Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic:
I want to state, as forcefully as possible, that the War on Drugs is deeply, irredeemably immoral; that it corrodes the minds and souls of those who prosecute it, and creates incentives for bad behavior that those living under its contours have always and will always find too powerful to resist. Drug warriors may disagree, but they should not pretend that they are the only ones making moral claims, and that their opponents are indifferent to morality. Reformers are often morally outraged by prohibitionist policies and worry that nannying degrades the character of citizens.
Perhaps I should be more specific.
See the man in the photo at the top of this article? It isn’t immoral for him to light a plant on fire, inhale the smoke, and enjoy a mild high for a short time, presuming he doesn’t drive while high. But it would be immoral to react to his plant-smoking by sending men with guns to forcibly arrest him, convict him in a court, and lock him up for months or even years for a victimless crime. That’s the choice, dear reader. So take a look at the guy in the photo and make your choice: Is it more moral to let him smoke, or to forcibly cage him with thieves, rapists, and murderers?
My own moral judgments don’t stop there.
Denying marijuana to sick people whose suffering it would ease is immoral.
When a paramilitary police squad raids a family home, battering down doors without knocking, exploding flash grenades, shooting family pets, and handcuffing children, all to recover a small number of marijuana plants, the officers or the people who ordered them there are acting immorally.
When the United States reacts to the insatiable demand for drugs by American citizens by pursuing prohibitionist policies abroad that destabilize multiple foreign countries, it acts immorally.
When prosecutors coerce nonviolent drug offenders to risk their lives as police informants under threat of draconian prison sentences, they act immorally.
The dearth of empathy for nonviolent drug offenders serving years or even decades in prison is a moral failure.
Because we have shifted the costs of drug abuse away from the Americans who freely chose or would choose to use drugs and toward society as a whole, imposing more costs on people who never chose to use drugs but suffer from many harms of the black market, we have achieved a morally dubious redistribution.
What about character? When leaders like Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama support policies that incarcerate young people for behavior that they themselves engaged in without any apparent harm to themselves, their futures, or anyone else, it is they who exhibit character failures.
Of course, there are drug abusers who exhibit character failures too. And when those failures affect other people, when they steal or behave violently or recklessly, they ought to be punished. Law enforcement could focus on catching them, and society could do far more to rehabilitate addicts, if so much wealth wasn’t squandered on an obviously hopeless War on Drugs. Like a lot of people who favor ending it, I believe a reformed policy would be a lot more moral.
I cannot agree more forcefully. I agree with every word written above. The war on drugs of the United States of America is nothing short of a crime against humanity. Those who continue to support it are inhuman beasts; criminals rather than heroes worthy of respect.
100% tax on all wealth over one billion dollars? I can live with that. Take ten minutes and hear what the man says.
Julian Assange (legal accusations aside) and the team at Wikileaks deserve medals, no, deserve a Nobel Prize for their work shining the disinfectant that is broad daylight on the low-down sleazy manipulations of our government and it’s hired thugs.
(SOURCE) Wikileaks is publishing internal memos of the Stratfor security analysis firm. A few tidbits have emerged in these very early days, to wit:
1. Up to 12 Pakistani active-duty and retired officers from the Inter-Services Intelligence agency knew that Usama Bin Laden was in Abbottabad and were in regular contact with him. The Pakistani chief of staff is denying the report.
2. Dow Chemicals hired Stratfor to spy on activists in Agra who continue to protest over the Bhopal environmental disaster that blinded many workers and destroyed their health. I.e., Stratfor was not just doing analysis but was involved in private intelligence operations against civil society groups that had a right to protest.
3. Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton, a former State Department official involved in counter-terrorism, lamented that in the old days the US would simply have assassinated Venezuelan leftist leader Hugo Chavez and Bolivian leftist leader Evo Morales. The internal emails also suggest that Stratfor had placed a female asset in Venezuela, who was having sex with an officer and pumping him for information. The officer was said also to be “working with Israel.” Chavez is known for his criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.
5. The fifth revelation is that often Stratfor analysts did not know what they were talking about and had an extreme rightwing bias. For instance, this memo on the revolution in Egypt attempts to argue that the officer corps was behind the revolution against Hosni Mubarak and that the masses were insufficiently mobilized to account for it. It is alleged that only 750,000 people came out in Tahrir Square, a small number for a country of 82 million. But in fact that was only in Tahrir. People demonstrated elsewhere in Cairo. And they were in the streets in Alexandria, Suez, Asyut and other cities. Even small towns saw burnings of police stations and HQs of the National Democratic Party. This memo makes a grassroots revolution that shook Egypt from Alexandria to Aswan into an officers’ putsch. While the officers tacked with the wind and did end up siding with the demonstrators against Mubarak, they were clearly playing political catch-up. It was revolutionary groups like April 6 that made the revolution in the cities, and the Muslim Brotherhood in the rural areas. The memo is frankly obtuse and if this is what Booz Allen was paying $20,000 a year for, they should demand their money back.
This fifth point, about the one percent interpreting the world for the one percent as being about the one percent, is a dire problem in our information system, since the one percent has the resources and can try to overwhelm reasoned analysis that recognizes the agency of the people. Ultimately, the political struggle here is an epistemological one (epistemology being the study of how we know what we know).
As I read the following article today, I grew angrier and angrier.
I can just see corporate America finally, after three quarters of a century spent lying and abusing peaceful citizens and sick people, suddenly having an epiphany and seeing the light.
“Cannabis is medicine after all, now that we’ve found a way to capitalize on it and reserve most of the enormous profit potential for ourselves,” proclaim the executives. Yeah, I can just see it now, and it disgusts me. Health care and medicine will always be reserved for those who can pay the exorbitant costs required to keep the few filthy rich, no matter how many have to suffer and die.
I may not believe in “God” in the conventional sense most people understand the term, but I do believe human beings evolved on this planet with every other plant, animal, fungus, and microbe, and we are all – living things – connected and dependent upon each other. Everything we need to survive and thrive exists in the environment we evolved within, and cannabis is part of that environment. Natural organisms cannot be patented and licensed for profit, or they shouldn’t, and that’s why so many companies like Monsanto, Pfizer, and others are determined to replace what nature has provided with poisons and freakish monsters of their own design, no matter what the cost or long term damage.<
Nature exists for all of us, and everyone has the natural right to natural food and medicine. THAT is the American way.
Crushed Beneath the Medicine Wheel, by Kassy Fatooh
(SOURCE: Toke of the Town) In a scheme they think capable of making billions, a US corporation not only plans to market a delivery system for medicinal cannabis, but also hopes to cut out small time farmers and private growers by introducing prohibitive protocols through state health departments.
In the course of following the medical story of myalgic encephalomyelitis, I’ve learned things I wish I didn’t know about the big business of medicine, about government agencies charged with public health, and about Big Pharma’s vendetta against alternative healing practices.
Our pain is their payday. Today’s story is one of cold avarice.
The corporation is called MMDS: Medical Marijuana Delivery Systems LLC, marketing its medical cannabis delivery system through its “Medicine Wheel” subsidiary. They hold this patent for the Tetracan transdermal patch: like Nicoderm, but it delivers cannabinoids instead of nicotine.
They advertise it as providing all the benefits of medical marijuana, without the “health-destroying smoke.”
The principal is Jim Alekson, a multi-firm entrepreneur about whom, more later. So, isn’t that a great thing, this Tetracan patch that is promised to hit the sales counters at dispensaries in the second quarter of this year?
Tetracan publicity ignores the fact that there are many other delivery systems already available, as alternatives to smoking. A patient can consume cannabis in baked goods, dissolve a lozenge under the tongue, take tinctures and other extracts, and get the health benefits without the “risk” of smoking.
Right: I don’t use unmotivated quotation marks, so, “risk?”
Tetracan publicity also ignores this study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Twenty years of research have proven that smoking moderate amounts of marijuana daily over years actually improves pulmonary function in comparison not only with tobacco smokers but with healthy non-smoking controls.
Theories as to why this is, suggest the credit may go to biophysics: the exercise of pulling cannabis smoke into the lungs, holding one’s breath, then exhaling; or biochemistry: the anti-inflammatory action of cannabis.
Though JAMA itself didn’t emphasize the point, other authors picked up on and publicized this fact that marijuana smoking apparently improves lung capacity. In this article, for instance, one of the study’s authors is quoted:
“We don’t know for sure,” he said, “but a very reasonable possibility is that THC may actually interfere with the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
Nevertheless, MMDS is pushing the benefits of their transdermal patch as a healthier alternative to smoking, via its “Medicine Wheel Project.”
Page through it and you’ll see some amazing things, like, yes, here are the billions, on page 12:
TOTAL GROSS REVENUE: $2,843,540,662
Now, to make even more money by paying less than the usual costs of launching a pharmaceutical product, they’re cleverly trying to play both sides of the game with government agencies, avoiding FDA requirements by representing the patch as an alternative therapy…
The TETRACAN™ Patch does not require U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval because it will be marketed as a holistic therapy in the same manner as Medical Marijuana is marketed and sold through Medical Marijuana Dispensaries across the United States. (Plan, page 7)
…while simultaneously acting to keep marijuana’s status different from any herb like basil that anybody could grow in their garden, or even a medicinal herb which patients could be licensed to grow, as it is now in Medical Marijuana states: MMDS plans to manipulate the law to further their monopoly beyond the patented patch and into growing rights. The Plan states, on lucky page 13,
“There are no Rules, Regulations or Protocols governing the manner in which Medical Marijuana is cultivated, harvested or processed in any of the Medical Marijuana States or the District of Columbia.”
The Medicine Wheel Project LLC, an associate company of MMDS, plans to introduce Growing Protocols to State Health Departments as it begins to organize the Medical Marijuana Industry under one umbrella organization.
Emphasis added because I’m aghast at the blatant intent to influence state health departments to serve corporate ends.
So that’s where politics play a role. Remember the name Jim Alekson, from above? He’s the principal in the patch company, and heads up many intriguingly related business ventures.
Here he is playing politics with a friendly article. Touting the jobs to be created by the medical marijuana industry, Medicine Wheel has been blogging up the UK cannabis movement, engaging in friendly chats on a UK forum, and Alekson got his blog reposted on the official website of single-issue, pro-cannabis UK political party CLEAR (formerly Cannabis Law Reform).
CLEAR leader Peter Reynolds appeared on the scene only recently, taking over the party with a massive vote of nearly 40 members, and changing its name and direction, while censoring and even ousting anyone who questioned his policies. More on that story can be read here and here.
Meanwhile, back in the USA, it could prove interesting to delve into the names and natures of politicians and perhaps tribal leaders supporting Alekson’s scheme. Medicine Wheel is an interesting name for the project, with its mellow, First Nations overtones. But this Kimosabe Connection isn’t the only business headed by Alekson. His interest in things tribal appears to extend beyond image, or even medicine. Spinning the wheels to make some deals…
For example, it’s also about real estate develoment of tribal lands …
…within the scope of his broader real estate goals as the Alekson Group …
…plus, a huge contract to provide electricity to tribal lands …
….within the broader scope of Energy Pointe Partners, which is yet another Alekson company…
…and if it’s not enough of a monopoly to own a piece of politics, a patent, growing rights, land and energy, there are also the industrial scale hydroponic greenhouses mentioned on Alekson’s profile at LinkedIn.
A friend suggested that all this might be empty scheming with no money behind it, but it seems from Alekson’s creds on pages 40-49 of his stock offering that he really is accustomed to running with the big boys.
Let me repeat the big numbers quoted for the transdermal patch trade alone:
TOTAL GROSS REVENUE: $2,843,540,662
Add real estate, greenhouse construction, energy supply and a growing monopoly, and potential profits are plenty motivation for all the behind-the-scenes political manipulation implied in corporate documents, and more.
None of this vast corporate empire is in the best interest of patients, of course, who typically suffer from the doings of Big Pharma — not even Big Pharma in Alternative Medicine clothing is actually helpful to medical cannabis patients.
As it currently stands in a Medical Marijuana state like my own, patients can buy, carry and use medicinal cannabis and cultivate it for their own use, and it can also be grown by licensed farmers with an agreement to supply it only to licensed dispensaries. Patients here can obtain high quality, organic cannabis in a variety of strains specifically developed with high levels of the compounds that best address their specific pain, inflammation or other health issues, from a safe, state-licensed dispensary; or simply grow their own.
Everyone from the patients who require those varied strains to the growers who developed the strains, to the general public which is asked to criminalize actions because they run counter to corporate profit, everyone stands to lose, if Medicine Wheel gains its ends. Cannabis helps so many conditions from cancer to MS to Alzheimer’s, plus is enjoyed by recreational users with far less danger than alcohol or cigarettes.
The battle against prohibition doesn’t end with legally-grown medicinal cannabis, and it can only be set back further by interference from a multi-billion dollar patent medicine show. The ultimate objective of cannabis campaigning is to get cannabis beyond the medicine cabinet and into the mainstream as a healthy alternative to dangerous substances used socially and for relaxation, such as alcohol and cigarettes.
This could cost a lot of corporations a lot of money, but think what it would save taxpayers by abolishing the prosecution of all cannabis users. Some 20 million American citizens have been convicted of marijuana offenses since 1937. In 2005, alone, 800,000 Americans were arrested on pot charges, costing taxpayers over a billion dollars.
Now, whose pockets do we want to put a billion dollars into? Jim Alekson’s, or the taxpayers’? And whom do we wish to see benefit from the health-giving properties of cannabis? Patients, or profiteers? We need to be vigilant, lest AgriCannaBusiness squeeze small farmers out of one more market, and lest patients be denied the right to grow our own few plants for personal use.
Note: since I first drafted this blog post, news has come out in Canada that shows the collusion of governments and corporations to keep cannabis profitable, as it’s currently playing out in interpretation and enforcement of Canadian law:
Health Canada is now in the process of consulting with the marijuana community to reorganize the program, and has proposed eliminating personal production licences and setting up a system of large-scale commercial growers. Established medical marijuana dispensaries were not mentioned in the government’s new plans.
These are the multi-billion-dollar shenanigans we have to be on the lookout for, worldwide.
Even if you get compassionate medical cannabis laws passed, the governments and corporations collude to make it impossible to grow your own or operate small growing operations that serve local dispensaries.
The result: cannabis is just more Agribusiness and Big Pharma.
Kassy Fatooh blogs as “Creek” at “It’s only ME, it’s not my mind.“ She is a native of Northern California, a writer, a mama of teens, and a sufferer from ME, which in the United States if often mislabeled “chronic fatigue syndrome.”
I came across the following commentary on one of my favorite Tumblr blogs this afternoon.
First, Drew at Political Freakshow posted the following:
Newt Gingrich has made headlines and raised eyebrows on the campaign trail for proposing to make poor children work as janitors in their school, saying it would help them understand the value of work and money.
But apparently, even on child janitorial work, Gingrich is employing a double standard. As Karen Tumulty notes, in a 1995 Vanity Fair profile, Gingrich seemed to refuse to get a job as a student. From the profile:
Newt, who avoided Vietnam with student and marriage deferments, resisted taking a job. During his college years, Newt called up his father and stepmother to ask for financial help. His stepmother, Marcella McPherson, can still hear his exact words: “I do not want to go to work. I want all my time for my studies…Bob Gingrich told me he will not help me one bit. So I wondered, would you people help me?” Big Newt began sending him monthly checks.
Dolores Adamson, Gingrich’s district administrator from 1978 to 1983, remembers, “Jackie [Gingrich’s first wife] put him all the way through school. All the way through the P.h.D… He didn’t work.” Adds Adamson, “Personal funds have never meant anything to him. He’s worse than a six-year-old trying to keep his bank balance… Jackie did that.”
To which Aaron, proprietor of the blog Activate the Mechanism! responded:
This is where the whole conservative ideology on this falls apart under scrutiny.
They say, get a good education so you can get a good job. Great. Then they say, oh but you have to pay for that good education. You either work your way through college or take out a loan.
Fine, great, but as Newt illustrates here, it may not be so easy as to “work your way through college” as presented. You need to have time for your studies, or you might not be able to afford college on the funds you can make.
So, lets say you take out a loan, but then let’s say that you don’t get a good job, say the chips don’t fall in your favor. Now you’re already in a ton of debt and may not be able to make enough income to pay it back.
Not everyone has the privilege to have been born into a wealthy family who can assist with your schooling expenses.
All I ever hear from conservatives is “well, you should have gone to school – well you should get a job – well you should pay back your debts”
It can’t be all three when going to college is incredibly expensive, you can possibly work though school but I doubt you’re going to have the income to do so without taking out any loans, it’s not like well paying jobs grow on trees.
I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that people who think like this have never been in this situation and have no idea what they are talking about.
I agree, but let’s take this line of reasoning another step further.
Republicans, and many Democrats, elected to offices above the municipal level (in average sized localities), are and have been so well off for so damned long (maybe their entire lives) that they simply have no clue what they’re talking about when it comes to the financial reality of just getting by in this world.
I’m reminded an infographic I saw posted somewhere else today, which puts the wealth Mitt Romeny enjoys into perspective.
If this nation was serious about having a government that truly served the needs of all our people, men and women of modest means would be serving in our Congress as equals among folks like Mitt, Newt, and every rich other well connected asshole on Capitol Hill. As it stands now, you and I don’t have any chance of ever getting elected to much of anything, no matter how good our ideas or noble our intentions might be. The simple truth of our current political reality is no money, no influence. Only the rich can be elected, and the further up the chain one goes, the wealthier one must be to have any chance at all.
The millionaires and billionaires we are allowed to vote for are completely out of touch with reality. How can they possibly understand what it’s like to work for two weeks of the month just to pay your rent? Or what it’s like to have to choose between medicine for your spouse or a warm coat and decent shoes for your kid, not because you wasted your money, but because you simply can’t make enough money no matter how hard you work?
Even those at the bottom of the six figure level have a hard time understanding what it’s like if they’ve never struggled to support a family on $20k or $30k or even $40k per year. They cannot comprehend working at jobs, year after year, that slowly break your body and suck out your soul until you simply can’t deliver the goods anymore.
We come out of those so-called careers into a society run by people who can always manage to fund another war, build another prison, or give tax refunds to the likes of Monsanto, Exxon, and AT&T, but who can’t find the money to pay for adequate healthcare or other social programs to support disabled workers who sacrificed their bodies on the alter of corporate profit.
The last thing we need is another Congress full of Newts, Mitts, and others as far removed from life down here near the bottom as they are; much less one of them in the White House too.
The mutant beast known as Monsanto is at it again. This time it’s trying to corner the market in yet another struggling country of peasant farmers.
If Monsanto (and other corporate behemoths) is not stopped in its tracks soon, there is a better than good chance that within another generation or two, terminator seed varieties and herbicide resistant crops will take over the world and cause the extinction of most open-pollenated fruit and vegetable species on the planet.
Wouldn’t that be a great for profits?
Indeed it would, for the thirty seconds of geological time it would take those short-sighted bastards to starve to death along with the rest of us. The monster must be killed before it swallows the entire planet.
Big agriculture, big oil, big pharma, and all the other “bigs”, despite their loud protestations to the contrary, do not like free markets and fair competition. They know they have an inferior, and increasingly unpopular product to sell.
The sociopathic individuals at the top those pyramid schemes will stop at nothing to eliminate competition and choice from their targeted consumer markets (i.e. the human race). If you don’t believe it, just look at what they did to the oldest and most versatile crop in the world eighty odd years ago.
Before 1930 or so, hemp was used for everything from textiles and industrial finishes to food and medicine, but when the technology to facilitate mass production and harvesting of industrial hemp became available in the years just prior to World War II, men with the financial interests in timber and petrochemicals spent millions (billions or even trillions in today’s money) to eliminate the threat hemp represented to their profits.
The resultant prohibition of cannabis (a.k.a. hemp, marijuana, etc.), based on nothing but lies and disinformation, is still firmly entrenched to this day, ruining the lives of millions while depriving our economy of hundreds of thousands of sustainable jobs and trillions in much needed tax revenues.
Monsanto and its ilk are the beneficiaries of generations of market manipulations and legislative lobbying that prop up their toxic products, and every day these corporations are allowed to exist is another day we all move closer to extinction.
USAID announced last September its intention to set up a pilot training partnership with Monsanto and the Nepali government, which promotes hybrid maize seeds to boost yields in a country where 41 percent of the population is estimated to be undernourished.
Maize is a staple of the local diet, especially in the maize-producing hilly central interior of the country, which suffers from chronic food insecurity.
In addition, Nepal grows only half of the maize demanded by the animal feed industry and imports the shortfall of 135,000 tons annually, according to USAID.
Demand for hybrid maize seeds, used primarily in the animal feed industry, has increased as animal feed has constituted a growing source of income for commercial farmers.
Opponents of the proposed partnership say it would substitute one form of dependence for another – from the currently imported maize to maize seeds from abroad.
According to the government, the country required 22,656 tons of maize seed in 2011* – less than 1 percent of which was supplied by registered imports.
Calling the US-headquartered Monsanto a “biotech Goliath”, local activists have taken to social media to block the company’s expansion in Nepal, citing concerns of loss of local seeds, dependence on seed imports and environmental damage to the land and surrounding communities.
Known for its genetically-engineered products worldwide, Monsanto has been sued - and settled out of court – in the Americas throughout the last decade multiple times for alleged health and environmental damages linked to its practices. It has also sued farmers whom it accused of patent infringement. (SOURCE)