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March 19, 2009

Health: Marijuana — Legalize it!

Marijuana is a tricky subject in America.

Based on the way our current federal law is written marijuana seems to be the devil of all plants.  It is demonized and believed to be an immoral and destructive drug that should be censored at all costs and by any means necessary to save our nation from destruction!!!

Some of the methods used to control the use of marijuana are very expensive and quite irrational in my opinion.  We, the tax payers, have to pay for extra police officers and other law enforcement officers to monitor marijuana use.  We have to pay correction officers and maintain prisons to punish offenders who were caught with marijuana. We have the high cost of financially supporting citizens who are healthy and in the prime of their lives and should be working, paying taxes and contributing to their families and communities while they sit around in prisons because they were arrested, tried and committed for possessing a minuscule amount of the plant.

From my understanding, hemp, a natural fiber by product of the cannabis plant (marijuana) could be a very positive, practical and valuable fiber if used for industrial purposes.  The cannabis plant, like bamboo, is a very environmentally friendly plant and grows quickly and abundantly.   Hemp requires little or no pesticides or herbicides, controls erosion of topsoil and produces oxygen.  Hemp can also be used to replace harmful products like tree paper which is processed using chlorine bleach and creates a waste product that is carcinogenic (cancer causing).  The strongest chemical needed to whiten hemp so that it can be used as paper is hydrogen peroxide which is harmless.

Hemp can also be used to produce biodegradable plastics (save our land fills!), clothing textiles, rope, canvas, fuel and health food.

Marijuana can also be used for medicinal purposes. The active ingredient in marijuana (THC) and other compounds found in cannabis are legitimate holistic alternatives.

Marijuana and its by-products are suitable for patients suffering from various types of chronic pain, especially those unresponsive to traditional analgesics (pain killers). In addition, cannabis has less negative side-effects than opioids (synthetic/chemical narcotics used to treat pain) – which can be highly addictive – and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which can induce stomach ulcers, bleeding and kidney failure.

Just this past week, HB 648, a bill allowing severely ill patients to grow and use marijuana for medicinal purposes has won a 13-7 vote in the House Health and Human Services Committee in New Hampshire and heads for a full House vote next week.

The bill requires patients to be certified by a doctor before they can grow or possess up to six plants or two ounces of marijuana. They or a caregiver can grow the plants, and a patient is given the option of obtaining marijuana from another certified patient.

In addition to New Hampshire thirteen states have laws permitting medicinal use of marijuana. California is unique among them for the presence of dispensaries — businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services. These dispensaries are legal under California law even though they are still illegal under federal law.

In the past month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal policy will shift, giving states more leeway to pass and enforce their own medical marijuana laws. The Federal government will no longer focus on raids of marijuana clinics but will target marijuana distributors only when they violate both federal and state laws.

That is a departure from the Bush administration, which targeted medical marijuana dispensaries in California even if they complied with that state’s law. California law permits the sale of marijuana for medical purposes even though it’s still is against federal law.

Medical marijuana advocates in California welcomed the news, but said they still worried about the pending cases of those already in court on drug charges.

“Given the limited resources that we have, our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that’s inconsistent with federal and state law,” Attorney General Holder said.

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for national medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said he welcomed Holder’s perspective and that “It signals a new direction and a more reasonable and sensible direction on medical marijuana policy.”

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard of anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana.  Or anyone getting a disease because of marijuana but I have heard of people who got alcoholic poisoning and died; and people who were DWI and killed other people.  

So why not give marijuana the same laws and restrictions as alcohol?  Americans can legally brew beer and make wine up to a certain quantity for personal consumption. So why shouldn’t we be able to grow and possess marijuana up to a certain quantity for personal consumption?

Take it out of the hands of the dealers and let law enforcement concentrate on dangerous drugs.  In fact, we should legalize cannabis and encourage farmers to plant this very eco-friendly plant industrially as a source for paper and other by-products.  Why not?

Additional reading:

http://legalizepot.wordpress.com/2008/01/23/why-is-marijuana-illegal/

 

 

February 6, 2009

Is California On The Verge Of A Financial Collapse?

California is America’s most populous state and it might be on the verge of a financial collapse.  If this is happening in California, how long will it be before this same type of financial monsoon slams into your state?

More than 200,000 state government employees are expected to stay home without pay today as California began it’s first-ever furlough (involuntary unpaid leave of absence), a move intended to save money during the ongoing fiscal crisis.

State agencies scrambled in the days before the furloughs took effect to avoid confusion for the public, such as people trying to register vehicles, getting drivers license or trying obtain professional licenses or city permits.

Among the offices to be closed Friday are those of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Consumer Affairs. The governor’s Office of Emergency Services also would be dark as part of a cash-saving move ordered by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Critical and revenue-generating agencies were scheduled to remain open, including police precincts, fire stations, parks and employment centers that process unemployment insurance claims. California’s unemployment rate is 9.3 percent — a 15-year high.

Schwarzenegger ordered the two-day-a-month furloughs, reducing the average state worker’s salary by 9.2 percent, as he and lawmakers try to solve the state’s $42 billion budget shortfall.

The governor had hoped his order would apply to some 238,000 state employees, but each of the seven other constitutional officers have said they will not comply. Employees of the Legislature are not under his authority.

Schwarzenegger’s legal affairs secretary, Andrea Hoch, said the administration was prepared to sue the state controller if he did not reduce paychecks for more than 15,000 workers in the other constitutional offices, which include the attorney general, secretary of state and insurance commissioner.

A judge who affirmed Schwarzenegger’s authority to order the furloughs said his ruling did not apply to statewide elected officials because they were not a party to the lawsuit. The administration has maintained that employees of constitutional offices are covered by the furlough order.

Doors to about 180 DMV offices were to be locked Friday. Some people said the state gave little notice to the public about the furloughs, which will continue on the first and third Fridays of each month through June 2010.

“They don’t have any signs telling us about Friday,” said Ingrid Dela Cruz of Sacramento, who was inside a Sacramento DMV office on Thursday.

In fact, there were plenty of signs, but they were posted in locations invisible to most customers because they were hidden behind sliding glass doors.

Schwarzenegger’s administration estimated that cutting worker hours would save the state $1.3 billion over the next year-and-a-half.

The state decided to keep some 250 career centers open after previously announcing they would be closed. The centers are where the unemployed get information about job training and benefits.

Dan Gurule, a police officer at the state mental hospital in Norwalk, said the state would have to pay overtime at 24-hour facilities to those workers who backfill the shifts of people on furlough. Five state mental hospitals and 33 adult prisons are required to provide constant care to patients and inmates.

“Somebody has to fill in my position,” Gurule said. “We still have to have a minimum staffing. That’s going to be someone on overtime, being paid time-and-a-half.”

California is not the only state on the brink of a financial disaster. The state of Florida still has a balanced budget — for the time being — but barely.  Governor Charlie Crist has acknowledged that “this economy is struggling greatly.”  He has co-signed a letter with Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, a Democrat, supporting Obama’s stimulus package and encouraging all governors to do the same. “If President Obama sees a need for Republican assistance with his stimulus plan, I’m happy to do that,” said Crist.

He sees in Obama and his recovery plan “lifelines of hope to persevere.”  “There is a level of optimism that is not detached from reality. … I see the glass as half-full —and not without reason. … My optimism does relate to the stimulus plan.”

Many Governors and Mayors support President Obama’s Stimulus Plan since they are on the front lines and see the crises up close and personal on a daily basis. 

Governors and Mayors do not want to see police precincts and fire stations closed.  Nor do they want to see thousands upon thousands of teachers losing their jobs which will cause classroom sizes to increase or schools to close. 

Governors and Mayors do not want to see the millions of unemployed Americans lose their unemployment insurance and lose the ability to pay for food, utilities, rent/mortgage, taxes, car loans and the necessities of life.

I urge you to contact your Senators and Congresspersons from both Houses and encourage them to get together, make the necessary revisions and get this stimulus plan passed for the greater good of all Americans!

Contact Congress:      

http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

Contact Senate:          

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

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