Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “medical marijuana”

Treading on States’ Rights – Roger Ingalls

The election is finally over and all the uber-conservative nut-jobs are freaking out. “We’re going off a financial cliff. Obama is a communist alien from Mars. Henny Penney, the sky is falling.”

Since the election, people in all fifty states have signed petitions to secede their individual states from the Union. Again, most of this is coming from the fanatical right crazy-folk but I do believe there is an important message here. The Federal government is unjustly stepping on States’ rights.

Our system of government was setup to allow people in different regions of the country live by majority beliefs appropriate for their corner of the world as long as it did not conflict with the Constitution. This makes sense. Governance that’s good for Alaska may not be good for Florida. In addition, people who live together start to think alike – generally speaking – so they may have values that differ from others that live thousands of miles away.

Here’s my point. The Federal government has been heavily encroaching on States’ rights for the past 40 years. What we see is a country turning more and more divided because we are being forced to act more uniformly when culturally we are very different from state to state. People in Mississippi should not be forced to live like Californians if the majority of them don’t want to. It’s my belief that there would be less anger, less fanatical polarization if people were allowed to govern in a regionally appropriate way when democratically selected.

The next year will be interesting. I’m a liberal and an Obama fan but his big failing is mouthing the belief in State’s rights but then acting completely and thoroughly opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is good for the Feds to offer nationwide services as a competitive option to oligarchical industries, such as energy, banking and insurance since free market choices no longer exist. But it should be a choice. In this election, the people of Washington and Colorado voted to approve the legalization of recreational cannabis. Since 400 or so congressmen thought it was appropriate, in the 1970s, to broadly force their moral beliefs onto the entire nation and outlaw cannabis, it will be interesting to see how the President responds to the people’s choice in these two states.

If not in conflict with the Constitution, the will of the locals should be honored in a democracy. If not, let the secessions begin.

Should the Cheats Define the Policy? – Tom Rossi

It seems that, for most of my life, I’ve heard a lot of whining about welfare cheats and people who cheat medicare, unemployment, social security, food stamps, and several other programs. Additionally, I now hear all about the people who misuse California’s medical marijuana law so that they can get high and have fun.

There really are people who fit these descriptions. But are these reasons to axe the whole programs? The Department of Labor, for example, estimates that 1.9% of unemployment insurance payments go to cheats. While that does add up to a significant amount of money, it also means that 98.1% go to legitimate, unemployed citizens who are in need of help.

Statistics on cheating in state welfare programs are considerably worse (and difficult to find research results on), but appear to be well below 25% attempts at fraud or at least minor tweaking, most of which are caught and stopped.

There can be no doubt that, even if at a statistically low level, this cheating is a drain on our financial resources that should not be ignored. But this is a problem of enforcement of the rules and regulations of these programs. Fiscal conservatives use these problems as justification to call for these types of programs to be shut down completely, or to cut the benefits as low as possible.

These programs are designed to help people in need. People who have lost their jobs, have had a serious illness in the family, are taking care of a special needs child (or adult), or single or just low-income parents. Can we turn our backs on these people because some people cheat?

There are societal costs – real costs – to ignoring the needs of our so-called less-fortunate citizens. It can mean that we lose whatever contribution a person might make if he or she is helped through a temporary setback. It can mean that people are carrying illnesses while mingling with the “rest of us.” It can mean that some (many) children never reach anything like their true potential and never make the contribution they could to our country. Or it could just mean unnecessary suffering by people suffering from anything from the effects of chemotherapy to chronic insomnia.

These are real costs that justify the costs of assistance programs. But I, for one, believe that the purpose of civilization and certainly of America is to insulate us from the brutality of life, or the “law of the jungle.” Otherwise, we could just fire all the cops and say, “If you can’t protect yourself, too bad.”

I want to live in a civilized country – as far from the law of the jungle as is reasonably possible. We can’t define our policies based on those (relatively few) who abuse them. That’s a separate matter. We must define policy based on benefits to our society and then work to keep the process honest. Would conservatives have us shut down the NFL because teams and players sometimes break the rules? Of course not. Think about this when you’re watching your next football game.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Conniving Rats – Roger Ingalls

*WARNING: ANGRY POST*

To avoid dissension within the ranks; I rarely speak negatively about President Obama. But there comes a time when you just have to say what’s on your mind. Now, is that time.

Whenever the Obama Administration asks Americans for input on policy via social media sponsored by Facebook or through the We the People website, the number one issue proposed by citizens is the legalization of medical cannabis.

During the Facebook interviews, the President never addresses the medical issue but instead condescendingly laughs before moving on. And recently, the administration released a negative response to the peoples’ popular cannabis petition posted on the White House’s We the People site.

The response referenced the usual FDA and Institute of Health naysayers that employ ex-pharma executives and lobbyist. These organizations have more foxes in the hen house than there are hens! Instead of snickering at the peoples’ requests, the President should be laughing at these government groups because they truly are jokes – they’re big business puppets.

Beyond the lies spattered throughout the release, the most troublesome aspect was the carefully worded phase “smoked marijuana” with the word “smoke” in italic.

This cleverly worded phrase is a setup. The release is setting the stage for big pharma to step in and take an organic medicine and turn it into a processed drug that can generate large revenues while making it illegal for small existing businesses to provide a natural low cost product. It will also prevent people from growing their own organic medicine. In this release, the Obama administration is saying that organic cannabis (that is commonly smoked) is bad but marijuana processed by big business is worth investigating.

It’s no accident that the President has taken this position. Big pharma is one of the three biggest contributors to political campaigns.

Just once, I’d like a politician to stand up and speak honestly. Perhaps something like this: “My fellow Americans, I’m sorry. I cannot push for the legalization of medical cannabis. Even though this organic and safe medicine would obsolete 30 to 50% of today’s expensive and dangerous pharmaceuticals, I can not make cannabis legal. I sold my soul to the biggest bidder and you, my deceived friends, are not the highest bidder. My bed belongs to big pharma. Again, I’m sorry but you are irrelevant.”

Come November 2012 I may change my tune but today, President Obama and Big Pharma are conniving rats.

Support your local Occupy Movement; it’s a voice that politicians and big business fear.

Fear Creates Relevance.

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

From Killing Weeds to Killer Weed—A Mighty Brave Step (Roger Ingalls)

Sniff-sniff-sniff, is that the pungent kushie smell of progress? This cannot be true, my eyes and ears must be deceiving me.

afghani-kush cannabis

“I want to target the pot market, there’s no good reason we haven’t.” Do you have any idea who said this? It was Jim Hagedorn, the CEO of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.  He made this statement a few days ago during an interview with The Wall Street Journal. SMG (NYSE) is a $3 Billion publicly traded lawn care company that generates 60 to 70% of its revenue from sales to Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of suburban lawns and the chemicals that are put on them. I believe all lawns — not used for physical activities — should be converted to edible gardens. However, I must applaud Mr. Hagedorn for his boldness in making this statement. Nutrient providers and grow equipment manufacturers do not explicitly say that their products are used for medical cannabis out of fear of drawing attention from the Feds. The federal government regulates interstate commerce, and business activity related to marijuana is federally illegal no matter what an individual state’s laws may be. So, Mr. Hagedorn deserves some kudos for his remarks.

No doubt, it is in SMG’s best financial interest to get into this business. The overall marijuana market is currently two to three times larger than the $8 Billion lawn and garden industry. In addition, the lawn industry will fade in the coming decades due to water shortages and climate concerns related to global warming — lawns are environmentally damaging and expensive. SMG is a smart company and the writing is clearly on the wall.

Could endorsement by a respected public company be the tipping point for widespread acceptance of medical cannabis and perhaps recreational use? If so, think of the benefits to society:

-Ending the 40 year failed War on Drugs would save tax payers $54B a year (Fed and combined States expenses).

-Legalization would eliminate criminal activity associated with prohibition.

-Generate sales tax revenues in the billions of dollars.

-Create thousands of new jobs.

-Reduce non-violent incarcerations by 25% making room for violent criminals.

-Increase availability of affordable medicine with less side-effects.

Mr. Hagedorn didn’t make his remarks about pot because he wants to improve society, his motivations are purely profit driven (based on additional comments). However, it was risky considering the Fed’s current position on cannabis. If SMG does make that first bold move toward supporting the medical marijuana industry and it accelerates federal legalization, it would put them in the drivers seat and create a lot of customer loyalty. It’s a mighty brave step but a prudent business decision.

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

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