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Drug Prohibition: Still Stupid


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California Escalates the Stupid Drug War
 

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Having utterly failed to end the marijuana black market in California, lawmakers have decided to backslide into the drug war by increasing fines on those who operate outside of the state's very costly and tightly regulated legal cannabis system.

California will begin 2022 not just by increasing taxes on legal marijuana cultivation but also by introducing new fines against anybody "aiding and abetting" any unlicensed dealers in the state.

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instead of eliminating or reducing these taxes, the state is instead taking a more punitive approach. And it's not just lawmakers looking to make sure the state is getting its cut of the money. The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Blanca E. Rubio (D–Baldwin Park), but the Assembly analysis of her proposal explains that it was co-sponsored by the United Cannabis Business Association and The United Food and Commercial Western (UFCW) States Council, the union that represents some licensed cannabis industry workers. Several licensed cannabis industries and trade groups have also signed on in support.

"[T]he illicit cannabis market must be shut down to ensure that legal operators can see an increase of patients and consumers which creates union jobs, and increase revenue for childcare workers," states a message of support by the United Cannabis Business Association. In the old days of the war on drugs, enforcers insisted police needed to shut down drug dealers in order to protect the children. Now a cannabis trade organization says police need to shut down the illegal drug dealers in order to protect subsidies for state-funded childcare workers. Somehow it's all still about the children, though the list of supporters is big on licensed cannabis companies and groups and bereft of any actual child welfare organizations.

The bill was opposed by several human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Action California and the Drug Policy Alliance. They know full well exactly what's going to happen when this starts getting enforced.

"A.B. 1138 unnecessarily adds upon existing criminal and civil penalties and exposes low-income, wage-earning employees to particular harm. The bill subjects employees with no equity stake in the business to severe civil sanctions, potentially higher than those applicable to the owners of these operations," the ACLU warns in a State Senate analysis. "Unpaid fines could expose these individuals to driver's license suspension, arrest, jail, and wage garnishment. These civil penalties would be brought by the same prosecutor's office that may charge criminal violations. Threatened with both jail time and onerous fines, a low-income person might be coerced into pleading unjustly to avoid the threat of massive fines and unpayable debt.

"In addition, because the bill would allow the proceeds of enforcement efforts to be retained by the prosecuting entities rather than deposited into the General Fund, this may lead to inequitably aggressive enforcement efforts in some communities and prosecution units created solely to generate cannabis fine revenue."

There's also a Section 230 angle to this bill. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act generally provides websites and platforms from being liable for content posted by third parties, even if these people are, for example, unlicensed dealers posting cannabis ads. Some cannabis business representatives have been pushing for California to try to force illegal marijuana sales off the internet.

Weedmaps, a California-based platform for vendors, was a big target. The site used to have more than 5,600 listings from which consumers could order marijuana. But California has only about 1,200 licensed vendors, so that meant thousands of listings were from unlicensed dealers. Under pressure, Weedmaps pledged to drop unlicensed dealers back at the start of 2020. While many of them are gone, unlicensed vendors seem to be able to find ways to get around restrictions on this self-publishing platform.

UFCW makes it very clear they want the state to target online platforms for enforcement under A.B. 1138: "This bill will ensure that illegal and unlicensed cannabis operators will not be able to advertise on an internet website, online service, online application, or mobile application."

But the internal analysis by the state's Assembly warns that this might not happen the way the bill's supporters think it will. The analysis warns that back when she was California's attorney general, Kamala Harris' first attempt to go after Backpage in 2016 for sex trafficking ads was a big bust because the site was covered by Section 230's protections. Those protections were deliberately stripped away by Congress when it passed H.R. 1865, better known as SESTA-FOSTA. But while SESTA-FOSTA may make it possible for the feds to prosecute site operators for hosting sex trafficking, the bill does not mention drugs or drug-dealing. And so the analysis warns "federal law remains a substantial impediment to enforcement against advertisers of cannabis businesses."

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The ACLU is right again. Section 230 is still right. Just as anti-abortion people are trying to attach crippling liability to abortion and just as grabbers are trying to attach crippling liability to gun ownership, drug warriors want to attach crippling liability to cannabis sales. It's the American way, I guess, but it's dangerously foolish.

A smarter approach would be to lower taxes and regulations enough that the legal operators could compete, but the state is TeamD and lowering taxes and regulations are just not ever on the list of things to do.

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Cannabis Sativa vs COVID
 

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Hemp, known scientifically as Cannabis sativa, is a source of fiber, food and animal feed, and multiple hemp extracts and compounds are added to cosmetics, body lotions, dietary supplements and food, van Breemen said.

Van Breemen and collaborators, including scientists at Oregon Health & Science University, found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, blocking a critical step in the process the virus uses to infect people.

The compounds are cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA, and the spike protein is the same drug target used in COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapy. A drug target is any molecule critical to the process a disease follows, meaning its disruption can thwart infection or disease progression.

"These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts," van Breemen said. "They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans. And our research showed the hemp compounds were equally effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2, including variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa."

Those two variants are also known the alpha and beta variant, respectively.

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Hmm... those plants look a lot like the dreaded killer marijuana, not something harmless like cannabis sativa. More research is probably needed.

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On 11/29/2021 at 9:49 AM, Pertinacious Tom said:
On 10/21/2021 at 8:07 AM, Seriatim Tom said:

She's a lot like prohibition itself.

Still stupid, but successful

Continuing her anti-marijuana campaign, Kristi Noem Wants Marijuana Activists To Pay Legal Bill For Her Lawsuit That Blocked Legalization
 

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The governor of South Dakota wants marijuana activists behind a 2020 legalization initiative that her administration overturned with a court challenge to pay the legal fees, rather than have taxpayers foot the bill for her fight to invalidate the voter-approved measure.

After South Dakota voters passed the ballot proposal to legalize cannabis for adult use in the state, Gov. Kristi Noem’s (R) administration funded a lawsuit that led to a court ruling voiding the law—a decision upheld by the state Supreme Court last year when justices affirmed that the measure is unconstitutional because it violated a single subject rule for ballot initiatives.

Now a spokesperson for Noem’s office says that advocates with South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) should cover the legal costs, arguing that they were forewarned that the reform proposal could face a legal challenge.

Ian Fury, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, told The Argus Leader that the “proponents of Amendment A submitted an unconstitutional amendment and should reimburse South Dakota taxpayers for the costs associated with their drafting errors.”

SDBML, which remains committed to enacting the marijuana policy change either legislatively or with another ballot initiative, called it a “ridiculous” request.

“South Dakota cannabis reform advocates have no obligation to pay for Governor Noem’s political crusade to overturn the will of the people,” Matthew Schweich, campaign director of SDBML, said. “Driven by her desire to deprive South Dakotans of personal freedom on cannabis, Governor Noem went out of her way to create an unnecessary legal battle over Amendment A and used taxpayer money to do it.”

Taxpayers are currently on the hook for at least $142,000 in legal fees that the administration paid, according to The Argus Leader.

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She has more recently backed off a bit on treating cannabis as a drug, at least if you're over 21. Those under 21 will have to continue to settle for less dangerous things like opiates. Because that makes as much sense as the rest of the stupid drug war.

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The Judicial Branch Needs More Sailors
 

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K-9 units faced some competition from human crime sniffers in Des Moines, Iowa, after three officers claimed olfactory prowess during a traffic stop on October 5, 2019. Court documents from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit revealed that the officers claimed to detect marijuana while driving behind the defendant, Vernon Shumaker. 

The officers testified that they detected less than one gram of marijuana in a closed container coming from a moving car, a football field's length away, while a hefty breeze cut across traffic. They supposedly picked up the scent of burning marijuana through the open windows of their patrol car and pinpointed the source to a specific vehicle, two cars ahead of them.

Officers insisted "without a shadow of a doubt" that the whiff gave them probable cause to stop the car. They discovered a few unlit marijuana blunts stashed in a covered ashtray. They also found a gun, leading to Shumakers' arrest for being a felon and drug user in possession of a firearm.

Prosecutors had what they needed for conviction, though they faced one small hurdle, the Fourth Amendment. Officers must have probable cause before they conduct searches and seizures. Yet when Shumaker filed a motion to suppress evidence—based on the limits of human noses—the district court sided with the officers. The 8th Circuit upheld the ruling on December 29, 2021.

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The director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center testified on Shumaker's behalf, stating that the government's case reeked of misconduct. The prosecution followed up with their own expert witness from Desert Snow, a multi-million dollar company that trains cops on civil forfeiture proceedings, who claimed that humans can do amazing things with their noses so long as they have the proper "training and experience." And this assertion was good enough to pass judicial review. 

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Really? They could tell which car had the stinky bud from a couple of cars back in traffic with a strong crosswind? They got a looting expert to say so and a couple of different judges to believe it, so I guess that's the way it is.

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Why Louisiana is quirky in several and different ways, the upcoming US Senate race.  If you don't get a chuckle out of this, then you're just no fun.

Republican Incumbent John Kennedy is always good for a quirky turn of phrase, in a faux-redneck dialect. 

His Democratic challenger, here we go...

https://www.audacy.com/wwl/news/local/u-s-senate-candidate-smokes-marijuana-blunt-in-campaign-ad

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2 hours ago, nolatom said:

Why Louisiana is quirky in several and different ways, the upcoming US Senate race.  If you don't get a chuckle out of this, then you're just no fun.

Republican Incumbent John Kennedy is always good for a quirky turn of phrase, in a faux-redneck dialect. 

His Democratic challenger, here we go...

https://www.audacy.com/wwl/news/local/u-s-senate-candidate-smokes-marijuana-blunt-in-campaign-ad

Hell, Kennedy's bullshit persona pisses me off so much I'd vote for a dead iguana instead.

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7 hours ago, nolatom said:

 

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The ad was filmed in New Orleans and shows Chambers sitting in an armchair in a field as he lights and puffs on a blunt.

“For too long, candidates have used the legalization of marijuana as an empty talking point in order to appeal to progressive voters,” said Gary Chambers, in a press release. “I hope this ad works to not only destigmatize the use of marijuana, but also forces a new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology.”

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I agree with him but am not sure a blunt is the best way to illustrate a beneficial drug. Not a blunt guy myself, but isn't that kinda half cigar, half joint? NTTIAWWT, I've smoked has by mixing it in a tobacco cigarette. But that's smoking tobacco too, so kind of a mixed message on medical cannabis.

I'm learning more than I'd care to about the many ways to use it as my brother's cancer progresses. There are patches and little syringes with extracts and edibles and even pre-rolled joints and various ways to use those and more I still don't know. And none of them come with tobacco.

 

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