The Greatest Danger and the Easiest to Fix

For too long we have been told government is not your friend, don’t call on the government they can’t help you. They can help big business but not you! In reality Government is the only entity that can protect the citizenry from the predatory nature of big business. It’s bad enough that many of our politicians are unduly influenced by the enormous sums of money needed to run for office. Now one party’s leading contender is a big business man, and if he or those of his ilk get control of the presidency there will be no protection for the citizenry.

Until we address the problem of poverty and financial inequality in America we will be in danger, a danger more threatening than any outside aggressor!

We should elect someone who is dedicated to solving this problem. All other problems pale in comparison to this one.

We can fix it. Eliminate the cap on taxable income for Social Security currently at 160,000 dollars and raise the tax to 8%. Then lower the age of eligibility to 50 years old. Place a tax on all Stock Market trades of one or 2% and use that money to create a basic citizen stipend equivalent to 3 meals and a place to live say, 1500 to 2000 a month for all from age 21 to 50 as a right of citizenship. This stipend could have a means test to cut costs. For our young citizens we should start an account for all newborns that the government under some kind of formula deposits money into on a regular basis that the child gets when they turn 21 to get started in life. Of course 4 year college tuition would be free as it is in other modern countries, along with single payer health care

There it is. The elimination of poverty in America without taxing the rich at 90%. Think of what freeing our citizens from economic servitude would do. The creative energies of our citizens would change the world. One could dedicate oneself to improving his life and the lives of all if one were not being held in economic servitude.

This is a goal we should all be working toward. We say we are the greatest country in the world. Just saying it don’t make it so. Fact is in the area of caring for our citizens we are way down on the list.

Time the citizens of this country come first instead of last!

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Your State Senator Wants You To Be Paid Less!

Kentucky State Senator Wil Schroder supports a law, SB9, mandating that workers, who would normally be paid by law the ‘prevailing wage’, not be paid the prevailing wage when working on school construction projects to save taxpayer money on these projects. If the workers of Bracken, Campbell and Pendleton counties had any doubt whether Republicans cared about the welfare of their families, they need doubt no longer.  Republicans want their families to give up some of their income to build public school projects. I guess using schools and children somehow makes this theft of the worker’s salaries morally just but I wonder what justification they will use when they try to expand this theft to other projects.

Why do Republicans always place the burden for ‘cutting big government’ on those who make the least?

Here’s an idea! How about a law requiring the Senator and Representative of a District with a public funded project in progress to give up a third of their government and personal salary during the construction phase of the project to help pay for the project.  This will also cut costs and is just as fair to the legislators as SB9 is to the workers.

The prevailing wage is there to insure workers aren’t cheated by being paid less than comparable workers in the same area and was designed to protect them from Contractors who bid on these projects. No one thought they would have to be protected from their own legislators!

SB9 exposes the truth about Republican policy. Unless you are a businessman, government can’t help you.  It’s not government’s job!   The truth is government is the only entity that can protect you from the unjust and predatory nature of business and the free market.  SB9 eliminates that protection.

MSgt Thomas Vance USAF Ret

17 Meadow LN

Alexandria, Ky 41001

859-635-1088

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Veterans, Post Tramatic Stress Disorder,Addiction and Suicide

A worrisome component of Veteran Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with chronic pain is the constant, ever hovering specter of addiction and suicide among the Veteran population. The suicide rate sometimes reported to be as much as 22 a day, may seem a high estimate but a suicide day is 30 a month and one a day too much.

When considering the high rates of drug addiction and suicide among the Veteran population one must also consider the following reports. A recent Journal of the American Medical Association report of a 25% drop in opioid overdose deaths in states with medical marijuana laws and a Cato Institute report from January of 2015 citing a 5% drop in suicides in states having medical marijuana laws. We would expect to see a similar drop in Veteran addiction overdose deaths and suicides should the Assembly pass a Medical cannabis law this session. Indeed one can rightfully say that passage of a medical cannabis law this session is a matter of life or death for our Veterans and for our civilian citizens suffering from addiction and depression leading to suicide.

Veterans have long recognized the beneficial effects of medical marijuana and Veterans in medical cannabis states report great success when using medical marijuana for PTSD, chronic pain and a number of other conditions for which medical marijuana is effective.

During 2013 there were 1019 opioid overdose deaths in Kentucky and in 2010 there were 609 successful suicide attempts. A comprehensive medical marijuana program would have prevented 30 suicide deaths and 255 overdose deaths. Truly passage of a medical marijuana bill is a matter of life and death!

We strongly urge the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs and Kentucky Assembly to actively support passage of a strong comprehensive medical cannabis bill as soon as possible. The lives of our Veterans and citizens depend on it!

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Marijuana Foes Losing Direction

An Informational Town Hall meeting on Medical Cannabis was held on November 8. 2015 in Alexandria, Ky sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Campbell County Post 3205 Auxiliary and Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. Having given the keynote speech at that event I was surprised and somewhat curious when immediately afterward the opponents of marijuana legalization organized and held one on December 1, 2015.  The ‘Marijuana Summit’ was published as giving both sides of the issue.

I attended the event. They offered a ‘Legislative Breakfast’ and all our local legislators were there.  They seemed to be very close with the organizers of the event.  During breakfast Mr. Tony Coder, the Assistant Director of Drug Free Action Alliance, presided over a lively discussion of the issues.  Senator Perry Clark, who attended, responded to the notion that since we already have a heroin problem we don’t need to legalize another drug.  Ignoring the obvious attempt to link heroin with marijuana Senator Clark pointed out the report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of a 25% drop in opioid drug overdose deaths in states that have medical cannabis programs and that that percentage is increasing.

The response was a change of subject.

I was struck by the snarky way Mr. Coder regaled us with the story of him breaking California law and lying to obtain a medical marijuana card to prove how easy it was to get one. At this point I was able to get a word in and posed him this query.

California has had medical marijuana since 1996. You say that’s a scam and Californians can access marijuana any time they want.  Ok, I’ll give you that, (when I said that he looked surprised, then I continued), however that means the citizens of California have had easy access to marijuana for 20 years.  You have to answer this.  Where are the bodies?  Where are all the bad things you all say will happen if marijuana is legalized?

Another change of subject.

Mr. Coder repeated his easy access claim during the next session on marijuana prohibition history. I quickly pointed out that he proves my point.

Change of subject.

The 3rd session was a speech by Mr. Ed Shemelya, the National Coordinator for the National Marijuana Initiative, a retired police officer who worked extensively with the High Intensity Drug Task Force and gives speeches for a living.  He did point out, among a load of numbers that if 2 of the 6 states that will have legalization on the ballot pass it in 2016 it is, as he put it, “all over folks!”

Oh I wish it were true!

I had to leave at the halfway point. The first session after lunch was about hemp which is legal and really only a problem for the helicopter eradication program.  The last was about the last 2 Monitoring the Future surveys concerning teen access and use which has not changed significantly with legalization.  The interesting thing here is that with the exception of medical need supervised by a Doctor, no State has or will legalize marijuana for anyone under 21, so it’s really a moot point.

They always come back to protecting the children. I wonder?  Marijuana has been used by women for menstrual cramps and morning sickness for 4000 years.  In all that time there is no anecdotal evidence of birth defects or problems in birth resulting from marijuana use during pregnancy.  Given the role we now know the cannabinoid system plays in maintaining good health and the fact of marijuana’s zero toxicity, one can envision a future in which ones Cheerios come, “fortified with THC for your protection”.

The ‘Marijuana Summit’, although misguided was certainly sincere, however we would be better served by them joining in as legalization comes and helping to craft effective policy rather than opposing it completely and having no say in the policy eventually enacted.

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Veterans Speak and We Believe Them

A hearing was held in Frankfort Kentucky of the Kentucky Assembly Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection, focusing on Veteran Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (PTSD)
The Veterans Administration testified that there are 350,000 cases of Veteran PTSD among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. Around the same time the Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal study reported 283,000 cases of PTSD among Vietnam Veterans for a total of 633,000 cases of PTSD.
This total does not include Korean, Cold or Gulf war Veterans. Include them and we are easily looking at 3 quarters of a million cases of PTSD among the Veteran population.
Given the VA reported high number of suicides among Veterans and the fact that PTSD sufferers can be driven to extremes of self-destruction and violence by this condition and one can only conclude that we are witnessing a situation of epidemic proportions.
The VA testified in the Kentucky hearing that despite all the drugs and therapies used there has been little success in dealing with this condition and no drug can be said to work for PTSD. Veterans report being overloaded with treatments and enough drugs to choke a horse all with little to no relief.
The lousy success rate at the Veterans Administration has led many Veterans to turn to medical cannabis for relief from PTSD and chronic pain. They report great success and we believe them!
Veterans applying for the New Mexico Medical Marijuana Program report an average of a 75% reduction in their PTSD symptoms when using medical cannabis and many say medical cannabis has saved their lives and we believe them.
Veterans in States with medical marijuana programs are having great success and only run into trouble when, contrary to their own rules, the VA decides to withhold treatment because a Veteran tested positive in a routine urine test.
We have a conundrum that could not be more obvious. We have an epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among the Veteran population and the most successful treatment for it is illegal under Federal law!
We suggest that until Congress acts, the President expand the old Investigative New Drug Program, sometimes called the Compassionate Care Program that was killed by President HR Bush. Patients enrolled when that program was shut down sued and to this day the surviving patients receive a tin of 300 marijuana cigarettes every month from the Federal Marijuana Farm at the University of Mississippi.
There is no reason this program could not be expanded to help our Veterans. Tailor it to Veterans and have the VA Doctors do the applications. In states with a medical cannabis program the local VA could do a simple voucher program and for Veterans not in medical cannabis states simply send them a tin from Mississippi as they do now.
We can begin right now to help these Veterans to a better life without waiting for a dysfunctional Congress to act.
You know if we were out on patrol and a soldier came running up and said, “There’s a machine gun right around the bend!”, we would believe them!
These Veterans are coming to us and telling us, “This Medicine works!”, and we believe them!
We call on the Veterans Administration, the Federal Government and the Kentucky General Assembly to believe them as well!

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No Credibility

Seventy seven years after marijuana prohibition began with the claim it would turn people into violent murderers, remember ‘Reefer Madness” and little Timmy killing Grandma with a skillet, pretty much all the claims about the harms of marijuana use have been proven to be false.  Not one of the predicted outcomes cited by prohibitionists have happened.

Ohio is currently in a battle for legalization and the Cincinnati Enquirer has been following and reporting on it.  In a column titled, “Who are the opponents of issue 3, which will legalize marijuana and is on the ballot this fall, the paper reports what the reasons for opposing legalization are.  It seems to come down to 3 items.

The manner in which the ballot initiative regulates the marijuana business because initially there will be 10 farms which will be in competition with each other and the ballot uses the Ohio constitution to establish legalization.That didn’t seem to be a problem with the casino legislation but the opponents seem to think it is a problem with the marijuana industry.

It will make marijuana legally available state wide.  Isn’t that the reason for legalization?

Legal marijuana is a threat to public safety.  Although marijuana has been identified at crash sites more often, the number of accidents in Colorado are down, particularly fatal crashes.The study showing the increase in the presence of marijuana did not determine whether marijuana caused the accident. A recent study found marijuana users get into traffic accidents at the same rate as non-users.

Colorado, while initially having some child packaging problems, has experienced none of the predicted harms of using marijuana we have been told all these years would happen. The reality today is, as reported by the Drug Policy Alliance, traffic accidents especially fatal accidents are down. Violent crime is down and teen use is relatively the same as during prohibition. The Marijuana Policy Project reports record setting job growth, 21,000 in the industry as of June 2015, and Colorado has collected 74 million dollars in revenue as compared to 42 million dollars in alcohol revenue. To top it all off the Journal of the American medical Association reports a 24% drop in opioid overdose deaths in States with medical cannabis laws.
Time to admit we have been, to put it mildly, misled by the Government and the prohibitionists about marijuana and it’s effects since 1937 and they have been wrong every time.
The Government and those who would continue the prohibition of marijuana have absolutely no credibility on this issue and their pronouncements on marijuana and marijuana prohibition itself should be ignored and relegated to the dustbin of history.

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Not As Vexing As We Thought

August is ending and people are heading back to work and school after their summer vacations. Our legislators, after the November elections, will be heading back to Frankfort in January.

While Kentucky’s citizens will have to wait till January for our legislators to get back to work, the citizens of Ohio do not. When faced, as they are now, with the possibility of a voter initiative to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses that the Legislature does not like, they have, instead of crafting their own bill, have passed a bill only to stop legalization thereby guaranteeing the voter initiative will be passed without any legislative input or control. When that happens this November Kentucky will have a full legalization state on its border.

What will be the response then of Kentucky’s legislators? Will they double down on prohibition and spend tax dollars having police follow Kentucky citizens home form the pharmacies? Will they put border guards and checkpoints on the bridges? Should the legislature decide to put their heads in the sand and continue the policy of prohibition they must honestly explain the following reality.

Prohibitionists have claimed since California passed its medical cannabis laws 1996 that it being a medical law doesn’t matter and the citizens will be able to access marijuana any time they want. Ok, let’s give them that. That means Californians have had access to marijuana for 19 years. Almost 20 years of Californians using marijuana freely!

Exactly when will the predicted harms from the people using marijuana show up? When will teen use increase? When will the number of schizophrenics go up? Why are traffic accidents, especially fatal accidents down? Why is there a 25% reduction in opioid drug use in states like California? None of the predicted harms of legalization have happened in California and none of them will.

Hopefully when Kentucky’s legislators meet in January they will respond to Ohio’s restrictive legalization with a Colorado style legalization bill allowing our citizens to capture as much of this emerging market as we can.

The job creation numbers show Colorado has created 21,000 jobs so far in the marijuana industry and as Governor Hickenlooper who originally opposed legalization said in a recent interview about implementing legalization. “It was not as vexing as we thought it would be.”

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