Supreme Court strikes down section of Voting Rights Act

 

 

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET

The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act, weakening a tool the federal government has used for nearly five decades to block discriminatory voting laws.

In a five-to-four ruling, the court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. That section of the landmark 1965 law provides the formula for determining which states must have any changes to their voting laws pre-approved by the Justice Department’s civil rights division or the D.C. federal court. Nine states are required to get pre-clearance, as are certain jurisdictions in seven other states.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority that Section 4 is unconstitutional because the standards by which states are judged are "based on decades-old data and eradicated practices."

"Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically," Roberts wrote. "The tests and devices that blocked ballot access have been forbidden nationwide for over 40 years. Yet the Act has not eased [Section 5’s] restrictions or narrowed the scope of [Section 4’s] coverage formula along the way. Instead those extraordinary and unprecedented features have been reauthorized as if nothing has changed, and they have grown even stronger."

The court could have made a much broader ruling by striking down Section 5, which dictates that those states must get pre-clearance. However, the court decided that the Justice Department still has a role in overseeing voting laws — if Congress is willing to rewrite Section 4.

Nevertheless, civil rights advocates called the ruling a huge blow to democracy.

"The Supreme Court has failed minority voters today," Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund said Tuesday outside of the court.

The ruling underscores the Supreme Court’s lawmaking powers, challenging Congress’ overwhelmingly bipartisan decision in 2006 to renew the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years. Ifill pointed out that the court renewed the law after holding 52 hearings over nine months and amassing 15,000 pages of evidence of the state of civil rights across the nation.

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It’s now up to Congress to change the coverage rules so that Section 5 — the section requiring pre-clearance of voting laws in certain states — can continue to be enforced.

"The ball has been thrown not only in Congress’ court, but in our court," Ifill said, calling on the public to mobilize behind an update to the law.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, he expressed optimism the Voting Rights Act could be fully restored with adjustments in the legislative branch.

"We are very confident that members of both houses of Congress who helped lead the effort in 2006, many of whom are still there, will respond to those challenges," he said on the steps of the court.

While Section 5 may be effectively nullified, now that Section 4 has been struck down, the court’s ruling will certainly renew discussion of what tools the federal government should have at its disposal to ensure voting rights. President Obama noted earlier this year that Section 5 is "not the only tool" available to fight discriminatory voting laws, and he has attempted to start a new dialogue on the issue by forming a bipartisan commission to draft a plan for reforming national voting laws.

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The Nullification Door can Swing Both Ways

By Bruce Johnson  June 24, 2013

Patrick Henry, John Calhoun, and George Mason would be delighted that States are showing some backbone after 220 years of Federal power encroachment. States are again beginning to question Federal authority by, in effect, nullifying some Federal mandates. But the "nullification door" is swinging both ways. Is it not nullification of law by the Federal Government itself when they who hold the federal reins refuse to enforce the laws currently on the books? And when no enforcement of the law is at the whim of an administration, what recourse exists for the citizenry? For the States?

Both ends of the political spectrum have engaged in nullification, the rejection of Federal law. As noted in this piece by David Leib, the current focal points of dissonance between State and Federal revolve around a strange mix of topics; healthcare, guns, illegal immigration, citizen identification, and marijuana. We can clearly identify both ends of the sociopolitical spectrum and note they have become strange bedfellows in disobeying the federal government. Coloradans thumb their nose at federal marijuana laws while Montanans do the same with federal gun laws.

Mr. Leib in his article " Federal Nullification Efforts Mounting in States", lists a few of today’ de facto nullifications:

"About 20 states now have medical marijuana laws allowing people to use pot to treat chronic pain and other ailments — despite a federal law that still criminalizes marijuana distribution and possession. Ceding ground to the states, President Barack Obama’s administration has made it known to federal prosecutors that it wasn’t worth their time to target those people…

Federal authorities have repeatedly delayed implementation of the 2005 Real ID Act… about half the state legislatures have opposed its implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

About 20 states have enacted measures challenging Obama’s 2010 health care laws…

After Montana passed a 2009 law declaring that federal firearms regulations don’t apply to guns made and kept in that state, eight other states have enacted similar laws…"

But the nullification door swings both ways. As States issue an affront to select federal law, the federal authorities elected and appointed seem also to have some issues themselves with federal law. Even though they have pledged via their oaths of office to enforce these laws, when it serves their political purposes we often get nonenforcement. Despite vowing diligence there is a steady record that is in effect "legislation via non action" by federal agencies and apparently done so at the direction of the Executive and Judicial branches.

In some instances the federal authorities reject any local, police, or State assistance in enforcing federal law as in the Arizona illegal immigration situation. In many marijuana cases, the federal government seems uninterested that State law conflicts with the law on the federal books. Illinois and Chicago in particular drag out a federal mandate to comply with the Second Amendment. Yet most assuredly those same federal authorities will expect local enforcement of new gun laws in Montana.

When polling place violations go unprosecuted, when sanctuary cities invite illegal immigrants and guarantee no pursuit, when immigration agents are told to ease up, and when the War Powers Act that requires the president to consult with Congress but the president only delivers mere notification… are these not de facto nullifications of law?

When States detect that they are being harmed by new federal law, it is more justifiable for them to act than those oath obligated federal office holders channeling their political wishes by choosing which laws to enforce and which to ignore.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"

As Madison noted in his Federalist Paper #45,

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.".

Article I, sect 8 of the Constitution clearly delineates that which the Federal Government "can" do, and section 10 of the same Article clearly states what the States "can’t" do. State governments preceded the "federal experiment" and it was from these 13 States the powers so delegated to the "federal experiment" originated. But now add in the Supremacy Clause noting State law can not be in conflict with Federal Law, and if such occurrence arise, Federal law will be "supreme’. More complications arise when the powers of Article I, sect 8 are deemed unbound by how activists interpret the "necessary and proper" clause. All of this sets before us a cauldron of countervailing double- entendre laden documents that often seem internal contradictory. Is it a ‘mish mash’ or a brilliant work of governance?

The Federal Papers lend guidance to the Constitution. These papers fill in the gaps and clarify instances in which the English language within the Constitution sometimes falls short. In Federalist #32 and #33, Hamilton, a devout federalist, points to a certain sovereignty status retained by the States.

32nd:

As the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States.

Today’s resurgence of nullification of federal law by the States is perhaps the greatest since 1861. John C. Calhoun led a nullification movement in South Carolina in 1832 regarding the collection of federal tariffs on imports. Prior to that, there were the instances of opposition to a National Bank, New England’s opposition to the War of 1812 voiced in the Hartford Convention and also New England’s opposition to the Mexican War and their sending of troops to that effort. Thomas Jefferson himself led nullification efforts in 1798 with the Kentucky Resolution in which "the states had the right and the duty to declare unconstitutional any acts of Congress that were not authorized by the Constitution". Madison followed with the Virginia Resolution in the same spirit.

"If prudently limited and wisely directed, almost any government can be a blessing; yet unless firmly constrained, any government of whatever form will tend to augment its powers in excess, going beyond even the plainest legal limits on its just authority, and will sooner or later become dangerous." Thomas Jefferson (A Constitutional History of Secession, Graham)

Nullification has three stages. (as noted by Graham pp. 108, 109)

Interposition: This involves the identification of the grievances by the offended party (State), adopted by the legislator of that State, and noting the unconstitutional nature of the proposed act by the Federal Government or by other States as being injurious to the offended State. A demand for "appropriate redress" is included.

State Declaration of Nullification: The State will call for assemblies and authorities within the State to then empower such bodies to then craft an ordinance of nullification.

Ordinance of Secession: If the ordinance of nullification should fail to restore proper balance between the Federal Government and the State, by act of sovereign power and ordinance of secession will be adopted.

Secession is unlikely today, but the concept was unresolved in 1861. State sovereignty was a more justifiable position. Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York all ratified the Constitution with the proviso that if they became harmed by the "federal experiment", they retained the powers to withdraw. To extrapolate, and because these ratifications were unconditionally accepted at the convention in which all States were equal partners, these rights to ‘withdraw’ radiated to all the States ratifying at that time.

State resistance to harmful federal legislation is an important component to our federal system. Nullification must be promoted cautiously but once committed, States must hold firm even if it draws an extortion such as the withholding of Federal highway funds. Turnabout is fair play, and as an administration selectively ignores passed law, States gain traction in challenging new Federal law. Principle must trump financial consideration and the promise that is our form of government must not be whittled away.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/06/the_nullification_door_can_swing_both_ways.html#ixzz2XB1xZEFz

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Evil Monsanto Aggressively Sues Farmers for Saving Seeds

Farmers have always saved seeds from their harvest to sow the following year. But Monsanto and other big seed companies have changed the rules of the game.

June 20, 2013 |  

The following content originally appeared on TruthOut.

There has been mixed news for the agrochemical giant Monsanto recently. On the one hand, there was the  surprise announcement on June 1 by company spokesman Brandon Mitchener: "We are no longer working on lobbying for more cultivation in Europe…  Currently we do not plan to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops."

The embattled corporation has decided to stop tilting against the windmill of European resistance to its controversial biotech seeds. Eight EU nations have already prohibited GM (genetically modified) cultivation on their territory and banned the import of genetically modified foods from abroad.

But Monsanto’s prospects in the United States took a very different turn last month when the US Supreme Court ordered Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman to pay Monsanto over $80,000 for planting its GM soybean seeds. Bowman had purchased the seeds from a grain elevator rather than from Monsanto itself, as their corporate contract requires. The seeds had been saved from an earlier crop. 

For as long as humans have been growing food, farmers have saved seeds from their harvest to sow the following year. But Monsanto and other big seed companies have changed the rules of the game. They have successfully argued that they spend millions of dollars developing new crop varieties and that these products should be treated as proprietary inventions with full patent protection.  Just as one can’t legally reproduce a CD or DVD, farmers are now prohibited from copying the GM seeds that they purchase from companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta. 

In one sense, these corporations no longer sell seeds – they lease them, requiring farmers to renew their lease with every subsequent growing season. Monsanto itself compares its GM seeds to rental cars. When you are finished using them, rights revert to the owner of the "intellectual property" contained within the seed.

Some farmers have saved their seeds anyway (called "brown bagging"), in some cases to save money, in others because they don’t like the big companies telling them how to farm. Monsanto has responded with an all-out effort to track down the brown baggers and prosecute them as an example to others who might be tempted to violate its patent. By aggressively enforcing its "no replant policy," Monsanto has initiated a permanent low-grade war against farmers. At the time of this writing, the company had not responded to emailed questions about its seed saving policies.

"I don’t know of [another] company that chooses to sue its own customer base," Joseph Mendelson of the Center for Food Safety told Vanity Fair Magazine. " It’s a very bizarre business strategy."

Yet the strategy appears to be working. Over 90 percent of the soybeans, corn, canola and cotton grown in the United States are patented genetically modified organisms (commonly known as GMOs). The soybean variety that Bowman planted has proved popular with farmers because it has been modified to survive multiple sprayings by Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, whose active agent is glyphosate. While Monsanto claims that GMOs increase crop yields, there is little evidence that this is the case. The chemical giant turned seed company also claims that the new technology decreases the need for agrochemicals. Yet 85 percent of all GM crops are bred to be herbicide resistant, which has meant that pesticide use is increasing as a result of the spread of GM crops. What GMOs were designed to do – and indeed accomplish – is create plants that can be grown efficiently in the chemical-intensive large scale monocultures that dominate American agriculture.

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Three men sentenced to death by hanging for selling weed in Malaysia

By Jack Daniel in Culture, Global, News

Thursday, June 20, 2013

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Deep in the conservative heartland of the upper Malaysian peninsula, the state of Kelantan was once known for its secluded location and coastal piracy, but today is known more for the strict Islamic order that has been put in place by the long standing hardline government. It is that draconian set of laws that has three friends facing death by hanging after being found guilty of selling weed in a hospital parking lot.

The isolated region has been ruled by the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) since 1990. With a Muslim population of over 95%, the PAS has managed to pass local laws in Kelantan that segregate supermarket lines, as well as public seating, by gender. They have restricted public performances by women if any men are present, and have placed outright bans on many traditional Malaysian forms of theater.

These laws, they say, are in place to squash immorality in the name of Islam. Following their interpretation of Islamic doctrine, the PAS attempted to institute punishments like chopping off fingers or hands of thieves, and execution for something as simple as blasphemy. Fortunately, cooler heads at the national level intervened, blocking the most extreme local legislation on constitutional grounds.

But even national laws in Malaysia leave little room for sympathy when it comes to drug-related offenses. Getting busted with any controlled substance can earn you a heavy fine and instant deportation, at best. Anyone caught with a mere 7 grams of marijuana can be labeled and tried as a drug trafficker, an offense punishable nationwide by the death penalty. They don’t mess around.

The three men convicted today were accused of selling 4.8kg, or over ten and a half pounds, of herb in the parking lot of the Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital in August of 2007. Ultimately found guilty of all charges, the three men will be put to death by hanging.
They had previously avoided the death penalty when the same High Court ruled on the case in 2010, acquitting two of the men altogether, and reducing the third man’s charges to drug possession, earning him 12 years in prison.

The prosecution wasn’t satisfied though. They appealed the case and were granted a re-trial, through which they somehow cast a newfound doubt in the mind of the Judge. With the facts of the case unchanged since the Court’s first decision back in 2010, today Judge Datuk Azman Abdullah announced his decision, stating that the defense put forth was not enough to re-convince him.

Their story is almost identical to a similar case from March of this year, where three men were convicted of pushing over 14 pounds of illegal pot on the west coast of the peninsula, also in 2007. Seriously, if you like your neck at its current length, don’t sell weed in Malaysia.

The friends in this latest case – ages 42, 48, and 52 – all appear to be Malaysian nationals. Charged and convicted under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1952, which carries a mandatory death sentence, their only hope now is for some sort of reprieve from the notoriously dispassionate Malaysian national government.

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I Went From Selling Drugs to Studying Them — And Found That Most of What We Assume About Drugs Is Wrong

A scientist with a rough past explains how he used his life experiences to blow the lid off modern drug research.

June 19, 2013 |  

This is the prologue to Columbia University researcher Dr. Carl Hart’s explosive new book, " High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journal of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Psychology."  Read a Q&A with the author here.

The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.

—James Baldwin

The straight glass pipe filled with ethereal white smoke. It was thick enough to see that it could be a good hit, but it still had the wispy quality that distinguishes crack cocaine smoke from cigarette or marijuana smoke. The smoker was thirty-nine, a black man, who worked as a street bookseller. He closed his eyes and lay back in the battered leather office chair, holding his breath to keep the drug in his lungs as long as possible. Eventually, he exhaled, a serene smile on his face, his eyes closed to savor the bliss.

About fifteen minutes later, the computer signaled that another hit was available.

“No, thanks, doc,” he said, raising his left hand slightly. He hit the space bar on the Mac in the way that he’d been trained to press to signal his choice.

Although I couldn’t know for sure whether he was getting cocaine or placebo, I knew the experiment was going well. Here was a middle-aged brother, someone most people would label a “crackhead,” a guy who smoked rock at least four to five times a week, just saying no to a legal hit of what had a good chance of being 100 percent pure pharmaceutical-grade cocaine. In the movie version, he would have been demanding more within seconds of his first hit, bug-eyed and threatening—or pleading and desperate.

Nonetheless, he’d just calmly turned it down because he preferred to receive five dollars in cash instead. He’d sampled the dose of cocaine earlier in the session: he knew what he would get for his money. At five dollars for what I later learned was a low dose of real crack cocaine, he preferred the cash.

Meanwhile, there I was, another black man, raised in one of the roughest neighborhoods of Miami, who might just as easily have wound up selling cocaine on the street. Instead, I was wearing a white lab coat and being funded by grants from the federal government to provide cocaine as part of my research into understanding the real effects of drugs on behavior and physiology. The year was 1999.

In this particular experiment, I was trying to understand how crack cocaine users would respond when presented with a choice between the drug and an “alternative reinforcer”—or another type of reward, in this case, cash money. Would anything else seem valuable to them? In a calm, laboratory setting, where the participants lived in a locked ward and had a chance to earn more than they usually could on the street, would they take every dose of crack, even small ones, or would they be selective about getting high? Would merchandise vouchers be as effective as cash in altering their behavior? What would affect their choices?

Before I’d become a researcher, these weren’t even questions that I would think to ask. These were drug addicts, I would have said. No matter what, they’d do anything to get to take as much drugs as often as possible. I thought of them in the disparaging ways I’d seen them depicted in films like New Jack City and Jungle Fever and in songs like Public Enemy’s “Night of the Living Baseheads.” I’d seen some of my cousins become shells of their former selves and had blamed crack cocaine. Back then I believed that drug users could never make rational choices, especially about their drug use, because their brains had been altered or damaged by drugs.

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Federal nullification efforts mounting in states

By DAVID A. LIEB — Associated Press

 

 

ohhhh-so-beautiful

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Imagine the scenario: A federal agent attempts to arrest someone for illegally selling a machine gun. Instead, the federal agent is arrested – charged in a state court with the crime of enforcing federal gun laws.

Farfetched? Not as much as you might think.

The scenario would become conceivable if legislation passed by Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature is signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

The Missouri legislation is perhaps the most extreme example of a states’ rights movement that has been spreading across the nation. States are increasingly adopting laws that purport to nullify federal laws – setting up intentional legal conflicts, directing local police not to enforce federal laws and, in rare cases, even threatening criminal charges for federal agents who dare to do their jobs.

An Associated Press analysis found that about four-fifths of the states now have enacted local laws that directly reject or ignore federal laws on marijuana use, gun control, health insurance requirements and identification standards for driver’s licenses. The recent trend began in Democratic leaning California with a 1996 medical marijuana law and has proliferated lately in Republican strongholds like Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback this spring became the first to sign a measure threatening felony charges against federal agents who enforce certain firearms laws in his state.

Some states, such as Montana and Arizona, have said "no" to the feds again and again – passing states’ rights measures on all four subjects examined by the AP – despite questions about whether their "no" carries any legal significance.

"It seems that there has been an uptick in nullification efforts from both the left and the right," said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles who specializes in constitutional law.

Yet "the law is clear – the supremacy clause (of the U.S. Constitution) says specifically that the federal laws are supreme over contrary state laws, even if the state doesn’t like those laws," Winkler added.

The fact that U.S. courts have repeatedly upheld federal laws over conflicting state ones hasn’t stopped some states from flouting those federal laws – sometimes successfully.

About 20 states now have medical marijuana laws allowing people to use pot to treat chronic pain and other ailments – despite a federal law that still criminalizes marijuana distribution and possession. Ceding ground to the states, President Barack Obama’s administration has made it known to federal prosecutors that it wasn’t worth their time to target those people.

Federal authorities have repeatedly delayed implementation of the 2005 Real ID Act, an anti-terrorism law that set stringent requirements for photo identification cards to be used to board commercial flights or enter federal buildings. The law has been stymied, in part, because about half the state legislatures have opposed its implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

About 20 states have enacted measures challenging Obama’s 2010 health care laws, many of which specifically reject the provision mandating that most people have health insurance or face tax penalties beginning in 2014.

After Montana passed a 2009 law declaring that federal firearms regulations don’t apply to guns made and kept in that state, eight other states have enacted similar laws. Gun activist Gary Marbut said he crafted the Montana measure as a foundation for a legal challenge to the federal power to regulate interstate commerce under the U.S. Constitution. His lawsuit was dismissed by a trial judge but is now pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"The states created this federal monster, and so it’s time for the states to get their monster on a leash," said Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that local police could not be compelled to carry out provisions of a federal gun control law. But some states are now attempting to take that a step further by asserting that certain federal laws can’t even be enforced by federal authorities.

A new Kansas law makes it a felony for a federal agent to attempt to enforce laws on guns made and owned in Kansas. A similar Wyoming law, passed in 2010, made it a misdemeanor. The Missouri bill also would declare it a misdemeanor crime but would apply more broadly to all federal gun laws and regulations – past, present, or future – that "infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter in late April to the Kansas governor warning that the federal government is willing to go to court over the new law.

"Kansas may not prevent federal employees and officials from carrying out their official responsibilities," Holder wrote.

Federal authorities in the western district of Missouri led the nation in prosecutions for federal weapons offenses through the first seven months of the 2013 fiscal year, with Kansas close behind, according to a data clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Felons illegally possessing firearms is the most common charge nationally. But the Missouri measure sets it sights on nullifying federal firearms registrations and, among other things, a 1934 law that imposes a tax on transferring machine guns or silencers. Last year, the federal government prosecuted 83 people nationally for unlawful possession of machine guns.

So what would happen if a local prosecutor actually charges a federal agent for doing his or her job?

"They’re going to have problems if they do it – there’s no doubt about it," said Michael Boldin, executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, a Los Angeles-based entity that promotes states’ rights. "There’s no federal court in the country that’s going to say that a state can pull this off."

Yet states may never need to prosecute federal agents in order to make their point.

If enough states resist, "it’s going to be very difficult for the federal government to force their laws down our throats," Boldin said.

Missouri’s governor has not said whether he will sign or veto the bill nullifying federal gun laws. Meanwhile, thousands of people have sent online messages to the governor’s office about the legislation.

Signing the measure "will show other states how to resist the tyranny of federal bureaucrats who want to rob you of your right to self-defense," said one message, signed by Jim and Arlena Sowash, who own a gun shop in rural Stover, Mo.

Others urged a veto.

"Outlandish bills like this – completely flouting our federal system – make Missouri the laughingstock of the nation," said a message written by Ann Havelka, of the Kansas City suburb of Gladstone.

Follow David A. Lieb at: http://www.twitter.com/DavidALieb

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/06/21/2686935/federal-nullification-efforts.html#storylink=cpy

U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Legalize Industrial Hemp

 

 

WhiteHouse

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-200 on June 20 to legalize the industrial farming of hemp fiber. Hemp is the same species as the marijuana plant, and its fiber has been used to create clothing, paper, and other industrial products for thousands of years; however, it has been listed as a “controlled substance” since the beginning of the drug war in the United States. Unlike marijuana varieties of the plant, hemp is not bred to create high quantities of the drug THC.

The amendment’s sponsor, Jared Polis (D-Colo.), noted in congressional debate that “George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. The first American flag was made of hemp. And today, U.S. retailers sell over $300 million worth of goods containing hemp — but all of that hemp is imported, since farmers can’t grow it here. The federal government should clarify that states should have the ability to regulate academic and agriculture research of industrial hemp without fear of federal interference. Hemp is not marijuana, and at the very least, we should allow our universities — the greatest in the world — to research the potential benefits and downsides of this important agricultural commodity.”

The 225-200 vote included 62 Republican votes for the Polis amendment, many of whom were members of Justin Amash’s Republican Liberty Caucus or representatives from farm states. But most Republicans opposed the amendment, claiming it would make the drug war more difficult. “When you plant hemp alongside marijuana, you can’t tell the difference,” Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) said in congressional debate on the amendment to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.

“This is not about a drugs bill. This is about jobs,” Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) countered King in House floor debate June 20. Massie, a key House Republican ally of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, opposes marijuana legalization but had signed on as a cosponsor of the Polis amendment.

The amendment would take industrial hemp off the controlled substances list if it meets the following classification: “The term ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” The amendment would allow industrial farming of hemp “if a person grows or processes Cannabis sativa L. for purposes of making industrial hemp in accordance with State law.” Most states have passed laws legalizing industrial hemp, in whole or in part, but federal prohibitions have kept the plant from legal cultivation.

However, the annual agricultural authorization bill subsequently went down to defeat in the House by a vote of 195 to 234. Sponsors of the amendment hope that it will be revised in conference committee, where it has strong support from both Kentucky senators, Rand Paul and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The legislation, originally offered as the bill H.R. 525, was sponsored by Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who represent states where voters recently considered ballot measures that legalized marijuana within their states, a fact King pointed out in House floor debate. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved the ballot measures in 2012, but voters in Oregon rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized cultivation of marijuana.

Recent polls have indicated that most Americans want legalization of marijuana, as well as hemp. Though support for marijuana legalization is by only a slim majority of the public, there’s a larger divide among age groups, with younger voters more heavily favoring legalization.

None of the debate on the amendment related to the constitutional authority of Congress to ban substances. Nor did any congressman reference the first time Congress banned a drug — alcohol. At that time, Congress followed proper constitutional protocol to amend the U.S. Constitution first, giving it the legitimate power to ban alcohol (i.e., the 18th Amendment). No comparable constitutional amendment has been passed for hemp, marijuana, raw milk, or any other substance prohibited by the federal government.

Marijuana fed pork becoming highly sucessful

 

 

SEATTLE, Washington (KING) – It’s a different kind of head shop found just down the stairs from the Pike Place market.

It’s the BB Ranch selling something that’s even better than bacon. It’s marijuana fed pork.

“The pig farmer has been feeding them marijuana for the last two and a half months of their life and they’ve been happy as hell,” said William Von Schneidau, owner of the butcher shop.

This is all thanks the voters of Washington who legalized marijuana in the last election. That’s when Von Schneidau saw the opportunity wasn’t just blowing smoke.

“And then all of a sudden marijuana, you know, became legal a few months ago and somehow, I don’t know how, I met the commercial growers and they needed to get rid of some of their stuff. So rather than going into the compost pile we said, ‘Lets try it out.’ So here we go,” said he said.

The pigs are raised in a farm about an hour outside of Seattle. In fact, these pigs are on the rock star diet. The mix contains drugs and alcohol, the booze coming by way of the spent grains from Woodinville’s Project V Vodka.

The pot pigs grow to be extra fat and really happy according to the farmer who wants to be anonymous.

Here’s the tough part of the story. The pigs love eating weed, and what gives me pleasure is BBQ pork.

So I brought some pot pork belly to my buddy Steve Freeman at Celtic Cowboy BBQ in Edmonds. And we decided to smoke it.

Steve rubbed the belly, which is basically the part that bacon comes from, with spices and tossed it into the smoker for about 45 minuets. He then seared it on a skillet.

Steve says the results are stunning.

“That’s some pretty happy pork right there. He’s done a good job with that. I really like that,” he said.

And that takes us back to the happiest farm in Washington. Yes, the pigs will become BBQ one day.

But if you gotta go, why not go out on a high.

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Marijuana Legislation: How Legal Is Cannabis Consumption In Each US State?

By Lisa Mahapatra | June 18 2013 7:48 AM

ohhhh-so-beautiful

Medical marijuana use is currently legal in 18 states and Washington, DC, and six more states seem to be following suit. However, the market for legally produced and distributed marijuana is largely untapped, and is expected to explode into a multimillion dollar industry, especially after more states make the move to legalize the drug.

And that’s what entrepreneurs and investors came together to discuss at at the ArcView Group’s quarterly forum on Friday.

Though potentially lucrative, the legal marijuana industry cannot truly mature before laws favoring the responsible distribution of marijuana are passed on local, state and federal levels.

Here is an interactive map that charts out where every American state currently stands on the marijuana use. Click on any state for details. Refer to the key provided below the map.

CONTINUE READING AND VIEW INTERACTIVE MAP HERE….

For the full story click here.

Rand Paul: Marijuana users lose IQ points and lack motivation

By Eric W. Dolan / Monday, June 17, 2013 22:18 EDT

Rand Paul screenshot

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said Monday he did not support the legalization of marijuana, though he did support some form of decriminalization.

“What I think is that if your kid or one of his friends goes out and gets caught with marijuana, sticking them in prison is a big mistake,” he told Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution. “So I don’t really believe in prison sentences for these minor non-violent drug offenses, but I’m not willing to go all the way to say it is a good idea either. I think people who use marijuana all the time lose IQ points, I think they lose their drive to show up for work.”

Paul, however, added that he believed individual states should be allowed to decide whether they wanted to legalize marijuana or not.

Much to the chagrin of his libertarian supporters, Paul has said he doesn’t support drug legalization. Despite Paul’s lack of support for legalization, many drug policy reformers view him as an ally because of his support for legislation to scale back the war on drugs.

During the Hoover Institution interview, Paul also said he supported overturning the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. He said abortion as well as same-sex marriage should be issues for the states to decide.

Watch video, courtesy of the Wall Street

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