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Eric Holder Just Announced A Major Shift On U.S. Marijuana Policy

Eric Holder Just Announced A Major Shift On U.S. Marijuana Policy.

Jan 23 (Reuters) – U.S. treasury and law enforcement agencies will soon issue regulations opening banking services to state-sanctioned marijuana businesses even though cannabis remains classified an illegal narcotic under federal law, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.

Holder said the new rules would address problems faced by newly licensed recreational pot retailers in Colorado, and medical marijuana dispensaries in other states, in operating on a cash-only basis, without access to banking services or credit.

Proprietors of state-licensed marijuana distributors in Colorado and elsewhere have complained of having to purchase inventory, pay employees and conduct sales entirely in cash, requiring elaborate and expensive security measures and putting them at a high risk of robbery.

It also makes accounting for state sales tax-collection purposes difficult.

“You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places,” Holder told the audience at the University of Virginia. “They want to be able to use the banking system. And so we will be issuing some regulations I think very soon to deal with that issue.”

Holder’s comments echoed remarks by his deputy, James Cole, in September during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.

Colorado this month became the first state to open retail outlets legally permitted to sell marijuana to adults for recreational purposes, in a system similar to what many states have long had in place for alcohol sales.

Washington state is slated to launch its own marijuana retail network later this year, and several other states, including California, Oregon and Alaska, are expected to consider legalizing recreational weed in 2014.

The number of states approving marijuana for medical purposes has also been growing. California was the first in 1996, and has since been followed by about 20 other states and the District of Columbia.

But the fledgling recreational pot markets in Colorado and Washington state have sent a new wave of cannabis proprietors clamoring to obtain loans and make deposits in banks and credit unions.

The Justice Department announced in August that the administration would give new latitude to states experimenting with taxation and regulation of marijuana.

But with the drug still outlawed at the federal level, banks are barred under money-laundering rules from handling proceeds from marijuana sales even in states where pot sales have been made legal.

The lack of credit for marijuana businesses, however, poses its own criminal justice concerns, Holder said.

“There’s a public safety component to this,” he said. “Huge amounts of cash – substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited – is something that would worry me just from a law enforcement perspective.”

Holder did not offer any specifics on a timeline for action on banking services for marijuana. Cole in September said the Justice Department was working on the issue with the Treasury Department’s financial crimes enforcement network.

Critics of liberalized marijuana laws have said the lack of credit faced by pot retailers was beside the point.

“We are in the midst of creating a corporate, for-profit marijuana industry that has to rely on addiction for profit, and that’s a much bigger issue than whether these stores take American Express,” said Kevin Sabet, co-founder of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. (Reporting by David Ingram in Charlottesville, Virginia; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Lisa Shumaker)

Activist Post: Marijuana: So Evil, the U.S. Gov’t Owns the Patent “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants”

Activist Post: Marijuana: So Evil, the U.S. Gov’t Owns the Patent “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants”
On January 1st, Colorado became the first state in the nation to legally sell marijuana for recreational purposes.

Hoax stories tell of blood raining in the streets of the state following the legalization, while Internet memes everywhere are pointing out the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration admits legal prescription drugs kill 100,000 Americans every year (while marijuana has never been linked to any overdose deaths).

This is also going to be a financial boon for the state, considering all the taxes it will rake in (an estimated $67 million a year, not to mention the millions of dollars saved in law enforcement costs for enforcing marijuana prohibition), and many are calling it a first step in nationwide legalization.

Regardless of whether or not you personally agree with marijuana legalization, would it surprise you to know that the U.S. government, via the Department of Health and Human Services, actually owns a patent on the use marijuana’s primary active ingredients as both “antioxidants” and “neuroprotectants”?

It’s U.S. Patent #6,630,507 titled ”Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants,” dated October 7, 2003:

Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.

Seeeerioussssslyyyyy dude. Marijuana is used to treat actual diseases and disorders; it hasn’t been shown to cause them.

Parents Matt and Paige Figi would certainly agree in regard to marijuana’s neuroprotectant effects; their six-year-old was diagnosed with the rare and often deadly Dravet Syndrome. She was having upwards of 300 seizures a week. After putting her on all manner of pharmaceuticals, the parents finally turned to medicinal marijuana. Now their daughter might have one seizure a week (but sometimes she doesn’t have any).

Medicinal marijuana, already legal in 20 states, allows people to use it for treatment of everything from chronic pain to glaucoma to arthritis to offsetting the effects of harsh cancer treatments. Speaking of, studies have also shown that cannabinoids have anti-cancer properties as well.

Meanwhile, marijuana still accounts for half of all illicit drug violations and billions spent annually in law enforcement costs in a country that puts more people in prison per capita than any other nation in the world, with nearly 700,000 people arrested per year for marijuana possession alone. In a recent study on the racially biased aspect of marijuana prohibition, the ACLU noted that the drug is actually overcriminalized, as cops averaged one pot bust every 37 seconds just in 2010; further studies revealed that more marijuana arrests did not contribute to less violent crime overall.

When put in contrast with the fact that alcohol, perfectly legal in the U.S., is responsible for 4% of deaths every year worldwide — more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence — the claim that marijuana prohibition is ultimately in the public interest is unconvincing at best.

Melissa Melton is a writer, researcher, and analyst for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared, and a co-creator of Truthstream Media. Wake the flock up!

Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Linked to Fracking Found in Colorado River – News Watch

Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Linked to Fracking Found in Colorado River – News Watch.

The Colorado River flows through the town of Rifle in Garfield County, Colorado. Photo (taken 1972) by David Hiser,courtesy of U.S. National Archives, Flickr/Creative Commons.
The Colorado River flows through the town of Rifle in Garfield County, Colorado. Photo (taken 1972) by David Hiser, courtesy of U.S. National Archives, Flickr/Creative Commons.

This week, more evidence came in that hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) poses potentially serious risks to drinking water quality and human health.
A team of researchers from the University of Missouri found evidence of hormone-disrupting activity in water located near fracking sites – including samples taken from the Colorado River near a dense drilling region of western Colorado.
The Colorado River is a source of drinking water for more than 30 million people.
The peer-reviewed study was published this week in the journal Endocrinology.
Fracking is the controversial process of blasting water mixed with sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressure so as to fracture rock and release the oil and gas it holds. It has made previously inaccessible fossil fuel reserves economical to tap, and drilling operations have spread rapidly across the country.
The University of Missouri team found that 11 chemicals commonly used in the fracking process are “endocrine disrupters” – compounds that can affect the human hormonal system and have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and infertility.
“More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function,” said Dr. Susan Nagel, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and women’s health at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and a co-author of the study, in a news release.
“With fracking on the rise, populations may face greater health risks from increased endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure.”
The research team collected samples from ground water and surface water from sites in Garfield County, Colorado, where fracking fluids had accidentally spilled, as well as from the nearby Colorado River, into which local streams and groundwater drain. They also took samples from other areas of Garfield County where little drilling has taken place, as well as from a county in Missouri where there had been no drilling at all.
They found that the samples from the spill site had moderate-to-high levels of endocrine-disrupting activity, and the Colorado River samples had moderate levels.  The other two samples, taken from areas with little or no drilling activity, showed low levels of endocrine-disrupting activity.
The new findings add urgency to calls for moratoriums on fracking until the risks have been fully assessed and regulations and monitoring put in place to safeguard water supplies and public health.
Due to the so-called “Halliburton loophole,” the oil and gas industry is exempt from important requirements under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, and states have been slow to fill the regulatory gap.
Colorado, in particular, should exercise the utmost caution.
According to a report by Ceres, a Boston-based non-profit organization that educates investors about corporate environmental risks, 92 percent of Colorado’s shale gas and oil wells are located in “extremely high” water stress regions, defined as areas in which cities, industries and farms are already using 80 percent or more of available water.
Adding contamination risks to the high volume of water fracking wells require – typically 4-6 million gallons per well – argues strongly for a precautionary approach to future development and a pause in existing production until the full range of environmental health risks can be assessed.
But Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has said the state will sue any city that bans fracking within its borders.  Indeed, in July 2012, the state sued the front-range town of Longmont, which had issued such a ban.
A statement about the new findings of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in waters near fracking sites issued by Concerned Health Professionals of New York, and posted here, concludes with this warning:
“These results, which are based on validated cell cultures, demonstrate that public health concerns about fracking are well-founded and extend to our hormone systems. The stakes could not be higher. Exposure to EDCs has been variously linked to breast cancer, infertility, birth defects, and learning disabilities. Scientists have identified no safe threshold of exposure for EDCs, especially for pregnant women, infants, and children.”
And environmental health expert Sandra Steingraber writes in a letter posted at the same site:
“[I]t seems to me, the ethical response on the part of the environmental health community is to reissue a call that many have made already:  hit the pause button via a national moratorium on high volume, horizontal drilling and fracking and commence a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment with full public participation.”

 

Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce Laws on Gun Control – NYTimes.com

Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce Laws on Gun Control – NYTimes.com

GREELEY, Colo. — When Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County explains in speeches why he is not enforcing the state’s new gun laws, he holds up two 30-round magazines. One, he says, he had before July 1, when the law banning the possession, sale or transfer of the large-capacity magazines went into effect. The other, he “maybe” obtained afterward.

He shuffles the magazines, which look identical, and then challenges the audience to tell the difference.

“How is a deputy or an officer supposed to know which is which?” he asks.

Colorado’s package of gun laws, enacted this year after mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., has been hailed as a victory by advocates of gun control. But if Sheriff Cooke and a majority of the other county sheriffs in Colorado offer any indication, the new laws — which mandate background checks for private gun transfers and outlaw magazines over 15 rounds — may prove nearly irrelevant across much of the state’s rural regions.

Some sheriffs, like Sheriff Cooke, are refusing to enforce the laws, saying that they are too vague and violate Second Amendment rights. Many more say that enforcement will be “a very low priority,” as several sheriffs put it. All but seven of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado signed on in May to a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes.

The resistance of sheriffs in Colorado is playing out in other states, raising questions about whether tougher rules passed since Newtown will have a muted effect in parts of the American heartland, where gun ownership is common and grass-roots opposition to tighter restrictions is high.

In New York State, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed one of the toughest gun law packages in the nation last January, two sheriffs have said publicly they would not enforce the laws — inaction that Mr. Cuomo said would set “a dangerous and frightening precedent.” The sheriffs’ refusal is unlikely to have much effect in the state: According to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, since 2010 sheriffs have filed less than 2 percent of the two most common felony gun charges. The vast majority of charges are filed by the state or local police.

In Liberty County, Fla., a jury in October acquitted a sheriff who had been suspended and charged with misconduct after he released a man arrested by a deputy on charges of carrying a concealed firearm. The sheriff, who was immediately reinstated by the governor, said he was protecting the man’s Second Amendment rights.

And in California, a delegation of sheriffs met with Gov. Jerry Brown this fall to try to persuade him to veto gun bills passed by the Legislature, including measures banning semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines and lead ammunition for hunting (Mr. Brown signed the ammunition bill but vetoed the bill outlawing the rifles).

“Our way of life means nothing to these politicians, and our interests are not being promoted in the legislative halls of Sacramento or Washington, D.C.,” said Jon E. Lopey, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, Calif., one of those who met with Governor Brown. He said enforcing gun laws was not a priority for him, and he added that residents of his rural region near the Oregon border are equally frustrated by regulations imposed by the federal Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

This year, the new gun laws in Colorado have become political flash points. Two state senators who supported the legislation were recalled in elections in September; a third resigned last month rather than face a recall. Efforts to repeal the statutes are already in the works.

Countering the elected sheriffs are some police chiefs, especially in urban areas, and state officials who say that the laws are not only enforceable but that they are already having an effect. Most gun stores have stopped selling the high-capacity magazines for personal use, although one sheriff acknowledged that some stores continued to sell them illegally. Some people who are selling or otherwise transferring guns privately are seeking background checks.

Eric Brown, a spokesman for Gov. John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado, said, “Particularly on background checks, the numbers show the law is working.” The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has run 3,445 checks on private sales since the law went into effect, he said, and has denied gun sales to 70 people.

 

Dangerous Freedom vs. Peaceful Slavery | A Lightning War for Liberty

Dangerous Freedom vs. Peaceful Slavery | A Lightning War for Liberty. (source)

Over the weekend a close friend sent me the following image, which was found spray-painted somewhere in Brooklyn:

Peacefulslavery

The words above reflect a state of mind and disposition that has been expressed by philosophers and revolutionaries for thousands of years. It is not a novel or new concept, but it is a concept that seems to have been forgotten across much of these United States. The population has largely been domesticated and this is the primary reason why there has been such little pushback to the global oligarchs looting the landscape. A pathetically large percentage of the population would rather not think, they’d prefer to be told what to believe. They would rather not have any risk in their lives, they’d prefer to have shiny gadgets handed to them. They would rather not explore the wonderful expansive world around them, they’d rather sit on the couch and watch television.

Planet earth is a truly incredible place. Majestic mountains, glistening and seemingly endless blue seas, powerful dense forests. Its beauty is too profound for me to accurately put into words. At the same time, there are terrible tsunamis, horrific hurricanes, devastating floods and countless other natural disasters that pose a constant deadly threat.

I moved to Colorado in December 2010 for many reasons, but one of the main ones was the burning desire to get away from the big city. As a kid who had grown up in Manhattan and spent 90% of my life in that environment, I felt a deep longing to move closer to nature and vast open spaces. When weather permits I like to go on lengthy hikes at least once or twice a week. On essentially all of these hikes there are both bears and mountain lions active, amongst a host of other creatures. I mention the first two because of their ability to do severe bodily harm to me at any moment should they choose to. Being aware of such dangerous animals creates a sense of fear but also thrill. Do I carry a gun on my hikes? No, I don’t. Do I want the Colorado state government to go into the woods and hunt down all the bears and mountain lions so that I can be 100% sure of my safety? Of course not. I understand this part of the world is wild and potentially dangerous, and that’s a large part of what I love about it.

Two typical signs at Boulder trailheads:

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.51.48 AM

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 12.24.05 PM

The same could be said for the world at large and society itself. Beyond the obvious reality that we are all going to die anyway, there is the point that no matter how hard you try to avoid harm or hard times, those things can come to your doorstep any time they choose. At the end of the day, it really isn’t up to you. What is up to you is how you spend each day. The things you think about, the stuff you create, the people you love. All of those things can only reach their highest potential in a free society.

Now I’m someone who certainly believes in laws and such laws applying to everyone equally. I think the entirity of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution are absolutely essential. I also believe in the saying: “No Victim, No Crime.” Taking it a step further, I do not have a problem with societies and communities actively taking measures to protect themselves from both outside and inside threats as long as such measures are consistent with a free people. However, such protective measures cannot and should not be seen in a vacuum.

For example, after all we have witnessed in the past few years, is there any reason whatsoever that a rational human being would trust the U.S. government and intelligence agencies on anything? No, there isn’t. So then why would you trust them to protect you? Why would you trust them to use the Big Brother surveillance grid for your best interests, rather than as a totalitarian tool to squash dissent?

I find it incredibly bizarre that so many people who will claim in polls to distrust the government, will at the same time support the police state grid being built around them. Why? Fear. Fear of terrorists. A fear that has been nurtured and encouraged by the very government frantically trying to have every human being on the planet on watch 24/7.

While in my mind the trade-off between “safety and freedom” should always err toward freedom, there are times when it must even more aggressively bend in that direction. I believe that to be the case today since we have a government and elite power structure of oligarchs that has proven itself to be beyond corrupt and beyond morality.

These folks do not care about the country, or the Constitution, for the poor and middle class or civil society. Their actions have proved without a shadow of a doubt that they care about nothing but themselves and furthering their wealth and power. They are not constructing the largest surveillance society in human history to protect you, they are doing it to protect themselves. From you. The sooner we all recognize this, the better.

A New Kind of War Is Being Legalized | Washington’s Blog

A New Kind of War Is Being Legalized | Washington’s Blog. (source)

There’s a dark side to the flurry of reports and testimony on drones, helpful as they are in many ways.  When we read that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch oppose drone strikes that violate international law, some of us may be inclined to interpret that as a declaration that, in fact, drone strikes violate international law.  On the contrary, what these human rights groups mean is that some drone strikes violate the law and some do not, and they want to oppose the ones that do.

Which are which? Even their best researchers can’t tell you.  Human Rights Watch looked into six drone murders in Yemen and concluded that two were illegal and four might be illegal.  The group wants President Obama to explain what the law is (since nobody else can), wants him to comply with it (whatever it is), wants civilians compensated (if anyone can agree who the civilians are and if people can really be compensated for the murder of their loved ones), and wants the U.S. government to investigate itself.  Somehow the notion of prosecuting crimes doesn’t come up.

Amnesty International looks into nine drone strikes in Pakistan, and can’t tell whether any of the nine were legal or illegal.  Amnesty wants the U.S. government to investigate itself, make facts public, compensate victims, explain what the law is, explain who a civilian is, and — remarkably — recommends this: “Where there is sufficient admissible evidence, bring those responsible to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.”  However, this will be a very tough nut to crack, as those responsible for the crimes are being asked to define what is and is not legal.  Amnesty proposes “judicial review of drone strikes,” but a rubber-stamp FISA court for drone murders wouldn’t reduce them, and an independent judiciary assigned to approve of certain drone strikes and not others would certainly approve of some, while inevitably leaving the world less than clear as to why.

The UN special rapporteurs’ reports are perhaps the strongest of the reports churned out this week, although all of the reports provide great information.  The UN will debate drones on Friday.  Congressman Grayson will bring injured child drone victims to Washington on Tuesday (although the U.S. State Department won’t let their lawyer come).  Attention is being brought to the issue, and that’s mostly to the good.  The U.N. reports make some useful points: U.S. drones have killed hundreds of civilians; drones make war the norm rather than an exception; signature strikes are illegal; double-tap strikes (targeting rescuers of a first strike’s victims) are illegal; killing rather than capturing is illegal; imminence (as a term to define a supposed threat) can’t legally be redefined to mean eventual or just barely imaginable; and — most powerfully — threatened by drones is the fundamental right to life.  However, the U.N. reports are so subservient to western lawyer groupthink as to allow that some drone kills are legal and to make the determination of which ones so complex that nobody will ever be able to say — the determination will be political rather than empirical.

The U.N. wants transparency, and I do think that’s a stronger demand than asking for the supposed legal memos that Obama has hidden in a drawer and which supposedly make his drone kills legal.  We don’t need to see that lawyerly contortionism.  Remember Obama’s speech in May at which he claimed that only four of his victims had been American and for one of those four he had invented criteria for himself to meet, even though all available evidence says he didn’t meet those criteria even in that case, and he promised to apply the same criteria to foreigners going forward, sometimes, in certain countries, depending.  Remember the liberal applause for that?  Somehow our demands of President Bush were never that he make a speech.

(And did you see how pleased people were just recently that Obama had kidnapped a man in Libya and interrogated him in secret on a ship in the ocean, eventually bringing him to the U.S. for a trial, because that was a step up from murdering him and his neighbors? Bush policies are now seen as advances.)

We don’t need the memos.  We need the videos, the times, places, names, justifications, casualties, and the video footage of each murder.  That is to say, if the UN is going to give its stamp of approval to a new kind of war but ask for a little token of gratitude, this is what it should be.  But let’s stop for a minute and consider.  The general lawyerly consensus is that killing people with drones is fine if it’s not a case where they could have been captured, it’s not “disproportionate,” it’s not too “collateral,” it’s not too “indiscriminate,” etc., — the calculation being so vague that nobody can measure it.  We’re not wrong to trumpet the good parts of these reports, but let’s be clear that the United Nations, an institution created to eliminate war, is giving its approval to a new kind of war, as long as it’s done properly, and it’s giving its approval in the same reports in which it says that drones threaten to make war the norm and peace the exception.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but that’s stunning.  Drones make war the norm, rather than the exception, and drone murders are going to be deemed legal depending on a variety of immeasurable criteria.  And the penalty for the ones that are illegal is going to be nothing, at least until African nations start doing it, at which point the International Criminal Court will shift into gear.

What is it that makes weaponized drones more humane than land mines, poison gas, cluster bombs, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and other weapons worth banning?  Are drone missiles more discriminate than cluster bombs (I mean in documented practice, not in theory)?  Are they discriminate enough, even if more discriminate than something else?  Does the ease of using them against anyone anywhere make it possible for them to be “proportionate” and “necessary”?  If some drone killing is legal and other not, and if the best researchers can’t always tell which is which, won’t drone killing continue?  The UN Special Rapporteur says drones threaten to make war the norm. Why risk that? Why not ban weaponized drones?

For those who refuse to accept that the Kellogg Briand Pact bans war, for those who refuse to accept that international law bans murder, don’t we have a choice here between banning weaponized drones or watching weaponized drones proliferate and kill?  Over 99,000 people have signed a petition to ban weaponized drones at http://BanWeaponizedDrones.org  Maybe we can push that over 100,000 … or 200,000.

It’s always struck me as odd that in civilized, Geneva conventionized, Samantha Powerized war the only crime that gets legalized is murder.  Not torture, or assault, or rape, or theft, or marijuana, or cheating on your taxes, or parking in a handicapped spot — just murder.  But will somebody please explain to me why homicide bombing is not as bad as suicide bombing?

It isn’t strictly true that the suffering is all on one side, anyway.  Just as we learn geography through wars, we learn our drone base locations through blowback, in Afghanistan and just recently in Yemen.  Drones make everyone less safe.  As Malala just pointed out to the Obama family, the drone killing fuels terrorism.  Drones also kill with friendly fire.  Drones, with or without weapons, crash.  A lot.  And drones make the initiation of violence easier, more secretive, and more concentrated.  When sending missiles into Syria was made a big public question, we overwhelmed Congress, which said no.  But missiles are sent into other countries all the time, from drones, and we’re never asked.

We’re going to have to speak up for ourselves.

 

Friday Humor: The New Normal Miranda Rights | Zero Hedge

Friday Humor: The New Normal Miranda Rights | Zero Hedge.

 

Tsunami of Public Outrage Builds in Colorado as Fracking Invades Cities

Tsunami of Public Outrage Builds in Colorado as Fracking Invades Cities.

 

North American Monsoon batters US and Mexico – Americas – Al Jazeera English

North American Monsoon batters US and Mexico – Americas – Al Jazeera English.

 

Pig farms hit by ‘devastating’ virus | Toronto Star

Pig farms hit by ‘devastating’ virus | Toronto Star.

 

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