Marijuana Legalization Gains Support, Confounding Policymakers

It took 50 years for American attitudes about marijuana to zigzag from the paranoia of “Reefer Madness” to the excesses of Woodstock back to the hard line of “Just Say No.”

The next 25 years took the nation from Bill Clinton, who famously “didn’t inhale,” to Barack Obama, who most emphatically did.

And now, in just a few short years, public opinion has moved so dramatically toward general acceptance that even those who champion legalization are surprised at how quickly attitudes are changing and states are moving to approve the drug – for medical use and just for fun.

It is a moment in America that is rife with contradictions:

_People are looking more kindly on marijuana even as science reveals more about the drug’s potential dangers, particularly for young people.

_States are giving the green light to the drug in direct defiance of a federal prohibition on its use.

_Exploration of the potential medical benefit is limited by high federal hurdles to research.

Washington policymakers seem reluctant to deal with any of it.

Richard Bonnie, a University of Virginia law professor who worked for a national commission that recommended decriminalizing marijuana in 1972, sees the public taking a big leap from prohibition to a more laissez-faire approach without full deliberation.

“It’s a remarkable story historically,” he says. “But as a matter of public policy, it’s a little worrisome. It’s intriguing, it’s interesting, it’s good that liberalization is occurring, but it is a little worrisome.”

More than a little worrisome to those in the anti-drug movement.

“We’re on this hundred-mile-an-hour freight train to legalizing a third addictive substance,” says Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy adviser in the Obama administration, lumping marijuana with tobacco and alcohol.

Legalization strategist Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, likes the direction the marijuana smoke is wafting. But he knows his side has considerable work yet to do.

“I’m constantly reminding my allies that marijuana is not going to legalize itself,” he says.

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By the numbers:

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes since California voters made the first move in 1996. Voters in Colorado and Washington state took the next step last year and approved pot for recreational use. Alaska is likely to vote on the same question in 2014, and a few other states are expected to put recreational use on the ballot in 2016.

Nearly half of adults have tried marijuana, 12 percent of them in the past year, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. More teenagers now say they smoke marijuana than ordinary cigarettes.

Fifty-two percent of adults favor legalizing marijuana, up 11 percentage points just since 2010, according to Pew. Sixty percent think Washington shouldn’t enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have approved its use. Seventy-two percent think government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they’re worth.

“By Election Day 2016, we expect to see at least seven states where marijuana is legal and being regulated like alcohol,” says Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a national legalization group.

Read the Rest at the Huffington Post Here

Amarillo Invites Northeast Gun Makers to the Panhandle

Amarillo’s economy already relies heavily on weapons manufacturing with Pantex and Bell Helicopter, and now the city is trying to add firearms to the mix.

Right now anti-gun legislation in the Northeast has many gun makers entertaining the idea of moving to a more gun-friendly location, and the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation is trying to convince them that the panhandle is the place to be.

Governor Rick Perry’s mission to lure business to Texas is now targeting those Northeast gun makers, and Amarillo is taking part in the recruitment mission in hopes of persuading those manufacturers to join our already established weapons industry.

“I don’t think we’re too concerned about the political nature of the issue, because look what we already make here,” Amarillo National Bank Vice President, and Amarillo Economic expert William Ware said.

Watch the Video Here

Ware believes the panhandle would welcome gun makers with open arms, and our central location would be appealing to those manufacturers.

AEDC President Buzz David joined Governor Perry in Connecticut and New York last week to meet with those businesses, along with EDC leaders from several other Texas communities.

“Whether they’re making guns or spoons, manufacturing is important for any area,” Ware said. “And regardless of our political climate, we’d welcome any manufacturer here in Amarillo.”

If those manufacturers do move to Texas, it won’t have much of an effect on the price or availability guns in the state. But the effect on the economy could be big.

“Well, it wouldn’t really effect my business at all,” Panhandle Gunslingers Owner Bernie Stokes said. “But I’m all for it because of the jobs and all that it would bring to Amarillo economically.”

The products at Panhandle Gunslingers come from whole salers across the country.

Stokes, says that’s true with most small gun shops. So the proximity of the manufacturers won’t make selling guns easier in Texas.

But employees for gun makers will likely be easier to find here than the Northeast.

“They have a different view of gun dealers and gun sellers and gun manufacturers here than in the Northeast,” Stokes said.

If any large gun maker were to consider Amarillo, the AEDC would likely have to offer a pretty penny as an incentive. But here in the panhandle, that’s not likely to be an issue.

“I don’t see any controversy in it because I’d love to see the business,” Stokes said.

David declined to speak on camera about the recruiting trip to the Northeast saying the AEDC does not speak about ongoing negotiations.

Santa Fe City Council Votes Against Magazine Restriction After Heated, Late Night Debate

According tosantafenewmexican.com, the Santa Fe City Council voted 6-2 against a new local ordinance which would have made illegal gun magazines which could hold more than 10 rounds.

The vote came after several hours of testimony from residents and the police chief. Around 2/3 of the speakers, including the chief, were opposed to the ban as they felt it was a violation of Second Amendment rights and unenforceable.

According to the article, even some backers of the bill had a change of heart after hearing the crowd’s testimony.

The measure began to appear doomed when Trujillo [an original backer of the ordinance] withdrew his support shortly after 10 p.m. He said his change of heart came from listening to police Chief Ray Rael, who said the law would be difficult to enforce, and neighbors who told him they already had bought five or six weapons with large-capacity magazines on the Internet, and if the city measure passed, they would buy more.

“We’ve just created more problems,” he said. “People who are not stable will always find ways to get these clips.”

Although, the entire debate was pointless really, as New Mexico has state preemption on gun laws, which prevents local municipalities from regulated the right to keep and bear arms.

Today in history: June 28

In 1965, President Johnson authorized the first U.S. ground combat forces in Vietnam

Members of an American army combat platoon survey the situation from a watery rice paddy as they prepare to advance on a Viet Cong sniper position.
Members of an American army combat platoon survey the situation from a watery rice paddy as they prepare to advance on a Viet Cong sniper position.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

June 28

On this day. 1836: James Madison died. He was the fourth president, serving between 1809-17. Madison is known as “Father of the Constitution,” because he was its principal author; in 1788, he wrote more than a third of the Federalist Papers, still the most influential commentary on the Constitution itself.

Madison helped bring the capital to what is now Washington, saying it needed to be secure after citizens attacked Congress in Philadelphia in 1783. But Washington wasn’t secure. After vowing to defend “every inch” against the British in the War of 1812, Madison fled; the city was torched.

On this day. 1965: President Lyndon Johnson authorized the first U.S. ground combat forces in Vietnam. Within four years, there would be 538,000.

Quote of the day

“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.” -James Madison

10 Things You Need to Know Today: June 28, 2013

1. IMMIGRATION OVERHAUL PASSES SENATE
The Senate voted Thursday to approve the so-called Gang of Eight’s sweeping immigration reform bill. The centerpiece of the legislation is a provision that would allow the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. to apply for citizenship after meeting benchmarks over 13 years. The proposal now goes to the Republican-dominated House, which plans to consider a narrower version with no path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. [New York Times]
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2. OBAMA HEADS TO SOUTH AFRICA
President Obama heads to South Africa Friday on the second leg of his Africa tour. During his first stop, in Senegal, Obama received a warm welcome, but in South Africa students and unions marked Obama’s arrival with protests against his use of armed drones against suspected Islamist insurgents and other foreign policies. The trip also could be overshadowed by public concern for the health of anti-Apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, 94, who is hospitalized in critical condition. [USA TodayReuters]
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3. TSARNAEV FORMALLY INDICTED FOR BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING
The surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was formally indictedThursday on 30 charges, including using weapons of mass destruction and killing four people. Seventeen of the charges released by a federal grand jury carry the possibility of the death penalty. The indictment says Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police, planned the attack for months after downloading bomb-making instructions from an al Qaeda magazine. [Boston Globe]
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4. SOPRANOS CAST AND OTHER ADMIRERS ATTEND JAMES GANDOLFINI’S FUNERAL
Friends and relatives gathered Thursday for the funeral of Sopranos star James Gandolfini, who died last week of a heart attack in Italy at age 51. The actor’s Sopranos co-stars were among the 1,800 people who attended the service at a New York City cathedral. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was there, too. Colleagues eulogized Gandolfini as a caring man who tapped into his own vulnerability to become a great actor, and create one of the most iconic characters in TV history. [USA Today]
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5. U.S. SUSPENDS BANGLADESH’S TRADE PRIVILEGES OVER SAFETY CONCERNS
Leaders in Bangladesh on Friday angrily criticized a decision by President Obama to suspend trade benefits to their country over concerns for worker safety and labor rights. The move came after a yearlong U.S. review of working conditions in Bangladesh, where 1,127 people died in April when a building housing clothing factories collapsed. The suspension was mostly symbolic, though, as the country’s garment exports were not eligible for U.S. duty cuts in the first place. [BBC News]
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6. QVC DROPS PAULA DEEN
Shopping channel QVC on Thursday became the latest company to break ties with Paula Deen following revelations that she has used racially offensive language in the past. The Food Network, Smithfield hams, Target, Home Depot, and Walmart have also dropped the embattled queen of high-calorie, Southern cooking. QVC said it was open to giving Deen a second chance some day. Fans are rallying behind Deen, and her next cookbook, due in October, shot to No. 1 at Amazon. [ABC News]
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7. ZIMMERMAN LAWYER CHALLENGES TESTIMONY OF TRAYVON MARTIN’S FRIEND
An attorney defending George Zimmerman against murder charges clashed Thursday with the prosecution’s star witness, 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin shortly before Zimmerman shot the unarmed black teen. Jeantel said Martin told her a “creepy-ass cracker” was following him, and maintained that Zimmerman was the one who confronted Martin. Zimmerman says he fired in self-defense after Martin jumped him. [Associated Press]
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8. ECUADOR’S PRESIDENT SLAMS THE U.S. OVER SNOWDEN THREATS
In a fiery speech, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, vowed not to bend to U.S. pressure to reject former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s request for asylum. After a U.S. State Department spokesman warned that the South American nation’s economic ties with the U.S. could be jeopardized if it helps Snowden escape espionage charges for leaking classified information, Correa preemptively renounced preferential tariffs for his country’s exports, calling Washington’s pressure “outrageous.” [CNN]
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9. RETIRED GENERAL BECOMES THE FOCUS OF A LEAK INVESTIGATION
A retired Marine general who was once among President Obama’s favorite military advisers is the target of an investigation into the leak of classified information about U.S. cyberattacks intended to slow Iran’s progress toward building a nuclear bomb. The general, James E. Cartwright, was once the second highest ranking officer in the U.S. military, serving as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011. A lawyer for Cartwright declined to comment. [New York Times]
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10. WESTERN BLACK RHINO IS DECLARED EXTINCT
The world’s largest conservation network has declared Africa’s western black rhino to be officially extinct due to poaching and insufficient conservation efforts. The International Union for Conservation of Nature warned that the subspecies of the black rhino — last seen in western Africa in 2006 — might not be the only one to vanish. The IUCN also warns that Africa’s northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction,” and Asia’s Javan rhino is “making its last stand.” [CNN]

New York Town Sets Up Anonymous Tip Line With $500 Reward for Reporting “Illegal Guns”

The town of Peeskill, NY has instituted a program in which the good folks of that town can snitch on their neighbors and make money in the process.

The town is instituting an anonymous tip line in which callers can tell authorities about suspected illegal guns. If the information from the call results in police confiscating an “illegal firearm” then the caller will be rewarded with $500 of cold hard cash.

According to Lohud.com,

Mayor Mary Foster and Chief Eric Johansen introduced “Operation Safe Streets,” a program in which residents can help get illegal guns off the street by calling an anonymous tip line. If the tip results in police confiscating an illegal gun, the caller will receive a $500 cash reward.

So, I have to wonder, does an anonymous call about an “illegal” gun give police enough to get a search warrant? Or will they simply go to the reported location and do a meet and greet with the owner the of the suspected weapon? Will legal gun owners who are mistakenly reported have to turn in all of their guns to check registration status and make sure they are in compliance with New York’s numerous gun laws? You can see how this would get problematic very quickly.

Also according to Lohud.com,

The program was suggested by Councilman Darren Rigger, who saw it as a way to reduce crime while maintaining the city’s economic growth.

“In this post-Newtown, Conn., world we live in, when communities want to make cities and their streets safer they cannot wait to get that done. They cannot wait for the state to come in and help, they cannot wait for the federal government to come in and help. Every community has to step forward and do it themselves and here in the City of Peekskill, we are ready to lead that fight,” Rigger said.

I’m not sure what a “post-Newtown, Conn., world” is, but it sounds like a town in New York where the Fourth Amendment doesn’t exist in regards to gun ownership.

19 Surveys Which Prove That A Large Chunk Of The Population Is Made Up Of Totally Clueless Sheeple

Are we too stupid to continue as a nation?  That may seem like a harsh question, but I think that it is one that we need to ask.  Even though we have more access to information today than ever before, it seems like the U.S. population just keeps becoming more ignorant.  So at what point does a society become so “dumbed-down” that it can no longer function effectively?  We like to complain about our leaders, but the truth is that we are the ones that elected them.  They are a reflection of who we are as a society.

And when you compare Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner to men like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, they don’t fare too well.  Sadly, the truth is that most of our founding fathers would not have a prayer of being elected today.  Instead, they would be labeled as crazy “extremists” for insisting that we follow the U.S. Constitution.  In our entertainment-addicted society, Lady Gaga would have a much greater chance of being elected president today than George Washington would.  That is how far we have fallen.

Perhaps you think that I am being overly pessimistic.

Perhaps you think that I should have more faith in the American people.

Well, just consider the evidence.  The following are 19 surveys which prove that a large chunk of the population is made up of totally clueless sheeple…

#1 One survey found that 56 percent of Americans believe that it is okay for the government to track “the telephone records of millions of Americans” in order to keep us safe.  Apparently those people have never heard of the Fourth Amendment.

#2 When Bush was president, 61 percent of Democrats considered NSA surveillance to be “unacceptable”, but now that Obama is in the White House, only 34 percent of them consider it to be “unacceptable”.

#3 67 percent of Americans support the use of unmanned drones in “homeland security missions” inside the United States.  What’s next?  Will there be “security robots” that stand in the corner and watch us as we eat dinner with our families?

#4 Close to one-third of all Americans would be willing to submit to a “TSA body cavity search” in order to fly.

#5 20 percent of all government workers and 26 percent of all Obama supporters consider the Tea Party to be “the biggest terror threat” that America is facing.

#6 89.7 percent of Americans believe that they are eating a healthy diet.  Meanwhile, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese.

#7 29 percent of Americans believe that “cloud computing” involves an actual cloud.

#8 One survey found that 42 percent of all Americans are unaware that Obamacare is law.

#9 The average American watches 28 hours of television every week.

#10 According to a survey conducted by the National Geographic Society, only37 percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 can find the nation of Iraq on a map.

#11 Close to 25 percent of all Americans do not know that the United States declared independence from Great Britain.

#12 We are the most doped up nation in the history of the planet.  As I wrote about recently, a survey conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug.  An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.

#13 According to one survey, 24 percent of all U.S. teens that have a sexually-transmitted disease say that they still have unprotected sex.

#14 Approximately one out of every five teenage girls in the United States actually wants to be a teenage mother.

#15 As I noted the other day48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies stored up at all.

#16 One survey found that 51 percent of all Americans agree with this statement: “it is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism.”

#17 According to a Bloomberg survey, only 16 percent of Americans believe that the Federal Reserve should be abolished.

#18 29 percent of all Americans cannot recall the name of the vice-president of the country.

#19 In 2008, the American people voted to send Barack Obama to the White House.  After four years of watching everything that he did during his first term, the American people turned around and gave him another four years.

As a nation, we no longer seem to care much about what the U.S. Constitution actually says.  When our politicians tell us that they want to ignore large sections of the Constitution, we just shrug and go along with it.

And we have completely abandoned the values and the principles that this country was founded on.  Our society bears very little resemblance to 18th century America, and we like it that way.  We like to think that we have “progressed” far beyond where they were at, but the truth is that our country is coming apart at the seams all around us.

In this day and age, it is imperative that Americans learn to think for themselves.  Way too many Americans are just like sheep – they just blindly follow the herd.

Sheeple - Photo by Andrew R Tester