To Justify the Unjustifiable, We Blame the Mothers

Cincinnati’s WKRC, Channel 12 ran a story about a study claiming that marijuana use by pregnant women ‘may’ cause brain damage in the fetus or later mental problems. Setting aside the fact that every one of these studies all say ‘may’ or ‘might’, one must ignore 4000 years of anecdotal evidence.  Women have been using marijuana for menstrual cramps and morning sickness since ancient times and there is no reported evidence of any problems with birth or birth defects in all that time.

Israeli researchers, who have been studying marijuana and it’s properties for decades, and discovered the human cannabinoid system, have yet to find any definitive link between marijuana use and brain damage and in fact have discovered that marijuana use engenders brain cell growth the opposite of alcohol which causes brain cell death.

This idea of brain damage came up after the publishing of a very questionable study from New Zealand which claimed marijuana use caused schizophrenia. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown touted this study in an effort to increase penalties for marijuana use to gin up conservative voters in his election.  It was a big scandal and his health minister quit over the uproar.

Since then this claim has morphed into mental problems in adults and when that didn’t get traction it became mental problems in the developing teen brain and now it has devolved to the fetus and we are blaming the mothers in an embarrassing attempt to keep prohibition going!

Marijuana has been used for thousands of years and has been prohibited for only 80. The push to connect marijuana and mental health problems in the fetus is just another attempt to justify a prohibition that cannot be justified.  Better we spend our efforts in finding the positive uses for marijuana because in 80 years we sure have had a hard time proving any bad ones.

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Fortified for Your Protection

The March 25, 2017 edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer contained an article titled, ‘Typos in DNA Help Fuel Cancer’. The article said research suggests most cases of cancer are due to random copying errors. The cell, for whatever reason, mutates and not in a good way.  Cells that mutate are programmed to die but due to mutation they replicate and grow.

One would think the ideal solution would be something that could guarantee cell death should mutation occur. There is, according to current data, such a substance but we have made research into it almost impossible.

Early experiments at the Medical College of Virginia showed that tumorous mice injected with THC, the active ingredient in Cannabis, saw the tumors reduced by 33% over the time of the research.

Complutense University in Madrid Spain, in their research found that the active ingredient in marijuana appears to prompt the death of brain cancer cells. The finding is based on work with mice designed to carry human cancer tumors, as well as from an analysis of THC’s impact on tumor cells extracted from 2 patients with brain cancer.

Dr. Donald Tashkin did the largest study to date on marijuana and lung cancer, 2500 subjects. The expectation was that it would be a ‘slam dunk’, that certainly smoking cannabis would increase the likelihood of contracting cancer.  The researchers were surprised to find that marijuana smokers get head, neck and lung cancer at the same rate as nonsmokers.  The researchers concluded that cannabis contains some kind of cancer preventer that needs looking into as soon as possible.

Would that it were so! Currently cannabis is classified as Schedule 1, dangerous and having no medical value.  Never mind the 28 states that have medical marijuana programs, the Government and the Drug Enforcement Administration will not allow any research on marijuana unless it is designed to show harm.  So far legalization in States across America has not supported the Governments position that allowing the citizens access to cannabis would somehow be harmful.  Dr. Tashkin’s study did do something though.  The Government no longer claims smoking marijuana will cause lung cancer.

There is plenty of evidence that bears looking into but until we end our irrational war on cannabis, nothing will happen.

There is currently in the House of Representatives a bipartisan Cannabis Caucus consisting of Rep Dana Rohrabacher R, California, Rep Earl Blumenauer, D Oregon, Rep Jared Polis, D Colorado and Rep Don Young, R of Alaska. In the Senate Senator Jeff Merkly of Oregon is a supporter.  Concerned citizens should contact their legislators and insist support for legalizing cannabis so needed research can be done to ascertain the healing effects of this remarkable plant.

The sooner our ridiculous war on cannabis ends, the sooner we can research and use what might just be our most powerful weapon ever in our long war on cancer. It would not surprise me if one day your Cheerios box has printed on it, ‘Fortified with cannabis for your protection!’

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Two Vladimirs, One Hundred Years

The Senior Advisor to President Trump is a man named Steve Bannon, he has the President’s ear. Mr. Bannon, formerly of Brietbart News, the mouthpiece of the Alt- Right, has in the past, proclaimed himself an avowed Leninist, a follower of Vladimir Lenin, first ruler of the Soviet Union.  Lenin like the anarchists of his day, believed in the overthrow of all the current institutions of government and society, replacing them with institutions where power is supposedly devolved to the people.  The Russian revolution of 1917 devolved into a single party authoritarian system using repression and torture to stay in power.

President Trump has issued Executive orders that certainly Lenin himself would be proud of, silencing branches of the Government from responding to citizen inquiries, ordering nonpartisan administrators to answer ‘loyalty questionnaires’ and firing career nonpartisan administrators and replacing them with unqualified ideologues. What is going on here?  President Trump’s actions so far certainly follow the Lenin playbook. De legitimize the institutions of government, society and the press and control and undermine the centers of information and put people ideologically devoted to you in place.

One has to wonder, with Mr. Trumps ties to the Russians, (the Russians said they were in contact with the Trump campaign throughout the election cycle), and another Vladimir, are we witnessing a compromised President being handled from afar by the Vladimir of 2017? Mr. Trump has created for Mr. Bannon, a permanent seat on the National Security Council.  A Leninist, is sitting on the National Security Council!  Saint Reagan must be spinning in his grave!  When one considers all this it seems very suspicious.

Until it is clear what the connections are between the Russians, Mr. Trump, his Senior Advisor, his Secretary of State, and his National Security Advisor, America should be on guard and be wary, be very wary.

The Vladimir of 2017 is every bit as dangerous as was the Vladimir of 1917, one hundred years ago. Let us not forget the threat posed by both.

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Hitting the Lottery or “I sent you a Boat!”

The world is watching Colorado and is finding out that everything we have been told by our Government about marijuana has not been factual, to put it nicely.

Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and recreational in 2014. They have paid more than 150 million in taxes on 1.3 billion in sales for 2016 and have created more than 20,000 full time jobs in the process and none of the predicted harms of legalization have materialized.

California has had an easy access medical marijuana program for 20 years and NONE of the terrible things we have been told will happen should cannabis be legal have happened!

All we have to do is copy Colorado’s regs and standards and git on with it!

What in the name of Heaven are we waiting for?

The people in our eastern counties are praying for something to replace the coal industry. God has one ready to go for us and we are ignoring his help! It’s like the old joke about the guy trapped on his roof in a flood. He prays and prays and God comes to him and says God will save him. Later a helicopter comes by and offers to pick the man up. “No, no, thanks anyway but God said he would save me.” After a while a boat comes and offers to pick up the man. Again he says no because, “God will save me.” Later on that night the waters rose and the man drowned. When he gets up to heaven He asks God, “Why, why God, didn’t you save me?” and God replies, “I sent you a boat and a helicopter, why didn’t you get in?”

Let’s take this winning lottery ticket the good Lord has given us, an industry safer and healthier than coal, and do good with it! Alleviate the suffering of our eastern counties, create thousands of jobs, garner millions in revenue, enable billions in economic activity and put that money to work for the citizens of our great state.

It would seem that if we get to the end of this session and nothing is done, one could reasonably conclude the Republican controlled legislature is being derelict in its duty to improve the lives and the well being of our citizens and our state!

 

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A Private Sector Activity

During the 2016 Presidential campaign and leading right up to the election, Senator Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader in the Senate and Kentucky’s senior Senator campaigned on the idea of a ‘War on Coal’ as the reason for job loss in our eastern counties. He spoke of how Republicans will bring coal jobs back to the State. Imagine the surprise in our eastern counties when old Mitch was recently quoted as saying that job creation was, ‘a private sector activity’. Expressing the idea that government does not create jobs.

Government creates jobs by its very existence and actions. Can Government bring coal jobs back? In a word, no. The market mostly decides what happens in a given industry and automation and cheap gas is ending coal. Are there actions State legislators could take to bring an industry to Kentucky? Yes, legislative action could free an industry from oppressive and unscientific laws and regulations to allow an industry to reach its maximum potential. Is there an industry that could replace or create more jobs and prosperity statewide than the coal industry? Yes there is.

The cannabis industry will create more jobs than trying to save a dying coal industry. All Kentucky’s citizens are waiting for is the Assembly to move forward on cannabis legalization and stand back and let the market grow.

Colorado, for example, has allowed for medical cannabis since 2012 and in 2014 began recreational legalization. The industry in 2015 paid 146 million in taxes on 947 million in sales and has created 18,000 full time jobs in the industry with 2.5 billion in economic activity. Colorado’s population is an estimated 5.5 million and Kentucky’s is 4.5 million. We would probably see an 800 million dollar market with about 2 billion in economic activity. We wouldn’t have to work that hard to set it up. Simply set up a committee to borrow Colorado’s program and adapt it to gain maximum benefit from this lucrative industry. We could be up and running in 2 years if we do it right and before we are done there will be Kentucky cannabis products being sold nationwide!

California’s citizens have had access to cannabis for 20 years and Colorado for 5 years. They have yet to experience any of the terrible things that those who oppose legalization have claimed would happen for the last 80 years. The prohibitionists have been completely wrong about every prediction of doom and gloom if marijuana is legal. Those prohibitionists should have zero credibility on this issue as they have been wrong at every turn and should not even be included in the discussion.

Is job creation a, ‘private sector activity’, as Senator McConnell claims? Certainly when government lets a contract jobs are created. In the case of cannabis, government simply has to follow the science and get out of the way. Kentucky’s newly elected Assembly with a Republican majority has the opportunity to bring a billion dollar industry and more than 15,000 jobs to the state in 2017. They should git to work as soon as the Assembly opens. Our eastern counties are desperately awaiting action and do not want to hear their leaders say job creation is a, ‘private sector activity’ as an excuse to let them down once again!

 

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Behind the Prohibitionist’s Lies

On November 8th voters in nine states will vote on marijuana legalization.  Five will vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and four will vote on legalizing medical use.  To be sure, the opponents of legalization, police and prison guard unions, tobacco and alcohol lobbyists to name a few, will be out in force.  What horrible thing they will proclaim the use of marijuana will cause has yet to be seen.  Whatever it is these prohibitionist warriors have a huge problem and its name is California.

California first legalized the medical use of marijuana in 1996. The citizens have had easy access to marijuana for twenty years and as of now virtually none of the bad things we have been told by our leaders since 1937 that would happen, have happened.  Seems marijuana does not cause schizophrenia, turn people into crazed killers or lead them to do other harder drugs.  Our leaders either purposefully lied or are willfully ignorant.

John Ehrlichman in an article published in the April 2016 edition of Harper’s Magazine admitted his culpability in making the War on Drugs a political scam. He was being interviewed by Mr. Dan Baum for the article and Mr. Ehrlichman asked, “You want to know what this was really all about?  The Nixon campaign and the Nixon White House after that had 2 enemies: the anti-war left and black people. You understand what I’m saying?  We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or to be black but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.  We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings and vilify them night after night on the evening news.  Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

So which is it, purposefully lying or willfully ignorant because history shows that marijuana prohibition was a political scam beginning with the 1937 Marijuana Tax Stamp Act, and continuing with the modern version the 1970 Controlled Substances Act and subsequent War on Drugs as admitted to by Mister Ehrlichman.

The reality of marijuana legalization can be seen in what has happened in Colorado. They legalized marijuana for medical purposes 13 years ago and recreational use in 2014, and by 2015 the industry was up and running.  To quote Governor Hickenlooper, “Legalization was not as vexing as we thought.”  The first year of full legalization, 2015, saw Colorado collecting 146 million in revenue from 947 million in sales.  They have created 20,000 jobs in the industry and as of May 2016 are on track for more than a billion dollars in sales.  All this and not one of the sort of problems predicted by our prohibitionist warriors and repeated by our leaders have surfaced.  Should California pass recreational legalization, and it looks like they will this year, it will be, as one drug warrior at an anti-marijuana seminar held in Covington, Ky last year said, “  all over folks!”

The citizens of California have had access to marijuana for twenty years and nothing, ‘nada’ has happened! The anti-marijuana crowed has to explain how this is possible.  They also have to admit they were wrong and apologize to the millions of Americans who, over these 80 years, have had their lives ruined behind the prohibitionist’s lies.

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Effective Drug Policy is Possible

The headline of the Kentucky Enquirer editorial of August 26, 2016 was blunt and as loud as it could be, ’78 Ods in 2 Days? Time to Fight Heroin with Money!’ The Editorial went on to bemoan our self-created heroin overdose problem and calls for more money to fight this growing problem.

This echoes our past as the end of alcohol prohibition was preceded by exactly the same kinds of circumstances. Deaths from unregulated alcohol on the black market and a realization that we cannot arrest our way out of the problems caused by alcohol abuse.  Our current policy regarding drugs is one of complete prohibition, as it was with alcohol, accompanied by arrest and incarceration.  Possession of any amount is considered a crime and rehabilitation can be forced.  This policy has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a complete failure.  Our jails are filled with nonviolent citizens who are further victimized by after prison restrictions and add on punishments, all to no avail. According to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, LEAP, the percentage of the citizens using drugs has basically hovered around 1.3% of the population regardless of the severity of drug prohibition laws.  It was 1.3% when the Harrison Act was passed in 1914, 1.3% when marijuana was made illegal in 1937, 1.3% when the 1970 Controlled Substances Act we operate under today, was passed, and it is 1.3% today.

President Nixon appointed a commission, called the Shafer Commission to study drugs in America and make recommendations. The commission recommended that drugs be treated as a medical and not a criminal problem.  Nixon ignored the Commission’s recommendations and declared the War on Drugs for the purpose of harassing his political enemies. By associating African Americans with heroin and Anti-War protesters with marijuana and criminalizing them heavily they could arrest their leaders and break up their meetings as Nixon aide John Ehrlichman admitted to in a 1994 interview.  So we are currently operating under a failed policy of arrest and incarceration given to us by a troubled and vindictive President solely for political purposes and worst of all we are still at it!

The increasing awareness of the failure of our current policies should cause us to try something new, preferably a policy with a proven track record of success where it has been tried. A good example is stopping overdose deaths. Simply legalizing medical marijuana in a State engenders a 25% drop in opioid overdose deaths in the first year after legalization that grows to 33% by the 6th year after legalization as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There is a successful policy for dealing with hard drug use and addiction and it has a proven track record of success. Portugal in 2001 decriminalized all drugs, as reported by Mr. Glenn Greenwald in Newsweek Magazine in an article titled, ‘What Portugal Can Teach Us About Decriminalizing Drugs’.  Drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but the violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed entirely from the criminal realm.  Drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense.

The data shows that, judged by every measure, Portuguese drug policy has been a huge success and this success should be mirrored by our own drug policies. None of the fears told us by the opponents of this policy have shown their ugly heads and the benefits that were predicted have been substantial.  Drug addiction and usage and their associated problems in the other EU countries has continued to rise. In Portugal, in every significant category, they have either been measurably improved or contained.  Drug usage has decreased even as usage across the EU has increased.

By freeing its citizens from the fear of arrest Portugal has dramatically improved its ability to encourage its citizens to avail themselves of treatment. Resources devoted to arrest and incarceration are now used to provide treatment.  This, along with a shift to harm reduction have improved all drug related problems to include drug caused death and the transmission of disease.

The Portuguese have seen the benefits of decriminalization and there is no political push to return to the old policy. They are unanimous in the belief that this policy has led to a far more effective approach to their addiction problems.

We have the data that proves our current policy does not work. There is a policy that does.  The lives of our addicted sons, daughters, husbands and wives are depending on a policy that works.  What we need now are the Legislators with the foresight and courage to lead us to an effective drug policy and away from the outdated and unsuccessful policy we are now following.

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