shown absolutely no inclination to support initiatives that allow personal cultivation for healthy Cannabis consumers. In fact Ethan Nadleman would not allow me access to Soros when I attempted to garner more funding for the Michigan Personal Marijuana Initiative (PRA) in July 2001. We had collected over 270,000 signatures and needed additional funding to bring in professional canvassers to get the remaining 180,000 signatures. But Nadleman and Soros “just said no” and the initiative never made the ballot.
(3) How Obama, Soros, Rob Kampia and MPP Intend To Betray the Marijuana Re-Legalization Movement in 2009
In a recent email from MPP they talk about the pending AZ Medical Marijuana Initiative:
“What’s unique about the Arizona law is that it would permit qualifying patients or their caregivers to legally purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries — so they wouldn’t need to obtain it from the criminal market”.
Once you understand what Kampia (MPP) is really hiding you will have every right to get pissed off. You see, under this initiative (should it pass), you will NOT be able to cultivate the common 12 Plant maximum unless you live more than 25 miles from a licensed dispensary.
Here is what Rob Kampia and Soros did not want the Cannabis Activist Community to understand:
“Qualifying patients who live more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary will be allowed to cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants for personal use.”
In other words, once there are enough dispensaries individual consumers will no longer be able to cultivate their own Marijuana!
So the only thing “unique” about Rob Kampia’s (President of MPP) AZ initiative is that it will basically prohibit personal cultivation as soon as Soros can set up his network of “Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.”. On that
count alone I urge everyone in AZ to reject this flawed initiative and stop supporting MPP or DPA.
I have not assembled all of the puzzle pieces here but certainly enough to make the case that Soros, Kampia and Nadleman are not honest brokers of the drug policy reform that most Americans would like to see. untaxed, unregulated cultivation by all American Citizens over the age of 18.
It is also becoming clear that the media is slowly attempting to “manufacture consent” for a highly regulated “tax and regulate” model for Marijuana Re-Legalization that will force American Citizens to pay exorbitant prices for Marijuana (e.g., $300 to $500 and ounce) in order to feed the tax coffers of local, state and federal government. Why would we want to allow this when the MERP Model would allow you to grow for free outside or for about $30 and ounce if grown indoors under lamps.
A fellow activist also made the astute observation that Obama is most probably also in on this betrayal. Just consider the following excerpt from a recent Christian Science Monitor article on this subject:
“Several recent polls show stepped-up public support for legalization. This means not only lifting restrictions on use (“decriminalization”), but also on supply – production and sales. The Obama administration, meanwhile, says the US Drug Enforcement Agency will no longer raid dispensaries of medical marijuana – which is illegal under federal law – in states where it is legal.”
Legalize marijuana? Not so fast.
This is how she put it after we discussed the flawed AZ initiative in some detail:
“This is why MPP wants to put the power and control of med pot distribution and sales into dispensaries. and take it out of the hands of the patients. Do the dispensaries now become the care giver/grower as well? How many plants are they allowed to grow? Dispensaries will be popping up like convenience stores if that is the case. I see a whole new set of laws coming under corporate oversight and it’s screaming MONSANTO/DUPONT GENETIC PATENT ON SEED AND PLANT DISPENSARY CONTROL. What a set up…Obama said he won’t raid “DISPENSARIES” in states where medical marijuana is legal…that is why they are taking the power away from home growers/patients…These dispensaries will fall under federal laws….and more than likely federal control and regulation. Sneaky, sneaky.”
This is exactly what I have been warning people about for years regarding the major drug reform groups supported by George Soros. Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) are two of the greatest beneficiaries of Soros funds. But Soros funds dozens of groups throughout the United States and dozens more outside of the United States .
As an activist in drug reform for over 20 years my goal has always been to change the laws so that ALL American adults, not just the sick, would be able to consume and cultivate their own Marijuana. And under the MERP Model we will be able to do this just like we are currently able to produce our own homemade beer and wine: without any taxation, regulation or government interference. To that end I have come up with the MERP Model and have produced a series of essays and videos to explain how it would be implemented:
It is bad enough that Soros is moving to “cash in” on Medical Marijuana by prohibiting personal cultivation. What is worse is that such initiatives will do nothing to destroy the Drug Cartels, Terrorist Organizations and Gangs that profit from the illicit sale of Marijuana. The only model that would assure this outcome is the MERP Model, because it would essentially take all but the normal profit out of the Marijuana market.
For most goods the “normal profit” is usually about twice the cost of producing the product. So in the case of Marijuana you can grow it for about 20 to 30 dollars per ounce using the latest hydroponic techniques and High Intensity Discharge lamps. So you would expect the “normal profit” to be somewhere between $40 to $60 dollars an ounce. But the MPP Arizona initiative would do nothing to eliminate the “black marketing” of Marijuana where an ounce will still sell from between $300 and $600 an ounce. In such a setting the Medical Dispensaries, Terrorists, Mexican Drug Cartels etc. will continue to thrive at our expense.
By looking retrospectively at the the activities of Soros it is clear that he is against any form of personal cultivation and more than likely expects to profit handsomely from a highly “taxed and regulated” system of drug reform. It is also clear that Obama and the Corporate Media are also on board to manufacture consent for such a stupid and short sighted model.
But from the Hippies of the 60’s, to the Activists of the New Millennium, we have always wanted full rights to cultivate Mother Nature’s plant without the encumbrances of taxes, regulations or other excuses for the government to invade our homes and properties. As far as I’m concerned Soros, Kampia and Nadleman can go “nadle” one another. We have uncovered their deception and we will no longer support their flawed plans to control both us and our plant.
I think it is time we stop supporting these Soros-supported organizations and unite to achieve the only solution that will destroy the Cartels and serve the common good: the MERP Model. It already enjoys the support of thousands of activists including some of the most important luminaries of the movement: John Sinclair, Ron Kiczenski and Bruce W. Cain (Editor of New Age Citizen).
Following blizzard-like conditions and plummeting temperatures at Standing Rock, Chairman David Archambault released a letter…
December 8, 2016
Indigenous Environmental Network Responds to Chairman Archambault’s Ask for Water Protectors to Return Home and Comments on the Fight Ahead
Jade Begay, 505-699-4791, [email protected]
December 8, 2016 [Cannon Ball, ND] – Following blizzard-like conditions and plummeting temperatures at Standing Rock, Chairman David Archambault released a letter respectfully asking visiting Water Protectors to develop exit strategies and to return home once the current storm passes.
The following is a statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network responding to the Chairman’s request and about what the organization sees as the next steps for Standing Rock:
“We are at a critical moment in this fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to not grant the final easement to the pipeline company without further review was a tremendous victory, but it is a temporary one. With the pro-pipeline politics of the forthcoming Trump administration, the struggle to protect the Missouri River, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s drinking water and indigenous sovereignty will most certainly need to continue in the coming year and beyond.
In their response to the order to pause construction until further review, Energy Transfer Partners has made it clear that they will pursue completion of the pipeline. During this period of deescalated conflict, we will remain watchful of Energy Transfer Partners and the Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental impact study and fully expect to challenge any action the Trump administration aims to take in approving the final phase of DAPL construction.
This past week, we saw blizzard-like conditions that generated an immense burden upon camp and tribal resources and placed a number of unprepared campers at risk. Because of these challenges, along with the deescalated need for allies to be on the ground at Standing Rock while DAPL construction is paused, we now encourage allies to reevaluate staying or coming to Standing Rock. As such, we have decided to respect the Chairman’s request and begin the process of transitioning out of the Oceti Sakowin camp.
Since the beginning of this movement, thousands have come to Standing Rock to serve as true allies and guests of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the land and local communities. The support we, as visitors, received helped create a solid foundation of prayer and movement in the protection of Mother Earth and her lifeblood: the water. During this pause in action, we remain committed to supporting the grassroots leadership within the camp and will help facilitate the transition out of camp, prioritizing the safety of its individuals and ensuring that the land we’ve been using is left better than it was found.
Moving forward, IEN looks towards growing and furthering the momentum that has begun here at Standing Rock.
We will continue to ask our allies to divest from the financiers of the Dakota Access Pipeline and to take part in the Global Month of #NoDAPL Action . We also encourage Water Protectors to stand with communities across the nation who are resisting pipelines that threaten their water supplies and other Indigenous communities.
Three key dates we encourage the public stay updated on are:
Friday, December 9th, a hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday morning in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court requested by Energy Transfer Partners to allow them to complete the project.
Sunday, January 1st, when suppliers for the pipeline construction will have an opportunity to re-negotiate their contracts with Energy Transfer Partners or back out.
And finally, the days after January 21st, when the specific challenges will be revealed from the new administration and what we will need to do to protect water and Indigenous rights.
We are not abandoning our relatives here in Standing Rock and this movement is far from over. In fact, it is escalating and the stakes are even higher. We are stronger than ever, filled with even more hope and more prayer, and no matter who is in the White House, we will continue to follow our original instructions as Indigenous Peoples to defend land and to protect water.”
For real time updates on the status of DAPL construction at Standing Rock, please follow Indigenous Environmental Network and Indigenous Rising Media.
Lepp, age 64, hailed as a “marijuana martyr” by supporters
PUBLISHED: December 7, 2016 at 9:59 am | UPDATED: December 8, 2016 at 9:16 am
SAN FRANCISCO — Free after eight years of federal imprisonment, one of the nation’s most celebrated cannabis convicts came home to California on Wednesday, walking off a United Airlines flight into the warm embrace of supporters — and a profoundly changed world.
Charles “Eddy” Lepp, a defiant 64-year-old Vietnam vet and ordained Rastafarian minister, was convicted on federal felony charges in 2007 for doing something that California now considers legal because of last month’s passage of Proposition 64: growing marijuana.
“I’m very honored. I’m very humbled. Thank you so much for caring,” Lepp told friends and family at San Francisco International Airport, tears streaming down his creased cheeks.
Then he vowed to fight for national legalization of cannabis and presidential pardons for first-time nonviolent drug offenders.
“Just because I went to federal prison doesn’t mean I got off the horse,” said Lepp, who will be on drug-monitored probation for five years. “It is still a long, long ride — and I’ll be there when it’s done.”
Victory: ACE Hardware commits to no ban on Standing Rock sales
Victory! In the wee hours of yesterday morning Ace Hardware (1) affirmed that their stores near Standing Rock will continue selling propane and materials to the water protectors.
This is because you took action by joining to support their brave actions.
This is a long battle for justice. Please keep calling your Members of Congress and Senators with a strong #NoDAPL message.
You can use 202-221-3121 to be conntected to your representative.
Keep following on the ground organizers and stay ready to support them at a moments notice.
Together, we will defeat the pipleline by supporting Standing Rock.
The US Army Corps of Engineers will not grant permission for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe
“The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota,” said a statement on the US Army website, citing the Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy.
According to Darcy, it was “clear” they needed to address concerns of tribal leaders who expressed concerns over the potential environmental impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and “the best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
“The consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis,” the Army statement said.
Standing Rock Sioux chairman Dave Archambault II has issued a statement expressing his gratitude to the Obama administration for enabling the “historic decision” to re-reroute the pipeline.
“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing,” he wrote.
The news is a massive win for the Sioux tribe that established the protest camp at the site in April and has gained huge support in recent weeks.
Military veterans joined activists, who call themselves water protectors, at Standing Rock this week, with more than 3,500 pledging to join the demonstration.
Some 26 activists were injured in a November 20 confrontation when police fired water cannon in below-freezing temperatures. Rubber bullets and tear gas were also reportedly used against the water protectors on site.
Around 564 people were arrested during the protests, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
December 3, 20167:00 AM ET
Robin Marantz Henig
The brilliantly-colored shapes reminded Carol Vincent of fluorescent deep-sea creatures, and they floated past her languidly. She was overwhelmed by their beauty — and then suddenly, as if in a dream, she was out somewhere in deep space instead. “Oh, wow,” she thought, overwhelmed all over again. She had been an amateur skydiver in her youth, but this sensation didn’t come with any sense of speeding or falling or even having a body at all. She was just hovering there, gazing at the universe.
Vincent was having a psychedelic experience, taking part in one of the two studies just published that look at whether cancer patients like her could overcome their death-related anxiety and depression with a single dose of psilocybin.
It turned out they could, according to the studies, conducted at New York University and Johns Hopkins and reported this week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. NYU and Hopkins scientists gave synthetic psilocybin, the hallucinogenic component of “magic mushrooms,” to a combined total of 80 people with advanced cancer suffering from depression, anxiety, and “existential angst.” At follow-up six months or more later, two-thirds of the subjects said their anxiety and depression had pretty much disappeared after a single dose.
And about 80 percent said the psilocybin experience was “among the most personally meaningful of their lives,” Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and leader of the Hopkins team, said in an interview.
That’s how it was for Vincent, one of the volunteers in Griffiths’ study. By the time she found her way to Hopkins in 2014, Vincent, now 61, had been living for six years with a time bomb of a diagnosis: follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which she was told was incurable. It was asymptomatic at the time except for a few enlarged lymph nodes, but was expected to start growing at some undefined future date; when it did, Vincent would have to start chemotherapy just to keep it in check. By 2014, still symptom-free, Vincent had grown moderately anxious, depressed, and wary, on continual high alert for signs that the cancer growth had finally begun.
“The anvil over your head, the constant surveillance of your health — it takes a toll,” says Vincent, who owns an advertising agency in Victoria, British Columbia. She found herself thinking, “What’s the point of this? All I’m doing is waiting for the lymphoma. There was no sense of being able to look forward to something.” When she wasn’t worrying about her cancer, she was worrying about her son, then in his mid-20s and going through a difficult time. What would happen to him if she died?
Participating in the psilocybin study, she says, was the first thing she’d looked forward to in years.
The experiment involved two treatments with psilocybin, roughly one month apart — one at a dose high enough to bring on a markedly altered state of consciousness, the other at a very low dose to serve as a control. It’s difficult to design an experiment like this to compare treatment with an actual placebo, since it’s obvious to everyone when a psychedelic experience is underway.
The NYU study used a design similar to Hopkins’ but with an “active placebo,” the B vitamin niacin, instead of very-low-dose psilocybin as the control. Niacin speeds up heart rate but doesn’t have any psychedelic effect. In both studies it was random whether a volunteer got the dose or the control first, but everyone got both, and the order seemed to make no difference in the outcome.
Vincent had to travel from her home in Victoria to Baltimore for the sessions; her travel costs were covered by the Heffter Research Institute, the New Mexico nonprofit that funded both studies. She spent the day before each treatment with the two Hopkins staffers who would be her “guides” during the psilocybin trip. They helped her anticipate some of the emotional issues — the kind of baggage everyone has — that might come to the fore during the experience.
The guides told Vincent that she might encounter some hallucinations that were frightening, and that she shouldn’t try to run away from them. “If you see scary stuff,” they told her, “just open up and walk right in.”
They repeated that line the following day — “just open up and walk right in” — when Vincent returned to Hopkins at 9 a.m., having eaten a light breakfast. The treatment took place in a hospital room designed to feel as homey as possible. “It felt like your first apartment after college, circa 1970,” she says, with a beige couch, a couple of armchairs and some abstract art on the wall.
Vincent was given the pill in a ceramic chalice, and in about 20 minutes she started to feel woozy. She lay down on the couch, put on some eye shades and headphones to block out exterior sights and sounds, and focused on what was happening inside her head. The headphones delivered a carefully-chosen playlist of Western classical music, from Bach and Beethoven to Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” interspersed with some sitar music and Buddhist chants. Vincent recalled the music as mostly soothing or uplifting, though occasionally there were some brooding pieces in a minor key that led her images to a darker place.
With the music as background, Vincent started to experience a sequence of vivid hallucinations that took her from the deep sea to vast outer space. Listening to her describe it is like listening to anyone describe a dream — it’s a disjointed series of scenes, for which the intensity and meaning can be hard to convey.
She remembered seeing neon geometric shapes, a gold shield spelling out the name Jesus, a whole series of cartoon characters — a fish, a rabbit, a horse, a pirate ship, a castle, a crab, a superhero in a cape — and at some point she entered a crystal cave encrusted with prisms. “It was crazy how overwhelmed by the beauty I was,” she says, sometimes to the point of weeping. “Everything I was looking at was so spectacular.”
At one point she heard herself laughing in her son’s voice, in her brother’s voice, and in the voices of other family members. The cartoon characters kept appearing in the midst of all that spectacular beauty, especially the “comical crab” that emerged two more times. She saw a frightening black vault, which she thought might contain something terrifying. But remembering her guides’ advice to “just open up and walk right in,” she investigated, and found that the only thing inside it was herself.
When the experience was over, about six hours after it began, the guides sent Vincent back to the hotel with her son, who had accompanied her to Baltimore, and asked her to write down what she’d visualized and what she thought about it.
Griffiths had at first been worried about giving psychedelics to cancer patients like Vincent, fearing they might actually become even more afraid of death by taking “a look into the existen
But even though some research participants did have moments of panic in which they thought they were losing their minds or were about to die, he said the guides were always able to settle them down, and never had to resort to the antipsychotic drugs they had on hand for emergencies. (The NYU guides never had to use theirs, either.)
Many subjects came away feeling uplifted, Griffiths says, talking about “a sense of unity,” feeling part of “an interconnected whole.” He adds that even people who are atheists, as Vincent is, described the feeling as precious, meaningful or even sacred.
The reasons for the power and persistence of psilocybin’s impact are still “a big mystery,” according to Griffiths. “That’s what makes this research, frankly, so exciting,” he says. “There’s so much that’s unknown, and it holds the promise for really understanding the nature of human meaning-making and consciousness.”
He says he looks forward to using psilocybin in other patient populations, not just people with terminal diagnoses, to help answer larger existential questions that are “so critical to our experience as human organisms.”
Two and a half years after the psychedelic experience, Carol Vincent is still symptom-free, but she’s not as terrified of the “anvil” hanging over her, no longer waiting in dread for the cancer to show itself. “I didn’t get answers to questions like, ‘Where are you, God?’ or ‘Why did I get cancer?’ ” she says. What she got instead, she says, was the realization that all the fears and worries that “take up so much of my mental real estate” turn out to be “really insignificant” in the context of the big picture of the universe.
This insight was heightened by one small detail of her psilocybin trip, which has stayed with her all this time: that little cartoon crab that floated into her vision along with the other animated characters.
“I saw that crab three times,” Vincent says. The crab, she later realized, is the astrological sign of cancer — the disease that terrified her, and also the sign that both her son and her mother were born under. These were the three things in her life that she cared about, and worried over, most deeply, she says. “And here they were, appearing as comic relief.”
Science writer Robin Marantz Henig is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the author of nine books.
11/30/2016 04:03 am ET
Those who use and study the plant say an outright ban could do serious harm.
Seven weeks after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officially withdrew its plan to ban kratom, the federal government is once again set to decide the fate of the herb and the people who rely on it for pain relief and other treatment.
The DEA had initially planned to use its emergency scheduling power to push through the ban without input from the public, despite concerns from lawmakers and scientists ― as well as kratom users ― that the move would do more harm than good. In October, however, the DEA opened a public comment period allowing individuals to weigh in on the agency’s decision to place mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, two active compounds in kratom, in Schedule I. Substances in this category include heroin and LSD and are considered to have no known medical benefit and a high potential for abuse.
With the comment period set to close on Thursday, the DEA will now have to take into account the nearly 9,000 submissions from people who wanted to voice their opinions about this proposed expansion of the war on drugs.
But kratom isn’t in the clear yet. The DEA is currently awaiting the results of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration analysis on the potential harms and health benefits of the herb, which will determine if kratom truly poses an “imminent hazard to the public safety,” as the agency initially claimed in August.
The DEA doesn’t know when it will get the results of the FDA’s review, Russell Baer, a spokesperson for the agency, told The Huffington Post.
“We’ve asked the FDA to expedite their analysis, but they’ve not given us any indication as to when that may be done, other than as soon as practical,” said Baer. “They’re involved in an exhaustive scientific review and evaluation, so these things do take time.”
Although Baer said he expects the DEA to wait for the FDA’s analysis before deciding on an appropriate schedule for kratom ― or whether it should be scheduled at all ― he noted that the agency could still proceed with emergency scheduling even in the absence of more concrete scientific evidence.
The DEA’s next steps will have huge implications for people like Joshua Levy. In the video above, Levy explains that he turned to kratom after struggling with dependence on the opioid painkillers he’d been prescribed following a hit-and-run accident. Like many kratom users, he says the herb gave him back the life that had been taken from him by addiction and other side-effects of narcotic painkillers.
“Since I started taking kratom, since I had gotten off of the pain pills, my life has basically opened up dramatically,” Levy told HuffPost. “I got a new job. I’m building a friendship up with my sister that I haven’t had in a long time. I’m not lazy anymore. I don’t want to isolate myself. I want to go out, I want to be out of the house.”
The kratom community is full of success stories like Levy’s. But together, they form only anecdotal evidence of the herb’s benefits, which is not enough to support a more official confirmation of its medicinal value.
Experts like Andrew Kruegel, an associate research scientist at Columbia University, hope the DEA will allow kratom to remain legal so they can keep working to unlock the herb’s potential.
Kruegel’s studies have shown that kratom can be used to alleviate mild pain, and that the plant’s negative side effects are relatively minor.
“As a scientist, I try to be as objective as possible and not overstate the promise of kratom,” said Kruegel. “We just don’t know that much about the plant yet.”
But Kruegel also has bigger hopes for kratom, which he believes can be used to aid in the development of safer alternatives to the prescription opioids that claimed more than 18,000 lives in the U.S. in 2014 due to overdose.
“Of course, if it’s in Schedule I, historically that greatly limits the ability to do research on it,” he said.
By Terray Sylvester | CANNON BALL, N.D.
More than 2,000 U.S. military veterans plan to form a human shield to protect protesters of a pipeline project near a Native American reservation in North Dakota, organizers said, just ahead of a federal deadline for activists to leave the camp they have been occupying.
It comes as North Dakota law enforcement backed away from a previous plan to cut off supplies to the camp – an idea quickly abandoned after an outcry and with law enforcement’s treatment of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters increasingly under the microscope.
The protesters have spent months rallying against plans to route the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying it poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American sites.
Protesters include various Native American tribes as well as environmentalists and even actors including Shailene Woodley.
State officials issued an order on Monday for activists to vacate the Oceti Sakowin camp, located on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, citing harsh weather conditions.
The state’s latest decision not to stop cars entering the protest site indicated local officials will not actively enforce Monday’s emergency order to evacuate the camp issued by Governor Jack Dalrymple.
Dalrymple warned on Wednesday that it was “probably not feasible” to reroute the pipeline, but said he had requested a meeting with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council to rebuild a relationship.
“We need to begin now to talk about how we are going to return to a peaceful relationship,” he said on a conference call.
The 1,172-mile (1,885 km) pipeline project, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP.N), is mostly complete, except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.
Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, a contingent of more than 2,000 U.S. military veterans, intends to go to North Dakota by this weekend and form a human wall in front of police, protest organizers said on a Facebook page. Organizers could not immediately be reached for comment.
“I figured this was more important than anything else I could be doing,” Guy Dull Knife, 69, a Vietnam War Army veteran, told Reuters at the main camp.
Dull Knife, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe from the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, said he has been camping at the protest site for months.
Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Rob Keller said in an email his agency was aware of the veterans’ plans, but would not comment further on how law enforcement will deal with demonstrators.
Former U.S. Marine Michael A. Wood Jr is leading the effort along with Wesley Clark Jr, a writer whose father is retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark.
U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii and a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, has said on Twitter she will join the protesters on Sunday.
The Army Corps, citing safety concerns, has ordered the evacuation of the primary protest camp by Dec. 5, but said it would not forcibly remove people from the land.
Local law enforcement said on Tuesday they planned a blockade of the camp, but local and state officials later retreated, saying they would only check vehicles for certain prohibited supplies like propane, and possibly issue fines.
Dalrymple on Wednesday said state officials never contemplated forcibly removing protesters and there had been no plans to block food or other supplies from the camp. “That would be a huge mistake from a humanitarian standpoint,” he said on the conference call.
He also warned protesters that while emergency responders will try to reach anyone in need, that would be contingent on weather conditions.
Protesters, who refer to themselves as “water protectors,” have been gearing up for the winter while they await the Army Corps decision on whether to allow Energy Transfer Partners to tunnel under the river. That decision has been delayed twice by the Army Corps.
(Additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder in Houston and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Matthew Lewis)