Category Archives: Drugs

TTC Claims To Be Testing For Drug Impairment, Even When It’s Impossible

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AlternativeFreePress.com

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) recently implemented a new random drug testing policy, and a TTC driver has apparently tested positive for being impaired while on duty.

According to the Toronto Star, The TTC claims the tests detect whether someone is impaired at the time, not whether they use drug or alcohol while off-duty. Of course, that’s impossible when it comes to Cannabis. The TTC will not disclose what substance the driver tested positive for, but does say that the test detects several common intoxicants including marijuana.

There are several problems with testing for Cannabis impairment…

1. Medical use. A medical user may actually need Cannabis to function properly and could be impaired by not using their medication.

2. Tolerance. Habitual users typically do not become impaired from regular use due to their high tolerance. While a new user may become impaired from a small dose, a habitual user could feel practically no effect from the same amount. Cannabis smoking history plays a major role in cannabinoid detection.

3. Measuring impairment is impossible. Studies have shown that measuring THC can’t determine impairment. Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that while state statute makes it illegal for a driver to be impaired by marijuana, the presence of a non-psychoactive compound does not constitute impairment under the law. A daily user could have consumed the night before and test positive the following morning while completely sober after a full night sleep.

4. Dozens of studies have shown that Cannabis users are safe drivers & states that have legalized Cannabis have seen a drop in traffic fatalities.

So, when the TTC claims they are testing only for impairment on the job, that’s not actually true.

What they are doing, is applying obstinate opinions, prejudices, and intolerance to those whose chemical profile appears one way versus those whose chemical profile appears another way.

Written by Alternative Free Press
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TTC Claims To Be Testing For Drug Impairment, Even When It’s Impossible by AlternativeFreePress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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The DEA Has Stolen $3.2 Billion from Americans Without Charges Since 2007

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Michael Krieger
Liberty Blitzkrieg : March 31, 2017

In my post published earlier this week, Recent TSA Molestation Video Proves Americans Have Become Authority Worshipping Slaves, I noted the following:

Yeah, it’s disgusting, inappropriate and anathema to a free people, but that’s the point. We aren’t a free people. We’ve become a bunch of authority-worshiping subjects toiling on a plantation dominated by multi-national companies who write our laws and manipulate our thoughts through corporate media. The worst part is we don’t do anything about it. We elect Trump and then puff our chests out yelling stupid slogans like MAGA, as molestations from the TSA get worse. Well done everyone.

I was pleased that the above paragraph connected with many people, but for those of you who think I was being hyperbolic, take a look at the following excerpts from a piece recently published at The Washington Post, Since 2007, the DEA Has Taken $3.2 Billion in Cash from People Not Charged with a Crime:

The Drug Enforcement Administration takes billions of dollars in cash from people who are never charged with criminal activity, according to a report issued today by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

Since 2007, the report found, the DEA has seized more than $4 billion in cash from people suspected of involvement with the drug trade. But 81 percent of those seizures, totaling $3.2 billion, were conducted administratively, meaning no civil or criminal charges were brought against the owners of the cash and no judicial review of the seizures ever occurred.

Remember, the terrorists hate us for our freedom.

That total does not include the dollar value of other seized assets, like cars, homes, electronics and clothing.

These seizures are all legal under the controversial practice of civil asset forfeiture, which allows authorities to take cash, contraband and property from people suspected of crime. But the practice does not require authorities to obtain a criminal conviction, and it allows departments to keep seized cash and property for themselves unless individuals successfully challenge the forfeiture in court. Critics across the political spectrum say this creates a perverse profit motive, incentivizing police to seize goods not for the purpose of fighting crime, but for padding department budgets.

In the absence of this information, the report examined 100 DEA cash seizures that occurred “without a court-issued warrant and without the presence of narcotics, the latter of which would provide strong evidence of related criminal behavior.”

Fewer than half of those seizures were related to a new or ongoing criminal investigation, or led to an arrest or prosecution, the Inspector General found.

“When seizure and administrative forfeitures do not ultimately advance an investigation or prosecution,” the report concludes, “law enforcement creates the appearance, and risks the reality, that it is more interested in seizing and forfeiting cash than advancing an investigation or prosecution.”

The scope of asset forfeiture is staggering. Since 2007 the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund, which collects proceeds from seized cash and other property, has ballooned to $28 billion. In 2014 alone authorities seized $5 billion in cash and property from people — greater than the value of all documented losses to burglary that year.

Some of the encounters were based on tips from confidential sources working in the travel industry, a number of whom have received large sums of money in exchange for their cooperation. In one case, officers targeted an individual for questioning on a tip from a travel industry informant that the individual had paid for a plane ticket with a pre-paid debit card and cash.

Nope, no conflict of interest there. USA! USA!

Forfeiture cases are also legally complex and difficult for individuals to win. Forfeiture cases are brought against the property, rather than the individual, leading to Kafkaesque case titles like United States v. $8,850 in U.S. Currency and  United States of America v. One Men’s Rolex Pearl Master Watch.

While criminal proceedings assume the defendant’s innocence, forfeiture proceedings start from the presumption of guilt. That means that individuals who fight forfeiture must prove their innocence in court.

Meanwhile, guess who’s a big fan of civil forfeiture? Yep, you guessed it, Mr. MAGA himself, Donald Trump.

(read the full article at Liberty Blitzkrieg

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4 Reasons why Canadians are choosing craft cannabis instead of big business weed

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OrganicCraftCannabis.ca : December 5, 2016

Canadians have several legal avenues for acquiring medical marijuana under Health Canada’s Access To Cannabis For Medical Purposes (ACMPR)…

One option is to buy from one of the dozens of multi-million dollar corporations (known as licensed producers or LPs). However, most Canadians are choosing to source craft cannabis from small independent growers (known as designated growers).

There are several reasons why craft cannabis is superior to large-scale corporate grows:

1. Supporting “ma and pa”. Craft cannabis growers are everyday Canadians, and by supporting them you are helping your local community. Independent growers use the money they earn to feed their families and pay their bills, whereas large corporate producers use their revenue to buy up the competition and inflate their stock value. Large corporate producers are owned by bankers, lawyers, and foreign investors. By using an independent designated grower, you are supporting small local business.

2. Price. Craft cannabis is more affordable than corporate weed. While the big corporations, are charging up to $14/gram for certified organic cannabis, you won’t pay more than $7/gram from an OrganicCraftCannabis.ca designated grower.

3. Pesticides. The big corporations are regulated by strict regulations which actually prevent them from spraying natural pest-deterrent products such as neem oil. Big corporate growers can use numerous government approved pesticides which contain both harmful and undisclosed ingredients. OrganicCraftCannabis.ca designated growers do not use any pesticides, instead relying on organic solutions such as beneficial predator insects, neem oil, and mineral oil for pest control.

4. Love. Large-scale commercial-size grow operations are nothing new and the product produced by large-scale operations has been known as “commercial crap” by cannabis connoisseurs since long before the government started to license corporations to grow. When growing on an industrial scale, quality takes a hit. Yes, the large corporate operations are paying for “quality assurance”, but standardized operating procedures are no replacement for the love put in by designated growers. Corporate producers are working for shareholders and investors to produce as large a profit margin as possible. OrganicCraftCannabis.ca designated growers love Cannabis and grow small batches which can be cared for properly.

Source: OrganicCraftCannabis.ca

OrganicCraftCannabis.ca connects Canadians with independent designated growers to supply them with legal Cannabis under Health Canada’s Access To Cannabis For Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

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Government of Canada Ramps Up Failed Prohibitionist Tactics In Futile Effort To Stop Fentanyl

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AlternativeFreePress.com

The Government of Canada continues to double down on failed prohibitionist policies in it’s fight against opioid overdoses, despite overwhelming evidence that such tactics are ineffective.

Within the past couple of weeks we have been told that Health Canada has published regulations controlling six chemicals used in the production of fentanyl, and that the RCMP and China’s public security ministry have agreed to increase their efforts to interrupt the flow of fentanyl and other opioids. However, these are just more of the same prohibitionist policies which created this problem.

If the government actually wants to help stop this crisis, they do have the means. It is only a question of will. Last month a Justice Department research paper was publicized which states that decriminalizing drugs could result in lower rates of use, addiction, and overdoses. The study says that “It is becoming more challenging to justify the criminalization of drug users,”

Earlier this year, prescription heroin became available to addicts in Canada. That is a step in the right direction, and that access should be promoted and encouraged. Most addicts will not buy street drugs if they can get their fix legally and more affordably from a pharmacist or doctor. Fentanyl is much stronger than heroin, so unfortunately the act of legalizing heroin may have occurred too late as most of the street heroin is apparently cut with fentanyl. Some fentanyl addicts may be able to switch to prescription heroin, but also providing access to legal fentanyl would certainly help reduce the black market demand further.

Increasing law enforcement efforts and tightening regulations has never succeeded at stopping illegal drugs, and in fact has only made the drugs more dangerous. The increased use of illicit synthetic opioids is a direct result of prohibitionist policies. Even if law enforcement did somehow manage to stop the flow of fentanyl, it would just be replaced by more carfentanyl or W-18, which are a hundred times more potent. Prohibition doesn’t work.

Sources:
RCMP to work with China to fight flow of fentanyl to Canada
Health Canada Regulates Chemicals Used to Make Fentanyl “Report”
Drug decriminalization would lead to fewer overdoses, addiction: federal study

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Magic mushrooms help people with cancer face death, says new research

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Canada Journal: December 2, 1016

Magic mushrooms, once associated mostly with Phish concerts, may lead to better end-of-life care for cancer patients. One dose of the active ingredient, psilocybin, can help terminal cancer patients experience less depression and anxiety even six months later.

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and NYU Langone Medical Centre in New York carried out trials on a total of 80 volunteers with cancer who had reported symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Participants were given either a high dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, or a placebo. They then took part in a psychotherapy session during which they were encouraged to focus on their inner experiences while researchers monitored them. A few weeks later, the patients had a second session with the other drug.

In the Johns Hopkins study, 83 per cent of participants reported “decreases in measures of depression, anxiety and mood disturbance, and increases in measures of quality of life, life meaning, death acceptance and optimism”, New Scientist reports.

The effect appears to be long lasting. “Six months after the final session of treatment, about 80 per cent of participants continued to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety,” Medical Xpress reports.

The Guardian reports that the effects of magic mushrooms have been of interest to psychiatry since the 1950s, but the hardening of the US government’s attitude towards recreational drug use after the late 1960s created “daunting legal and financial obstacles to running trials” with psychedelics.

(read the full article at Canada Journal)

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Canadian Medical Association likes gangs selling pot to kids

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AlternativeFreePress.com
September 8, 2016

Canada’s doctors are calling for strict limits on legalized pot smoking, saying the minimum age should be 21, while home growing and smoking non-medical marijuana in public places should be prohibited, the Toronto Star reports. They also want the amounts and potency of products sold to those under 25 to be tightly controlled.

Of course, if the federal government listens to these suggestions, it will simply encourage the continuation of the black market, particularly among youth.

Prohibition doesn’t work, that’s a big part of why Cannabis is about to be legalized in Canada. The Canadian Medical Association is encouraging policy which will maintain the black market for Cannabis in schools and continue to criminalize kids for doing what kids do.

Not only would such asinine policy continue to subject our kids to unnecessary police harassment, but the cost of enforcing these policies would negate much of the economic benefit of legalization. How many taxpayers want to pay for police officers to hunt down pot smokers to verify their age and test potency? How many taxpayers want teens arrested for enjoying a joint instead of alcohol?

Cannabis is a plant, with lower toxicity than a tomato plant. Children can become ill and in extreme cases die if they consume too much tomato plant leaves. Children can also die from consuming energy drinks, in fact an international research team, led by Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar of Madrid, Spain, has concluded that energy drinks are the cause of many sudden cardiac deaths in young, healthy individuals. Cannabis has never killed anyone, it is safer than alcohol, it is safer than energy drinks, it is safer than tomato plants.

The Liberal government has promised repeatedly to “regulate and control” cannabis, so I have no doubt that they will adopt most of these asinine prohibitionist policies.

Sources:
https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/09/07/doctors-say-pot-smoking-should-be-banned-for-canadians-under-21.html
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-900-tomato.aspx?activeingredientid=900&activeingredientname=tomato#vit_sideeffects
http://www.onlinecjc.ca/article/S0828-282X(14)01667-5/fulltext

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RCMP ignorant of reality, wasting tax dollars researching useless roadside pot tests

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AlternativeFreePress.com

Police across Canada will be testing three roadside devices on suspected drug-impaired drivers, despite the fact that none of the three devices can measure impairment.

It seems the RCMP are either ignorant of, or ignoring reality. Proving that someone has consumed cannabis does not determine if someone is driving while impaired. A recreational user may have a strong enough tolerance to not be impaired, and a medical marijuana user may actually need their medication to drive safely.

Courts in other jurisdictions have already found that testing for Cannabis consumption does not prove impairment. Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that while state statute makes it illegal for a driver to be impaired by marijuana, the presence of a non-psychoactive compound does not constitute impairment under the law.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party claims to support science, but if that claim is in any way true, they will drop this silly notion that measuring THC levels can determine a driver’s ability.

In 1983 a study by the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) tested drivers on simulators, and concluded that the only statistically significant effect associated with marijuana use was slower driving.

A NHTSA study in 1992 found that marijuana is rarely involved in driving accidents, except when combined with alcohol, concluding, “the THC-only drivers had an [accident] responsibility rate below that of the drug free drivers. While the difference was not statistically significant, there was no indication that cannabis by itself was a cause of fatal crashes.”

A separate NHTSA study from1993 tested Dutch drivers high on THC on real Dutch roads, concluding, “THC’s adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small.”

In 1998 a study by the University of Adelaide and Transport South Australia analyzed blood samples from 2,500 accidents, and found that drivers with cannabis in their system were less likely to cause accidents than those without.

A University of Toronto study from 1999 found that cannabis users typically refrained from passing cars and drove at a more consistent speed than sober drivers.

A 2014 study concluded “Cannabis smoking history plays a major role in cannabinoid detection. These differences may impact clinical and impaired driving drug detection.”

In 2015 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a study concluding that driving after smoking marijuana does not make you more likely to get into a car crash — especially when compared to driving after alcohol consumption.

Source links for all of these studies can be found within our previous articles:

Study Shows THC Blood Tests Can’t Test Impairment

Arizona Supreme Court Rules Cannabis Drug Test Does Not Prove Impairment

Marijuana Doesn’t Make You More Likely To Crash Your Car

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Prohibition kills 5 people at music festival in Argentina

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AlternativeFreePress.com

At least five people have died and five others are in critically condition caused by drug use at a music festival in Buenos Aires say Argentine health officials.

At the Time Warp festival two people died on Friday, followed by three more deaths in an ambulance or at a hospital.

Repealing prohibition so that people can legally access drugs of verified purity, would likely prevent these types of death. Without a legal market, consumers will continue to be killed by lethal adulterants.

Sources:
The Associated Press

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15 News Stories from 2015 You Should Have Heard About But Probably Didn’t

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Carey Wedler
theAntiMedia.org : December 30, 2015

In 2015, the iron fist of power clamped down on humanity, from warfare to terrorism (I repeat myself) to surveillance, police brutality, and corporate hegemony. The environment was repeatedly decimated, the health of citizens was constantly put at risk, and the justice system and media alike were perverted to serve the interests of the powers that be.

However, while 2015 was discouraging for more reasons than most of us can count, many of the year’s most underreported stories evidence not only a widespread pattern that explicitly reveals the nature of power, but pushback from human beings worldwide on a path toward a better world.

 1. CISA Pushed Through the Senate, Effectively Clamping Down on Internet Freedom: For years, Congress has attempted to legalize corporate and state control of the internet. In 2011, they attempted to pass PIPA and SOPA, companion bills slammed by internet and tech companies and ultimately defeated after overwhelming public outcry. Then they passed  CISPA — which the president threatened to veto, having caught wind of the public’s opposition to heavy regulation of the internet (earlier this year, Obama reversed his position). However, corporate interests, like Hollywood’s studio monopoly, kept lawmakers’ tenacity afloat.

In October, Congress passed CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, but as the Electronic Freedom Foundation explained: “CISA is fundamentally flawed. The bill’s broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying powers combine to make the bill a surveillance bill in disguise. Further, the bill does not address problems from the recent highly publicized computer data breaches that were caused by unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links.” Just before Christmas, Congress went even further, adding an amendment to the annual omnibus budget bill that strips CISA’s minimal privacy provisions even more. That budget bill was approved, though Representative Justin Amash of Michigan has vowed to introduce legislation to repeal the CISA provisions when Congress reconvenes.

But CISA wasn’t the only attack on citizens’ privacy this year. Though lawmakers touted the USA Freedom Act as a repeal of the mass surveillance state, in reality, it simply added a bureaucratic step to the process by which government agencies obtain private information. Further, a hack on Italian security firm, aptly called Hacker Tools, revealed that various agencies — including the DEA, NSA, Army, and FBI — possess software that enables them to, as Anti-Media reported, “view suspects’ photos, emails, listen to and record their conversations, and activate the cameras on their computers…” At the same time, the United Kingdom and France moved to tighten their already comprehensive surveillance apparatuses in the wake of multiple terrorist attacks. Though governments claim systematic surveillance is necessary to protect citizens — and Snowden’s leaks endangered that safety — the United States government has been unable to produce sufficient evidence the programs work. Instead, the documents the Department of Defense released this year as proof of the alleged endangerment were entirely redacted.

2. CIA Whistleblower Sent to Prison for Revealing Damning Information to a Journalist: While the government has no problem invading the privacy of its citizens, it offers swift backlash for those who attempt to violate its own clandestine operations. Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent, had his first altercation with the CIA when he sued for racial discrimination in 2001. He was subsequently fired. Years later, the CIA filed espionage charges against him for speaking with New York Times journalist, James Risen. Sterling had revealed a botched CIA scheme, Operation Merlin, to infiltrate Iranian intelligence that ultimately worsened the situation, gave Iran a nuclear blueprint, and was deemed by some to be espionage, itself. Rather than acknowledge the woeful misstep, the CIA arrested him, charged him, and ultimately sentenced him to 42 months in prison. The trial was reportedly biased, but nevertheless, was severely underreported by the media. Sterling’s conviction reflects the ongoing war on whistleblowers, which Obama has successfully expanded during his presidency. Sterling joins the ranks of Edward Snowden, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, and others, including a whistleblower who worked for OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program and was fired for exposing dysfunction and incompetence within the ranks.

3. Press Freedom Continued to Deteriorate: An annual report from the World Press Freedom Index saw the United States slip 29 spots from last year, landing 49th out of 180 total. In January, journalist Barrett Brown was sentenced to five years in prison for exposing the findings of hacker Jeremy Hammond. Brown was charged with obstructing justice, aiding and abetting, and separate charges of allegedly threatening the FBI in a rant. Hammond, who exposed severe violations of privacy on the part of Stratfor, a CIA contractor, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Brown’s experience was not an isolated incident. Journalists around the world, like several journalists who were killed while investigating ISIS in Turkey, faced increased danger. One small-town journalist in India was burned alive after exposing a corrupt politician.

4. Multiple Activists Arrested, Charged with Felonies for Educating Jurors About Their Rights: In an ongoing trend, otherwise peaceful, non-violent individuals were harassed by police and courts — not for exposing secret information, but for providing information to potential jurors about their rights in the courtroom. One Denver jury nullification activist, followed by another, was charged with multiple felonies for handing out pamphlets that explain a juror’s right to vote “not guilty” in a verdict, even if the defendant is clearly guilty. This right was established to allow jurors to vote with their conscience and question the morality of laws, from the 19th century’s Fugitive Slave Act to Prohibition, both of alcohol in the 1920s and of marijuana today. The Denver activists are awaiting trial, while more recently, a former pastor was charged with a felony for the same reason.

In other unjust convictions and failings of the “justice” system, an African-American man was sentenced to seven years in prison for barking at a police dog, a Kansas mother faces decades in prison for using marijuana to treat her debilitating Crohn’s disease, and a mentally ill man died in jail after being held for stealing five dollars worth of snacks from a convenience store. He had inexplicably been waiting months to be transferred to a medical facility. Ross Ulbricht, founder of the dark web marketplace, the Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison in spite of the fact that he committed no violent crimes — though the FBI attempted to paint a false picture that he did, albeit without filing formal charges. The prosecution was rife with corruption and scandal; two FBI agents involved in the case were charged with stealing Bitcoin during the investigation. In July, one admitted to stealing $700,000 worth of the digital currency.

5. Six-Year-Old Autistic Boy Killed by Police: 2015 established not only that the justice system remains broken, but the the enforcement class — police officers — continues to terrorize citizens. In one underreported case, a six-year-old boy was fatally caught in the crossfire of a police shootout against his father, who was unarmed. In another case, an African-American motorist was shot and killed by University of Cincinnati police over a missing front license plate. While high-profile cases of misconduct, including Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland, rightly dominated the news cycle, many more cases of police brutality received little attention. In fact, in 2015, it was revealed not only that the media-propagated “War on Cops” in America was a myth, but that American police kill exponentially more people in weeks than other countries’ police kill in years. On the bright side, many police officers did face charges — and even prosecution — in 2015, including one repeat rapist who recently cried upon being convicted of his crimes. The officers involved in the shooting of the six-year-old boy were also charged with murder.

6. Earth Enters Sixth Mass Extinction: 2015, like many years before, was disastrous for the environment. Researchers from Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton determined Earth is entering its sixth mass extinction, reporting that species are disappearing at a rate 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions. Further, thanks, in part, to the widespread use of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide, populations of bees and Monarch butterflies dwindled — though, happily, the Monarchs appear to have bounced back. Polar bears also met continued endangerment.

The much-anticipated Paris Climate Conference yielded what many environmental activists deemed weak, if not fraudulent, solutions. Meanwhile, man-made environmental catastrophes endangered humans. In Flint, Michigan, lead levels in the water led to increased rates of contamination in children’s blood, prompting the mayor to declare a state of emergency. A massive methane gas leak in the San Fernando Valley, located just north of Los Angeles, has sickened residents and forced countless families to relocate. Authorities have been unable to stop the leak.

Thankfully, some measures to help the environment were taken in 2015, including creative solutions to stop animal poaching, the first flight of a solar-powered plane, the launch of a solar-powered airport in India, and Costa Rica’s successful effort to draw 99% of its energy from renewable sources.

7. Civilian Casualties in Western Wars Continue: Though ISIS and other terrorist groups were rightly condemned for killing civilians in 2015, the West pointed fingers while committing the same crimes. In fact, one U.N. report released in September found U.S. drone strikes have killed more civilians in Yemen than al-Qaeda. Another analysis released this year concluded Obama’s ongoing drone wars have killed more people than were murdered during the Spanish Inquisition. Though the U.S. military’s bombing of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital received global attention and outrage, many other incidents went underreported. In May, one U.S. airstrike on Syria killed 52 civilians in one fell swoop. Additionally, U.S.-backed coalitions have bombed civilian populations, like in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia killed at least 500 children, not to mention two thousand more adult civilians. In other egregious misdeeds, it was revealed that the U.S. military sanctions pedophilia in Afghanistan.

8. Insurrection at the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency Over Misleading Reports on ISIS: Over the summer, dissent grew within the ranks of the DIA, the Pentagon’s internal intelligence agency. In September, news broke that 50 intelligence analysts filed a report with the Department of Defense’s Inspector General to expose their superiors’ alleged manipulation of intelligence. The intention of the coverup was reportedly to downplay the threat of ISIS and the U.S.’s losing effort to fight it, all to maintain the Obama administration’s narrative the bombing campaigns have been successful.

Similar mishandlings of foreign affairs plagued 2015. It was revealed that the Pentagon had no idea what it did with $8.5 trillion, lost track of $500 million worth of weapons and equipment, and spent $43 million on a single gas station in Afghanistan. A DIA report released in June intimated the military was aware of the rising threat of ISIS, and not only allowed it, but welcomed it. The program to train moderate rebels in the fight cost half a billion dollars but yielded only four or five fighters. Further, multiple generals spoke out this year about the U.S. military’s role in creating ISIS. Additionally, news broke in 2015 that one ISIS recruiter had previously been trained by infamous Iraq War profiteer, Blackwater.

9. Activists Inch a Small Step Closer to Exposing the Actors Behind 9/11: Though few Americans heard about it, in August, a New York judge allowed a trial to move forward that could expose a potential government cover-up in the notorious terrorist attack. The ruling was tepid, allowing a 60 to 90 day window for the case to be dismissed or proceed. A later ruling hindered the effort, citing a lack of evidence; but activists have not stopped fighting for the release of 28 redacted pages from the 9/11 commission report that allegedly implicate Saudi Arabia (a majority of the hijackers on 9/11 were of Saudi origin).

Whatever the truth may be, 2015 witnessed growing doubts about the Saudi government, which beheaded more people than ISIS this year. It also sentenced a poet to beheading for writing poetry about his experience as a refugee from Palestine, sentenced a young man, Ali al-Nimr, to crucifixion for participating in anti-government protests, attempted to issue 350 lashings to a British man in possession of wine (though the U.K. intervened on his behalf, and that of al-Nimr; neither will be punished), and initiated a punishment of 1,000 lashings for a pro-democracy blogger, Raif Badawi.

10. The FDA Approved OxyContin for Use in Children: Though the approval of the powerful, addictive painkiller for use in 11-year-olds and younger children was unsurprising to those who follow the agency’s track record, the FDA’s justification was shocking. After lawmakers wrote a letter expressing concern to the FDA, the agency’s spokesperson, Eric Pahon, said the news was, in fact, not that serious because it was already standard practice. It’s important to stress that this approval was not intended to expand or otherwise change the pattern of use of extended-release opioids in pediatric patients,” Pahon said. “Doctors were already prescribing it to children, without the safety and efficacy data in hand with regard to the pediatric population.

However disturbing, the FDA’s decision comported with other related events this year: President Obama appointed a pharmaceutical lobbyist Deputy Commissioner of medical and tobacco products, a study found swaths of heroin users graduate from prescription painkillers, and similarly, 75% of high school students who used heroin had previously abused pharmaceuticals.

In other stories regarding the misconduct of agencies tasked with keeping people safe, the FDA continued to allow meat companies to use a pharmaceutical additive banned in 150 countries, while whistleblowers at the USDA revealed several plants were producing pork products filled with fingernails, hair, bile, and feces.

11. The Federal Government Admitted Cannabis May Help Fight Brain Cancer: Though the government has long known about the medical benefits of cannabis — it holds patents on several medicinal qualities — the National Institute on Drug Abuse made waves this year when it published a document acknowledging the healing properties of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive endocannabinoid. In particular, it noted “[e]vidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors.” Though more research is needed, the government’s admission was unexpected, albeit welcomed by many cannabis enthusiasts. Other studies this year suggested cannabis may help heal broken bones and is associated with lower rates of obesity.

Though many Americans still faced criminal prosecution for treating themselves and their children with cannabis, 2015 demonstrated the long-term trend of decriminalization and legalization will not be reversed. Nations around the world, from Ireland to Costa Rica to Canada laid groundwork to legalize marijuana to various degrees, while a majority of Americans now support legalization.

12. Nestle Paid $524 to Plunder the Public’s Water Resources: This year, Anti-Media reported on the insidious relationship between Nestle and the Forest Service in California. The investigation found not only that Nestle was using an expired permit to turn exponential profit on 27 million gallons of water, but that a former Forest Service official went on to consult for the company.

While corporate exploitation ran rampant in 2015, many countries around the world fought back. India sued Nestle after finding one of its products contained lead, while nations around the world banned Monsanto and GE products. Scotland, Denmark, and Bulgaria, among others, all moved to ban GE crops, while multiple lawsuits, highlighted the serious potential health consequences of the widespread use of pesticides (though the EPA disputed that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, was an endocrine disrupter in June, in November, news broke that the majority of studies the EPA used to make its decision were funded by industry). Though corporate power remains all but monolithic, 2015 saw humans across the world rise up to resist it. Most recently (and comically), a proposed initiative in California is about to enter the next phase — signature gathering — to place it on the 2016 ballot. If placed on the ballot and passed, it will force California legislators to wear the logos of their top ten donors while they participate in legislative activities. The effort has drawn widespread praise and enthusiasm.

13. Establishment Caught Manipulating News to Fit Narratives: Following the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, contentious protests broke out, eventually resulting in limited rioting and looting. However, while the media attempted to paint protesters as aggressive, it failed to report officers’ prolonged prohibition of their physical movement, to say nothing of the riot gear police showed up wearing. After being unable to move, a brick was thrown, but the media failed to report the instigation and discrimination law enforcement imposed that ultimately led the students and protesters to grow unruly.

In other manipulations, it was revealed that one Fox News contributor lied about his experience as a CIA agent; he had never been employed at the agency, and only obtained later national security jobs by lying about his CIA experience. Further, CBS edited out comments from Muslims, who discussed U.S. foreign policy as a driver of Islamic extremism during a televised focus group.

A study by fact checker, Politifact, revealed that all the major outlets surveyed — Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC— consistently report half-truths and lies. It is little wonder, then, that another survey found only 7% of Americans still harbor “a great deal of trust” in the mainstream media.

Still, it wasn’t just the media that lied. On multiple occasions, government employees were caught attempting to distort facts. In March, news emerged that an IP address linked to the NYPD had attempted to edit the Wikipedia page on Eric Garner. Computers inside Britain’s parliament were linked to attempted edits on pages detailing sex scandals, among other transgressions. In a related story, the FBI reported it had foiled yet another terrorist plot, and once again, it was revealed the culprits were provided support from an informant working for the bureau. Further, in August, Wikileaks released cables that showed an American lobbyist for Saudi Arabia organized a $6 million ad campaign against the president’s nuclear deal with Iran, all through a well-funded group called the “American Security Initiative.” The lobbyist, Norm Coleman, is a former Republican senator.

14. TPP: In one of the most widely-contested pieces of legislation in recent memory, the Trans-Pacific Partnership moved forward, often in secret. The TPP has been condemned as a corporate power grab that ensures profit for pharmaceutical companies, among many other loathed industries. From clamping down on internet freedom to effectively sanctioning sex trafficking, TPP signals an ominous fate for the future of freedom.

15. Sharp Uptick in Islamophobia: Amid the carnage of the Paris terror attacks, the recent shooting in San Bernardino, and the surge in Syrian refugees seeking asylum in Western nations, attacks against Muslims skyrocketed in 2015. In the United States, Muslims have been attacked for praying in public, wearing traditional head scarves, and for simply being out in public. Sikhs have been caught in the crossfire for the crime of being brown and wearing cloth on their heads — and thus being confused with Muslims — while at least one Christian has been terrorized as a result of the unmitigated hate currently permeating modern society. Many European nations and U.S. states have rejected the influx of refugees from war-torn Syria.

Amid the increased hate against Muslims, however, has come an outpouring of love and tolerance. Muslim groups across the world have condemned terror attacks, raised money to help the families of victims, and promoted programs to discourage extremism. At the same time, citizens across Europe, Canada, and even parts of the United States have welcomed Syrian refugees with open arms.

2015 was a year of chaos, violence, hate, and an ongoing struggle of freedom versus oppression. In many ways, it was like the years, decades, and even centuries and millenia that came before. But amid the conflict and often discouraging headlines, humanity has continued to persevere, offering resistance to seemingly all-powerful forces and paving the way for, if nothing else, potential peace, freedom, and respect for human life.

The Anti Media (cc)

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Canada’s Corporate Cannabis Takeover Continues As Pharmacies Look Poised To Distribute

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AlternativeFreePress.com

The future of legalized Cannabis in Canada is bleak if the Liberals continue the Harper regime’s push to corporatize Cannabis. Based on the vague rhetoric promised by Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party platform, that is exactly what we should expect.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is preparing for further corporatization by “reviewing its existing policies to ensure its policy position regarding pharmacist dispensing of medical marijuana reflects patient safety in this evolving area”.

The CPhA has no business distributing Cannabis. If Cannabis is removed from the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act (CDSA), there is no legal justification to restricting distribution to pharmacies. Cannabis is a benign plant with many uses, which gardeners and farmers should be allowed to grow and sell at farmer’s markets freely. Of course, it seems unlikely that Cannabis will be removed from the CDSA, the Liberal version of legalization sounds a lot like prohibition with increased penalties for unlicensed distribution.

Cannabis is medicine, it can be very expensive medicine, so calls for insurance coverage are understandable… but Cannabis is only expensive because of prohibition. Cannabis can be grown for less than $1/gram, but invested MMPR interests want to keep the cost high to cash in on the corporate welfare windfall of health insurance covering medical marijuana.

If Trudeau and the Liberals are serious about “real change” and evidence-based policy then they need to regulate Cannabis based on the potential harm caused by the plant. Cannabis is safer than coffee and energy drinks. Teens have died consuming energy drinks, but they are sold in convenience stores without age restrictions. Nobody has ever died from consuming Cannabis.

Dana Larsen details 7 key things needed before we can consider Cannabis prohibition to be truly over. (here is a brief summary:)

#7. Don’t increase penalties

In some of their campaign literature, the Liberals were promising to create “new, stronger laws, to punish more severely” people who sell cannabis to minors, or to anyone operating outside of their undefined new system.

Considering we already have Harper’s strict mandatory minimums for cannabis offences, we do not need to be punishing anyone “more severely” for anything related to cannabis.

#6. Allow personal growing

Any model of legalization must include the right to grow some cannabis for personal use. People with a doctor’s recommendation for cannabis should be allowed to grow whatever quantity they need for medical purposes. The Conservatives tried to shut down the current home-garden program for patients, but were stopped by a court injunction. That injunction needs to remain, and be expanded to make it easier for patients to grow their own when needed.

If home cultivation is not allowed, then cannabis is not truly legalized in Canada. Canadians must have at least as much right to grow their own cannabis as they do to brew their own beer and wine.

#5. Allow dispensaries

The Liberals need to recognize the important role that community-based dispensaries are playing, and to incorporate them into any legal access system.

Any system of legalization that tries to shut down the existing network of cannabis dispensaries will face strong opposition from Canada’s cannabis community.

#4. License more producers

Whatever the details of the system, it is important that there is equal access to the cannabis market, and that anyone who meets the quality standards can legally grow and sell cannabis.

Ultimately, the federal government should get out of licensing large-scale production and leave that to the provinces. But whoever the regulating and licensing authority is, the system needs to be fair and equal. Any attempt to limit production to a few major companies or create some kind of monopoly or cartel will be met with resistance, and will ultimately fail.

#3. Ditch the medical program

Cannabis is a wonderful medicine with a wide range of therapeutic benefits, but we don’t need a specialized medical cannabis system in Canada. Cannabis extracts should be available as non-prescription drugs for all Canadians to access.

When cannabis or a cannabis extracts is prescribed by a doctor then it should be exempt from GST, like other prescription drugs. But we don’t need the current complex system of restricted access for medical patients once all Canadians have access to legal cannabis.

Doctors should become more knowledgable about cannabis medicines, and legalization should mean that all sorts of new cannabis extracts are readily available for research and medicine. But since cannabis is generally safer than products like aspirin, most cannabis medicines should be sold over the counter, without a need for a prescription.

#2. Amnesty for past convictions

Legalization of cannabis must also include an amnesty for past cannabis convictions, so that those criminal records are erased from the system.

#1. Don’t overtax it

Legal cannabis needs to be cheaper and better than what is currently available, or else no-one is going to buy it. The only way to extinguish the black market is to substantially reduce the price of cannabis.

Any plan for legalization must not include extremely high or punitive taxes, as the result will be a thriving black market and no real change to the status quo.

If Trudeau’s Liberals stick to these 7 principles then legalization will be a success.

But if they try to legalize cannabis in the form of a highly taxed product grown only by big corporations, while banning home gardens and increasing penalties for underground dealers, then legalization will not succeed, and we will still have to keep fighting for a better system.

Jonathan Page is the co-founder of Anandia Labs and an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia. He co-led the Canadian team that reported the first sequence of the cannabis genome and his work has helped elucidate the biochemical pathway leading to the major cannabinoids. Mr Page wrote an article at Lift, here is a very brief summary of a few of his points:

Like Liberal governments before him, Justin Trudeau practiced Big Tent politics to obtain a majority. Similarly, legalization has to offer a Big Tent so that the disparate parts of the existing industry – Licensed Producers (LPs), dispensaries and MMAR growers – are included. Health Canada and the 25+ LPs can be justifiably proud they have created a system to grow and distribute pharmaceutical-grade cannabis. But the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) are viewed as a failure by many for their inability to create a system that both serves patients and creates a viable industry. The Allard injunction, the proliferation of Vancouver dispensaries, the logjam of LP applicants and the slow patient growth for LPs are indicators of systemic problems.
It is possible to safely grow cannabis at many scales from small outdoor gardens to massive indoor factories.The 2013 Liberal Party draft marijuana policy paper (PDF) suggested that production encompass “very small farms to medium size and large-scale operations”. Jamie Shaw of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) wrote a blog post proposing that the cannabis production could resemble Canada’s brewing industry where industrial behemoths like Molson Coors co-exist with craft breweries.

It is difficult to contemplate a system that allows purchase of cannabis but not personal growing. I favour six plants (in flowering stage) with a cap on total plants in a household. The judge’s decision on the Allard case, which revolves around the right of patients to grow their own medical cannabis, now has added importance as legalization is contemplated.

In my opinion cannabis sits somewhere between a controlled substance and an NHP in the regulatory landscape but I don’t think it is productive to treat cannabis as either. Nor is it useful for it to be lumped with alcohol or tobacco. It is simply and uniquely cannabis. Amending laws created for prohibition is not likely to work as they were created to demonize cannabis. Let’s give cannabis its own laws and regulations that allow it to exist simultaneously as a medicine and a social (recreational) drug. Is the solution a pragmatic federal Cannabis Act or even a Psychoactive Substances Act for a new, post-prohibition era?

Written by Alternative Free Press
Creative Commons License
Canada’s Corporate Cannabis Takeover Continues As Pharmacies Look Poised To Distribute by AlternativeFreePress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Mexican Supreme Court Rules Prohibition of Cannabis Unconstitutional

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Claire Bernish
theAntiMedia.org : November 4, 2015

The Mexican Supreme Court just paved the way for nationwide cannabis legalization after voting 4 to 1 that prohibition of personal consumption and cultivation of the plant violates constitutional rights.

In fact, the highest court in the land concluded that cannabis prohibition “violates the right to free development of one’s personality,” as the Drug Policy Alliance stated Wednesday in a press release.

“This vote by Mexico’s Supreme Court is extraordinary for two reasons: it is being argued on human rights grounds and it is taking place in one of the countries that has suffered the most from the war on drugs,” explained Hannah Hetzer, Senior Policy Manager of the Americas for the Alliance. “Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana, Canada is expected soon to follow suit, medical marijuana initiatives are spreading throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and marijuana is legal in a number of U.S. states. Now with this landmark decision out of Mexico, it is clear that the Americas are leading the world in marijuana reform.”

Mexico’s first legal medical marijuana patient made headlines around the world in September when her parents were granted the right to treat her Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome with cannabidiol medication. Eight-year-old “Grace” had suffered nearly 400 epileptic seizures daily — preventing her from walking, attending school, or even speaking.

This ruling by the highest Mexican court further weakens the brutal and notorious drug cartels that have plagued the country with violence, paves the way for legal recreational use, and — hopefully — sets the example for its northern neighbor, the United States.

Source: theantimedia.org(cc)

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Our laws and policies are more racist than the officers who enforce them

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Police Killings of Blacks: Here Is What the Data Say

By SENDHIL MULLAINATHAN
NY Times : October 16, 2015

Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Walter Scott. Michael Brown. Each killing raises a disturbing question: Would any of these people have been killed by police officers if they had been white?

I have no special insight into the psychology of police officers or into the complicated forensics involved in such cases. Answering this question in any single situation can be difficult and divisive. Two outside experts this month concluded, for example, that the shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland who was carrying a toy gun, was a “reasonable” if tragic response. That will hardly be the last word on the subject.As an economist who has studied racial discrimination, I’ve begun to look at these deaths from a different angle. There is ample statistical evidence of large and persistent racial bias in other areas — from labor markets to online retail markets. So I expected that police prejudice would be a major factor in accounting for the killings of African-Americans. But when I looked at the numbers, that’s not exactly what I found.

I’m not saying that the police in these specific cases are free of racial bias. I can’t answer that question. But what the data does suggest is that eliminating the biases of all police officers would do little to materially reduce the total number of African-American killings. Police bias may well be a significant problem, but in accounting for why some of these encounters turn into killings, it is swamped by other, bigger problems that plague our society, our economy and our criminal justice system.

To understand how this can be, let us start with the statistics on police killings. According to the F.B.I.’s Supplementary Homicide Report, 31.8 percent of people shot by the police were African-American, a proportion more than two and a half times the 13.2 percent of African-Americans in the general population. While this data may be imperfect, other sources in individual states or cities, such as in California or New York City, show very similar patterns.

The data is unequivocal. Police killings are a race problem: African-Americans are being killed disproportionately and by a wide margin. And police bias may be responsible. But this data does not prove that biased police officers are more likely to shoot blacks in any given encounter.

Instead, there is another possibility: It is simply that — for reasons that may well include police bias — African-Americans have a very large number of encounters with police officers. Every police encounter contains a risk: The officer might be poorly trained, might act with malice or simply make a mistake, and civilians might do something that is perceived as a threat. The omnipresence of guns exaggerates all these risks.

Such risks exist for people of any race — after all, many people killed by police officers were not black. But having more encounters with police officers, even with officers entirely free of racial bias, can create a greater risk of a fatal shooting.

Arrest data lets us measure this possibility. For the entire country, 28.9 percent of arrestees were African-American. This number is not very different from the 31.8 percent of police-shooting victims who were African-Americans. If police discrimination were a big factor in the actual killings, we would have expected a larger gap between the arrest rate and the police-killing rate.

This in turn suggests that removing police racial bias will have little effect on the killing rate. Suppose each arrest creates an equal risk of shooting for both African-Americans and whites. In that case, with the current arrest rate, 28.9 percent of all those killed by police officers would still be African-American. This is only slightly smaller than the 31.8 percent of killings we actually see, and it is much greater than the 13.2 percent level of African-Americans in the overall population.

If the major problem is then that African-Americans have so many more encounters with police, we must ask why. Of course, with this as well, police prejudice may be playing a role. After all, police officers decide whom to stop or arrest.

But this is too large a problem to pin on individual officers.

First, the police are at least in part guided by suspect descriptions. And the descriptions provided by victims already show a large racial gap: Nearly 30 percent of reported offenders were black. So if the police simply stopped suspects at a rate matching these descriptions, African-Americans would be encountering police at a rate close to both the arrest and the killing rates.

Second, the choice of where to police is mostly not up to individual officers. And police officers tend to be most active in poor neighborhoods, and African-Americans disproportionately live in poverty.

In fact, the deeper you look, the more it appears that the race problem revealed by the statistics reflects a larger problem: the structure of our society, our laws and policies.

The war on drugs illustrates this kind of racial bias. African-Americans are only slightly more likely to use drugs than whites. Yet, they are more than twice as likely to be arrested on drug-related charges. One reason is that drug sellers are being targeted more heavily than users. With fewer job options, low-income African-Americans have been disproportionately represented in the ranks of drug sellers. In addition, the drug laws penalize crack cocaine — a drug more likely to be used by African-Americans — far more harshly than powder cocaine.

Laws and policies need not explicitly discriminate to effectively discriminate. As Anatole France wrote centuries ago, “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”

(read the full article at NY Times)

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Let’s admit that the war on drugs has been a failure

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Rob Breakenridge
Calgary Herald : August 18, 2015

It was a striking contrast last week as Conservative leader Stephen Harper denounced the concept of harm reduction just as Alberta Health Services deployed a version of it.

Harper had a lot to say about drug policy, and it only served to underscore just how irrational and counterproductive our approach is. That didn’t begin with the Tories, obviously, but they have very decidedly and proudly embraced a much harsher brand of prohibitionism.

Harper’s remarks last week didn’t actually touch on the fentanyl crisis — perhaps because it might raise some uncomfortable questions about the unintended consequences of government policy. Fentanyl use has surged following Ottawa’s crackdown on Oxycodone. In 2011, for example, Calgary saw six fatal fentanyl overdoses. We’re at 45 already this year.

[…]

Harper’s target, rather, was Insite, Vancouver’s remarkably successful supervised injection site. Insite’s very existence, though, is at odds with Tory doctrine, and they spent years trying to shut it down.

Now the Conservatives are warning that the Liberals and/or NDP would allow more such facilities to open — maybe even in your neighbourhood. In fact, the warning on the Conservative website was accompanied by an ominous photograph of a playground, as though the next Insite might be plunked down right next to it.

Mind you, if you’re not dodging passed-out junkies or used needles when you leave your home, then your neighbourhood is probably a lousy candidate for such a facility. On the other hand, if your neighbourhood is plagued by the grim spectre of heroin addiction, Insite might be a godsend.

Insite’s successes are very much relevant in the context of our struggle to contain fentanyl-related deaths. Fentanyl-laced heroin has been turning up on Vancouver streets, and despite the several overdoses that have occurred at Insite, no one has died there. When one considers the success Insite has had in reducing deaths, reducing injection drug use, reducing drug-related crime, and reducing HIV rates, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The only surprise has been the government’s strident opposition.

A similar dearth of evidence exists around the government’s approach to marijuana. While one federal leader seems to have come to grips with the failure of prohibition, Harper remains completely oblivious to it. He claimed last week that a majority of Canadians in fact support his position on pot, though several recent surveys on the matter would disagree.

Harper made claims about how legalization would lead to greater availability and reduced health outcomes, claims that were thoroughly debunked in a report that was coincidentally released last week by the Toronto-based International Centre for Science in Drug Policy.

Harper also floated the apparently horrifying prospect of marijuana being sold like alcohol and tobacco. Yet, alcohol and tobacco are sold like alcohol and tobacco and presumably Harper also frowns on young people using either of these drugs.

However, Harper himself inadvertently made the case for regulation over prohibition. He talked about the success Canada has had in reducing rates of teen tobacco use, which are now in fact among the lowest in the developed world. He failed to mention, though, that our rates of teenage marijuana use are among the highest in the world. How curious that we’re able do a better job of keeping the legal drug away from kids than the illegal one.

While many of the claims about the Conservatives’ disdain for evidence have been exaggerated or invented, when it comes to our war on drugs, evidence is one of many casualties. It is on this issue where the worst impulses of this government are on full display. More of the same is clearly not the answer.

(read the full article at Calgary Herald

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US Military Uses IMF and World Bank to Launder 85% of Its Black Budget

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Jake Anderson
The Anti Media: August 13, 2015

[…] The CIA and and NSA alone garnered $52.6 billion in funding in 2013 while the Department of Defense black ops budget for secret military projects exceeds this number. It is estimated to be $58.7 billion for the fiscal year 2015.

What is the black budget? Officially, it is the military’s appropriations for “spy satellites, stealth bombers, next-missile-spotting radars, next-gen drones, and ultra-powerful eavesdropping gear.

However, of greater interest to some may be the clandestine nature and full scope of the black budget, which, according to analyst Catherine Austin Fitts, goes far beyond classified appropriations. Based on her research, some of which can be found in her piece “What’s Up With the Black Budget?,” Fitts concludes that the during the last decade, global financial elites have configured an elaborate system that makes most of the military budget unauditable. This is because the real black budget includes money acquired by intelligence groups via narcotics trafficking, predatory lending, and various kinds of other financial fraud.

The result of this vast, geopolitically-sanctioned money laundering scheme is that Housing and Urban Devopment and other agencies are used for drug trafficking and securities fraud. According to Fitts, the scheme allows for at least 85 percent of the U.S. federal budget to remain unaudited.

Fitts has been researching this issue since 2001, when she began to believe that a financial coup d’etat was underway. Specifically, she suspected that the banks, corporations, and investors acting in each global region were part of a “global heist,” whereby capital was being sucked out of each country. She was right.

As Fitts asserts,

“[She] served as Assistant Secretary of Housing at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the United States where I oversaw billions of government investment in US communities…..I later found out that the government contractor leading the War on Drugs strategy for U.S. aid to Peru, Colombia and Bolivia was the same contractor in charge of knowledge management for HUD enforcement. This Washington-Wall Street game was a global game. The peasant women of Latin America were up against the same financial pirates and business model as the people in South Central Los Angeles, West Philadelphia, Baltimore and the South Bronx.”

This is part of an even larger financial scheme. It is fairly well-established by now that international financial institutions like the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund operate primarily as instruments of corporate power and nation-controlling infrastructure investment mechanisms. For example, the primary purpose of the World Bank is to bully developing countries into borrowing money for infrastructure investments that will fleece trillions of dollars while permanently indebting these “debtor” nations to West. But how exactly does the World Bank go about doing this?

John Perkins wrote about this paradigm in his book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman. During the 1970s, Perkins worked for the international engineering consulting firm, Chas T. Main, as an “economic hitman.” He says the operations of the World Bank are nothing less than “pure economic colonization on behalf of powerful corporations and banks that use the United States government as their tool.”

In his book, Perkins discusses Joseph Stiglitz, the Chief Economist for the World Bank from 1997-2000, at length. Stiglitz described the four-step plan for bamboozling developing countries into becoming debtor nations:

Step One, according to Stiglitz, is to convince a nation to privatize its state industries.

 

Step Two utilizes “capital market liberalization,” which refers to the sudden influx of speculative investment money that depletes national reserves and property values while triggering a large interest bump by the IMF.

 

Step Three, Stiglitz says, is “Market-Based Pricing,” which means raising the prices on food, water and cooking gas. This leads to “Step Three and a Half: The IMF Riot.” Examples of this can be seen in Indonesia, Bolivia, Ecuador and many other countries where the IMF’s actions have caused financial turmoil and social strife.

 

Step Four, of course, is “free trade,” where all barriers to the exploitation of local produce are eliminated.

[…]

(read the full article at The Anti Media)

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Johann Hari: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

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Johann Hari
TED: July 9, 2015

Transcript:

One of my earliest memories is of trying to wake up one of my relatives and not being able to. And I was just a little kid, so I didn’t really understand why, but as I got older, I realized we had drug addiction in my family, including later cocaine addiction.

I’d been thinking about it a lot lately, partly because it’s now exactly 100 years since drugs were first banned in the United States and Britain, and we then imposed that on the rest of the world. It’s a century since we made this really fateful decision to take addicts and punish them and make them suffer, because we believed that would deter them; it would give them an incentive to stop.

And a few years ago, I was looking at some of the addicts in my life who I love, and trying to figure out if there was some way to help them. And I realized there were loads of incredibly basic questions I just didn’t know the answer to, like, what really causes addiction? Why do we carry on with this approach that doesn’t seem to be working, and is there a better way out there that we could try instead?

So I read loads of stuff about it, and I couldn’t really find the answers I was looking for, so I thought, okay, I’ll go and sit with different people around the world who lived this and studied this and talk to them and see if I could learn from them. And I didn’t realize I would end up going over 30,000 miles at the start, but I ended up going and meeting loads of different people, from a transgender crack dealer in Brownsville, Brooklyn, to a scientist who spends a lot of time feeding hallucinogens to mongooses to see if they like them — it turns out they do, but only in very specific circumstances — to the only country that’s ever decriminalized all drugs, from cannabis to crack, Portugal. And the thing I realized that really blew my mind is, almost everything we think we know about addiction is wrong, and if we start to absorb the new evidence about addiction, I think we’re going to have to change a lot more than our drug policies.

But let’s start with what we think we know, what I thought I knew. Let’s think about this middle row here.Imagine all of you, for 20 days now, went off and used heroin three times a day. Some of you look a little more enthusiastic than others at this prospect. (Laughter) Don’t worry, it’s just a thought experiment.Imagine you did that, right? What would happen? Now, we have a story about what would happen that we’ve been told for a century. We think, because there are chemical hooks in heroin, as you took it for a while, your body would become dependent on those hooks, you’d start to physically need them, and at the end of those 20 days, you’d all be heroin addicts. Right? That’s what I thought.

First thing that alerted me to the fact that something’s not right with this story is when it was explained to me. If I step out of this TED Talk today and I get hit by a car and I break my hip, I’ll be taken to hospital and I’ll be given loads of diamorphine. Diamorphine is heroin. It’s actually much better heroin than you’re going to buy on the streets, because the stuff you buy from a drug dealer is contaminated. Actually, very little of it is heroin, whereas the stuff you get from the doctor is medically pure. And you’ll be given it for quite a long period of time. There are loads of people in this room, you may not realize it, you’ve taken quite a lot of heroin. And anyone who is watching this anywhere in the world, this is happening. And if what we believe about addiction is right — those people are exposed to all those chemical hooks — What should happen? They should become addicts. This has been studied really carefully. It doesn’t happen; you will have noticed if your grandmother had a hip replacement, she didn’t come out as a junkie. (Laughter)

And when I learned this, it seemed so weird to me, so contrary to everything I’d been told, everything I thought I knew, I just thought it couldn’t be right, until I met a man called Bruce Alexander. He’s a professor of psychology in Vancouver who carried out an incredible experiment I think really helps us to understand this issue. Professor Alexander explained to me, the idea of addiction we’ve all got in our heads, that story, comes partly from a series of experiments that were done earlier in the 20th century.They’re really simple experiments. You can do them tonight at home if you feel a little bit sadistic. You get a rat and you put it in a cage, and you give it two water bottles: One is just water, and the other is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drug water and almost always kill itself quite quickly. So there you go, right? That’s how we think it works. In the ’70s, Professor Alexander comes along and he looks at this experiment and he noticed something. He said ah, we’re putting the rat in an empty cage. It’s got nothing to do except use these drugs. Let’s try something a bit different. So Professor Alexander built a cage that he called “Rat Park,” which is basically heaven for rats. They’ve got loads of cheese, they’ve got loads of colored balls, they’ve got loads of tunnels.Crucially, they’ve got loads of friends. They can have loads of sex. And they’ve got both the water bottles, the normal water and the drugged water. But here’s the fascinating thing: In Rat Park, they don’t like the drug water. They almost never use it. None of them ever use it compulsively. None of them ever overdose. You go from almost 100 percent overdose when they’re isolated to zero percent overdose when they have happy and connected lives.

Now, when he first saw this, Professor Alexander thought, maybe this is just a thing about rats, they’re quite different to us. Maybe not as different as we’d like, but, you know — But fortunately, there was a human experiment into the exact same principle happening at the exact same time. It was called the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, 20 percent of all American troops were using loads of heroin, and if you look at the news reports from the time, they were really worried, because they thought, my God, we’re going to have hundreds of thousands of junkies on the streets of the United States when the war ends; it made total sense. Now, those soldiers who were using loads of heroin were followed home. The Archives of General Psychiatry did a really detailed study, and what happened to them? It turns out they didn’t go to rehab. They didn’t go into withdrawal. Ninety-five percent of them just stopped. Now, if you believe the story about chemical hooks, that makes absolutely no sense, but Professor Alexander began to thinkthere might be a different story about addiction. He said, what if addiction isn’t about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your cage? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?

Looking at this, there was another professor called Peter Cohen in the Netherlands who said, maybe we shouldn’t even call it addiction. Maybe we should call it bonding. Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when we’re happy and healthy, we’ll bond and connect with each other, but if you can’t do that, because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. Now, that might be gambling, that might be pornography, that might be cocaine, that might be cannabis, but you will bond and connect with something because that’s our nature. That’s what we want as human beings.

And at first, I found this quite a difficult thing to get my head around, but one way that helped me to think about it is, I can see, I’ve got over by my seat a bottle of water, right? I’m looking at lots of you, and lots of you have bottles of water with you. Forget the drugs. Forget the drug war. Totally legally, all of those bottles of water could be bottles of vodka, right? We could all be getting drunk — I am right after this — (Laughter) — but we’re not. Now, because you’ve been able to afford the approximately gazillion poundsthat it costs to get into a TED Talk, I’m guessing you guys could afford to be drinking vodka for the next six months. You wouldn’t end up homeless. You’re not going to do that, and the reason you’re not going to do that is not because anyone’s stopping you. It’s because you’ve got bonds and connections that you want to be present for. You’ve got work you love. You’ve got people you love. You’ve got healthy relationships. And a core part of addiction, I came to think, and I believe the evidence suggests, is about not being able to bear to be present in your life.

Now, this has really significant implications. The most obvious implications are for the War on Drugs. In Arizona, I went out with a group of women who were made to wear t-shirts saying, “I was a drug addict,”and go out on chain gangs and dig graves while members of the public jeer at them, and when those women get out of prison, they’re going to have criminal records that mean they’ll never work in the legal economy again. Now, that’s a very extreme example, obviously, in the case of the chain gang, but actually almost everywhere in the world we treat addicts to some degree like that. We punish them. We shame them. We give them criminal records. We put barriers between them reconnecting. There was a doctor in Canada, Dr. Gabor Maté, an amazing man, who said to me, if you wanted to design a system that would make addiction worse, you would design that system.

Now, there’s a place that decided to do the exact opposite, and I went there to see how it worked. In the year 2000, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe. One percent of the population was addicted to heroin, which is kind of mind-blowing, and every year, they tried the American way more and more. They punished people and stigmatized them and shamed them more, and every year, the problem got worse. And one day, the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition got together, and basically said, look, we can’t go on with a country where we’re having ever more people becoming heroin addicts.Let’s set up a panel of scientists and doctors to figure out what would genuinely solve the problem. And they set up a panel led by an amazing man called Dr. João Goulão, to look at all this new evidence, and they came back and they said, “Decriminalize all drugs from cannabis to crack, but” — and this is the crucial next step — “take all the money we used to spend on cutting addicts off, on disconnecting them,and spend it instead on reconnecting them with society.” And that’s not really what we think of as drug treatment in the United States and Britain. So they do do residential rehab, they do psychological therapy, that does have some value. But the biggest thing they did was the complete opposite of what we do: a massive program of job creation for addicts, and microloans for addicts to set up small businesses. So say you used to be a mechanic. When you’re ready, they’ll go to a garage, and they’ll say,if you employ this guy for a year, we’ll pay half his wages. The goal was to make sure that every addict in Portugal had something to get out of bed for in the morning. And when I went and met the addicts in Portugal, what they said is, as they rediscovered purpose, they rediscovered bonds and relationships with the wider society.

It’ll be 15 years this year since that experiment began, and the results are in: injecting drug use is down in Portugal, according to the British Journal of Criminology, by 50 percent, five-zero percent. Overdose is massively down, HIV is massively down among addicts. Addiction in every study is significantly down.One of the ways you know it’s worked so well is that almost nobody in Portugal wants to go back to the old system.

(read the full transcript at Alternet)

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DEA asset “El Chapo” Guzman escapes from prison

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Alternative Free Press

Yesterday, Sinaloa Cartel drug-lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped from prison in Mexico.

In 2014 it was reported that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other federal agents had forged a secret alliance with top level Sinaloa drug cartel members by permitting the narco gangsters to traffic drugs into the U.S., and in a reverse sting, the DEA is accused of allegedly allowing the dealers to ship U.S. made weapons into Mexico without facing prosecution.

Anabel Hernández has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. Last year she told Nick Alexandrov:

There is no “drug war.” I have been investigating the drug cartels for almost 10 years. I have access to a great deal of information—documents, court files, testimonies of members of the Mexican and US governments—and I can tell you that in Mexico there has never, never been a “war on drugs.” The government, from the mid-1970s until today, has been involved with the drug cartels.

Hernández says she has documents showing that prior to Guzman’s arrest, the authorities always knew where he was, and they consistently protected him. Considering that, it is reasonable to question whether Guzman was allowed to escape.

“I was an informant for U.S. Federal Agents, and the agents cut a deal with (me), and members of the Sinaloa Cartel that allowed us to traffic tons of narcotics into the U.S., and to traffic illegal guns across the Mexico-U.S. Border without fear of prosecution under an immunity agreement,” said Vicente Zambada-Niebla in a bombshell court filing in federal court in Chicago Illinois.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said in 2009 that he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were “the only liquid investment capital” available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

Michael Ruppert exposed government drug-dealing in Los Angeles during the 1990s, he explains that “with 250 billion dollars a year in illegal drug money moved, laundered through the American economy, that money benefits Wall Street. That’s the point of having the prohibitive drug trade, which the CIA effectively manages for the benefit of Wall Street. So the purpose of the Agency being involved in the drug trade has been to generate illegal cash, fluid liquid capital, which gives those who can get their hands on it an unfair advantage in the marketplace…. The drug money is always going through Wall Street. Wall Street smells money and doesn’t care where the money comes from; they’ll go for the drug money.”

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Cigarettes & alcohol each more likely to cause psychosis than marijuana

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Alternative Free Press

Cannabis does not cause schizophrenia, but new research suggests smoking cigarettes can.

The BBC reports:

Published in the Lancet Psychiatry, their analysis of 61 separate studies suggests nicotine in cigarette smoke may be altering the brain.

Experts said it was a “pretty strong case” but needed more research.

Smoking has long been associated with psychosis, but it has often been believed that schizophrenia patients are more likely to smoke because they use cigarettes as a form of self-medication to ease the distress of hearing voices or having hallucinations.

The team at King’s looked at data involving 14,555 smokers and 273,162 non-smokers.

It indicated:

– 57% of people with psychosis were already smokers when they had their first psychotic episode
– Daily smokers were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as non-smokers
– Smokers developed schizophrenia a year earlier on average

The argument is that if there is a higher rate of smoking before schizophrenia is diagnosed, then smoking is not simply a case of self-medication.

In 2014 we wrote about a University of Calgary four-year study entitled “Impact of substance use on conversion to psychosis in youth at clinical high risk of psychosis” which determined that cannabis did not increase the likelihood of psychosis. On the other hand, the study suggests that alcohol use could increase the likelihood of psychosis. The Abstract reads: “Results revealed that low use of alcohol, but neither cannabis use nor tobacco use at baseline, contributed to the prediction of psychosis in the CHR sample.”

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RELATED: Claims of marijuana psychosis in teens are asinine

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Vancouver’s Gangster Government Creates Legal Extortion Racket: Demands $30K From Each Pot Shop

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AlternativeFreePress.com

Today, The City of Vancouver Council voted in favor of new regulations for the growing number of medical Cannabis dispensaries in the city. The new bylaws demand $30,000 from each dispensary. The new rules also restrict the location such businesses may operate within, which means dozens are now already in violation.

Councillor Kerry Jang has threatened that the city and/or their police force will shut down dispensaries which do not pay or violate other rules.

City Council claims it is the asinine position of Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose which is forcing the hand of Vancouver’s Councillors. While her portfolio includes legal responsibility for medical marijuana access in Canada, she ridiculously claims cannabis does not have medical value and has failed to provide Canadians with access to their medicine as dictated by the Supreme Court. Now, this blame of failing to provide access is valid, but it does not justify demanding $30,000 with the threat of a police raid. The city could and should regulate dispensaries similarly to other businesses, but $30,000 is ridiculous. That $30,000 cost will of course be passed on to patients who are already paying too much.

The City of Vancouver charges liquor-serving establishments from $858.00 to a maximum $4,637.00 to process their licenses, while alcohol is more dangerous, more addictive, and significantly more damaging to health than Cannabis. A $5000 licensing fee might be reasonable, but $30,000 to dispense medicine to sick people is essentially extortion.

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SOURCES:
Vancouver.ca
CannabisCulture.com
CBC.ca

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Claims of marijuana psychosis in teens are asinine

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AlternativeFreePress.com

By now you may have seen a headline “Pot can pose psychosis risk for teens with developing brains: researchers” or “Marijuana research says psychosis in teens who smoke pot way up”. Notice that the headlines are careful to include words such as “can”, “researchers”, or “says” because it’s just 2 people giving their opinion, it’s not a proven fact. If these media outlets had published a headline which read “Pot poses psychosis risk for teens with developing brains” or “psychosis in teens who smoke pot way up” they would likely be sued by several medical marijuana corporations and forced to print retractions, because there is a lack of science to prove these claims.

We are told there is “a growing body of research” but are provided ZERO specific examples.

These two researchers just give their opinions and cite examples they claim to have witnessed… but appear to not even be questioning whether this “marijuana” was organic cannabis, or if it was sprayed with something or if it was a synthetic substitute. As long as cannabis is illegal and teens are buying their pot from illegal sources, we can’t know what they are smoking. Especially with the many new research chemicals being sold in response to prohibition, teens are often unknowingly consuming cocktails of dangerous chemicals. Without a legal source of organic cannabis, teens will continue to be at risk of consuming unknown chemicals causing unknown damage to their bodies.

One of these asinine articles cites a discredited study regarding IQ being affected by cannabis. The Washington Post can clear that up for us:

Then, a follow-up study published 6 months later in the same journal found that the Duke paper failed to account for a number of confounding factors: “Although it would be too strong to say that the results have been discredited, the methodology is flawed and the causal inference drawn from the results premature,” it concluded.

Now, a new study out from the University College of London provides even stronger evidence that the Duke findings were flawed. The study draws on a considerably larger sample of adolescents than the Duke research – 2,612 children born in the Bristol area of the U.K. in 1991 and 1992. Researchers examined children’s IQ scores at age 8 and again at age 15, and found “no relationship between cannabis use and lower IQ at age 15,” when confounding factors – alcohol use, cigarette use, maternal education, and others – were taken into account. Even heavy marijuana use wasn’t associated with IQ.

UPDATED June 15, 2015:
(This article was written hastily, and should have originally included a link to our previous related article) :
Study says alcohol can lead to psychosis, but not cannabis

The University of Calgary 4-year study entitled “Impact of substance use on conversion to psychosis in youth at clinical high risk of psychosis” determined that cannabis did not increase the likelihood of psychosis. On the other hand, the study suggests that alcohol use could increase the likelihood of psychosis. The Abstract reads: “Results revealed that low use of alcohol, but neither cannabis use nor tobacco use at baseline, contributed to the prediction of psychosis in the CHR sample.”

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Claims pot causes “psychosis in teens” are asinine by AlternativeFreePress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

RELATED:
Study says alcohol can lead to psychosis, but not cannabis

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