All posts by ShereeKrider

U.S. Marijuana Party - Organizer U.S. Marijuana Party Kentucky Sheree Krider, LLC Cave City, Kentucky 42127 270-834-7332

Bipartisan bill offered in House to protect marijuana users in legal weed states

Bipartisan bill offered in House to protect marijuana users in legal weed states

By Lydia Wheeler – 02/15/18 05:19 PM EST

A bipartisan bill was offered in the House on Thursday seeking to circumvent attempts by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to encourage stricter enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal.

Reps. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced the “Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act,” which would mirror a Obama-era memo that relaxed enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal. Sessions rescinded the memo last month.

The lawmakers say their legislation would protect people from being prosecuted for legal medical and recreational marijuana use.

“To date, eight states have legalized recreational cannabis, and twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, representing more than half of the American population, have enacted legislation to permit the use of cannabis,” Correa said in a statement.

“Attorney General Sessions’ decision to rescind the ‘Cole Memo’ created great uncertainty for these states and legal cannabis businesses, and put citizens in jeopardy for following their state laws,” he said.

In rescinding the 2013 directive from then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole, Sessions did not explicitly call for action, but the move opens the door for federal prosecutors to begin pursuing cases against both businesses that sell weed and residents who use it.

The memo had prioritized other prosecutions ahead of marijuana use offenses.

In a statement, Gaetz called the former memo good policy but bad governance because it was not passed through an act of Congress.

“We are a nation of laws, not department-wide memos. We should not tell prosecutors to ‘pick and choose’ what laws to uphold,” he said. “When federal law conflicts with state laws and the will of the American people, it’s time to change the laws.”

CONTINUE READING…

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U.S. judge weighs challenge to federal marijuana prohibition

Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday urged a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to overturn the United States’ longstanding prohibition of marijuana, the latest court battle over federal policy under President Donald Trump’s administration.

The argument, before U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan, came about a month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would abandon a policy of former President Barack Obama that had left regulation of the drug largely up to states.

Several states including, California, Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 29 states allow some medical use.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in July, include the parents of two children who use marijuana to treat illness, and former New York Jets player Marvin Washington, who works with a company that develops marijuana-based products.

They claim that the federal ban on marijuana violates the U.S. Constitution. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a “Schedule I” drug, meaning that it is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no medical use. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Dolinger, arguing for the government, said federal law did not allow the plaintiffs to challenge the marijuana ban in court. Instead, he said, they must bring a petition through the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“The agency process is exhaustive,” he said.

Michael Hiller, lawyer for the plaintiffs, countered that the process was “futile,” and that there was no “rational basis” for marijuana to remain on Schedule I.

One of the children in the lawsuit, Alexis Bortell, successfully treats seizures using the drug, while another, Jagger Cotte, has used it to alleviate pain associated with a neurological condition called Leigh’s Disease, Hiller said.

“I represent people who need cannabis to live,” he said.

Hellerstein expressed sympathy for the plaintiffs during the hearing.

“How could anyone say that your clients’ lives have not been saved by marijuana?” he asked at one point.

However, the judge said he was not sure whether he had the authority to reschedule the drug. He also dismissed Heller’s argument that the prohibition was motivated by political concerns and racism when it was passed.

“The law is the law,” the judge said. “I‘m sworn to enforce the law.”

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

CONTINUE READING…

Trump Administration Battles Sick Kids on Access to Legal Pot

By Erik Larson February 14, 2018, 3:56 PM CST

In a New York courtroom packed with cannabis supporters, the Trump administration urged a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit that aims to pave the way for legal marijuana across the country.

The case was brought on behalf of two sick children, a former National Football League player who says athletes deserve a better way to treat head trauma than addictive opioids and the Cannabis Cultural Association. The suit, filed in July 2017, seeks a ruling that marijuana was unconstitutionally labeled alongside heroin and LSD as a so-called Schedule I drug — the harshest of five government ratings — when Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act in 1970.

In court on Wednesday, Justice Department attorney Samuel Hilliard Dolinger said the plaintiffs didn’t follow legal requirements before suing, beginning with a petition to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

“The right thing is to defer to the agency,” said U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, an 84-year-old who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton, who famously admitted to experimenting with pot while claiming he “didn’t inhale.”

Cannabis legalization has gained momentum in states, even with an unfriendly face in the U.S. Attorney General’s office. Nine states and Washington, D.C., allow adults to use the plant as they wish. More than one in five people can legally eat, drink, smoke or vape, according to state regulations. Twenty additional states have legalized pot for medicinal use.

Trump Interrupts Marijuana’s Path From Taboo to Legit: QuickTake

Hellerstein said he would issue a ruling later, and it was far from clear which way he was leaning. The judge, who had the courtroom erupting in laughter on more than a few occasions during the hearing, was skeptical of the government’s claim that there’s no medical benefit to marijuana.

“Your clients are living proof of the medical effectiveness of marijuana,” Hellerstein said to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Michael Hiller.

The legal cannabis industry is predicted to reach $50 billion in sales by 2026, up from $6 billion in 2016, according to investment bank Cowen & Co. Still, the industry is rife with risk. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded in January the Obama-era policies that ushered in legalization in many states.

The lawsuit has some star power with plaintiff Marvin Washington, who played for the New York Jets. He joined the case because the Controlled Substance Act made him ineligible for grants under the Federal Minority Business Enterprise program, which he planned to use for his medicinal cannabis business.

The suit also highlighted the human toll of the federal government’s war on marijuana with young plaintiffs whose lives have been saved or improved by cannabis, including 11-year-old Alexis Bortell of Colorado and seven-year old Jagger Cotte of Georgia.

Bortell’s epileptic seizures were brought under control by cannabis after her family moved from Texas to Colorado so she could legally use it in that state, according to the suit. Cotte, who suffers from Leigh’s Disease, was able to treat excruciating pain with medicinal marijuana and prolong his life by two years beyond his maximum prognosis, according to the suit.

The complaint notes that American presidents from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama have smoked pot. It also claims the Nixon administration was motivated by ulterior motives when it pushed for the Controlled Substance Act.

Cannabis was criminalized “not to control the spread of a dangerous drug, but rather to suppress the rights and interests of those whom the Nixon Administration wrongly regarded as hostile to the interests of the U.S. — African Americans and protesters of the Vietnam War,” the suit says.

At the hearing, Hellerstein said that argument wasn’t going to work with him.

The decision “will not depend on what may have been in the mind of Richard Nixon at the time,” Hellerstein said.

— With assistance by Jennifer Kaplan

CONTINUE READING…

Court hears challenge to federal marijuana laws

Trial begins for advocates suing Sessions and the DEA over …

ALEXIS BORTELL V. JEFF SESSIONS; FEBRUARY 14, 2018 AT 11:00AM.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor
Why risk everything in court instead of moving to Vancouver without a fight? This. This is medical cannabis. This is us. I am one of millions of faces not ‘the one face’. In two days they have to listen to ALL of us. I will go to the Supreme Court if I have to. #IStandWithAlexis . #AlexisBortell
Alexis Bortell

56 mins ·

Hearing is now moved up to 11 a.m. tomorrow. Please let everyone know. Thanks!

#IStandWithAlexis

Alexis Bortell

July 25, 2017 ·

JEFF SESSIONS SUED IN LANDMARK LAWSUIT CHALLENGING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT

“Beleaguered” Attorney General Jeff Sessions was named a defendant today in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act as it pertains to Cannabis/Marijuana. In a 90-page Complaint, attorneys representing five plaintiffs maintain that the CSA, in classifying Cannabis as a “Schedule I drug,” is so irrational that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

In their Complaint, plaintiffs demonstrate that the Federal Government does not, and could not possibly, believe that Cannabis meets the definition of a Schedule I drug, which is reserved for the most dangerous of substances, such as heroin, LSD and mescaline. By way of comparison, cocaine and crystal meth are considered Schedule II drugs and are thus considered less addictive and less dangerous.

To be classified under Schedule I, a drug: (i) must have a high potential for abuse; (ii) must have absolutely no medical use in treatment; and (iii) cannot be used or tested safely, even under strict medical supervision. The plaintiffs point out that the Federal Government knows that Cannabis does not meet these requirements, especially given that, among other things, the Federal Government: (a) obtained its own medical patent based upon the Federal Government’s assertion that medical Cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and HIV-induced dementia (among other conditions); (b) established a national policy to refrain from investigating and/or prosecuting medical Cannabis businesses and users in the 29 States and three other areas under American jurisdiction (including Washington, DC) that have legalized Cannabis for medical and/or recreational use; (c) provided instructions, through issuance of the FinCen Guidance, on how financial institutions can bank Cannabis business; and (d) admitted that Cannabis does constitute medicine, including through statements by the U.S. Surgeon General and a Federal Administrative Law Judge.

“The record makes clear that the CSA doesn’t make any rational sense, and the Federal Government knows it,” says Michael Hiller, lead counsel in the case. Hiller went on to explain that, “if the Federal Government doesn’t believe in the rationality of its own statute, it’s unconstitutional to enforce it.”

Among the other claims in the lawsuit are that the CSA: (i) was enacted and implemented in order to discriminate against African Americans and to suppress people’s First Amendment rights; and (ii) violates plaintiffs’ constitutional Right to Travel.

The plaintiffs include:

• retired professional football player and Super Bowl Champion, Marvin Washington, who desires, but is ineligible (due to the CSA) to obtain grants under the Federal Minority Business Enterprise program, to open a business that would allow professional football players (among others) to treat with medical Cannabis to reduce opioid dependency and addition;

• an 11-year old girl, Alexis Bortell, who moved to Colorado from Texas so that she could treat her intractable epilepsy with medical Cannabis;

• a six-year old Georgia boy suffering from Leigh’s Disease, Jagger Cotte, who has been using medical Cannabis to lengthen his life and control his otherwise excruciating pain;

• disabled military combat veteran Jose Belen, who uses medical Cannabis to control his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and

• the Cannabis Cultural Association, whose membership includes many People of Color who contend that the CSA was enacted and has been enforced in a discriminatory manner, rendering them unable to participate in, among other things, the Cannabis industry.

Lauren Rudick, a member of Hiller’s firm representing Cannabis businesses, observed that, at present, “more than 60% of Americans live in a jurisdiction in which medical Cannabis is legal.” She also remarked that a “4/20/2017 Quinnipiac poll found that over 90% of Americans support the use of medical Cannabis – and it’s near impossible to get 90% of the Country to agree on anything.” These numbers led Joseph Bondy, a federal criminal defense attorney and legalization advocate working as co-counsel with the Hiller firm on this case, to “question the agenda of those who continue to push for enforcement of the CSA, given its unlawful and discriminatory impact and that so few in America support such an effort.”

The defendants in the case are Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Administrator of the DEA Chuck Rosenberg, the Justice Department, the DEA and the Federal Government. Co-counsel David Holland, a litigator and longtime advocate for legalization of Cannabis, noted that the “the efforts to criminalize Cannabis are relatively recent and were largely underwritten by racial and ethnic animus.” As reflected in the Complaint, African Americans and other Persons of Color are four times as likely to be arrested under the CSA than white Americans, even though Cannabis is used equally by People of Color and Caucasians.

Contact: Michael S. Hiller (212) 319-4000 x. 308 and (646) 408-5995
Lauren Rudick (212) 319-4000 x. 319 and (917) 405-4206
Joseph Bondy (646) 335-3988
David Holland (212) 842-2480 and (917) 861-2678

#ForAllPatients #AlexisBortell
*Picture Originally shared by Mr. Clark.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, closeup

CONTINUE READING AND TO SOURCE

Video:  Girl taking medical marijuana sues Jeff Sessions and DEA

ALEXIS

https://mjbizdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/ECF-Version-of-Complaint.pdf

Kathy Inman

Kathy Inman Great Work!!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Rick Donaldson

Rick Donaldson Alexis, would it be of any benefit to get more people to sign on with these attorneys, to increase the sound/impact of this suit ?

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Jared Jennings

Jared Jennings Do you have a link to the initial or amended complaint? I’d love to read it.

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Alexis Bortell

Alexis Bortell It is on the Pacer system for New York courts we are told.

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Loretta SBuster

Loretta SBuster I love y’all im a Texan illegally trying to heal….

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Samantha Macaluso

Samantha Macaluso You’ve brought me to tears of joy! So happy that there’s a group of people willing to take a stand! I am praying for your continued healing with cannabis and for your lawsuit! May GOD be with you every step of the way!

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Crystal Ramos

Crystal Ramos She stands for freedom and for us all thank you Alexis

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Trevor J Jacovino

Trevor J Jacovino You’ve got so much support Alexis!!! Keep up the good fight, we are here for you!!!

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Pat Warren

Pat Warren WOW !!! the courage of an innocent child …… we should all take lessons from Alexis …..

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Leslie Henson Lindsey

Leslie Henson Lindsey How the crap can you place a patent on a plant. ? God owns all the “patents “

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Michele Ruscitti

Michele Ruscitti Here we go!!! Let’s hope they stay the coarse get all this foolishness out of the way!

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Cindy Ann Trimble

Cindy Ann Trimble God gave us the garden and all within it!

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Pamela Bourque

Pamela Bourque Alexis for president!

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Teddy Vas

Teddy Vas Way to go Alexis!!! God Bless you!!!!!!!

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Jordan Watts

Jordan Watts Huge step toward legalization!

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Kristy Nicole Hendricks

Kristy Nicole Hendricks Go Alexis Go!!! ~hugs from your hometown in Rowlett

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Steve Minton

Steve Minton Ha ha, another nail in the coffin of quivering theocratic fascist and stone-cold racist Jeff Sessions. Trump’s earliest supporter, he’s now finding out the hard way that if you play with the fire of an abusive psychopath like Trump, and defy the will of the people, you get burned.

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Mark Redhawk Nelson

Mark Redhawk Nelson Government and fda has zero control of herbs. Thats why there isnt a huge market for them. And they dont usually command a premium. But there is money to be made. And they have a criminal institution to prifit from. They dont want to lose tgier inco…See More

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David Smith

David Smith How do I get in on this as a plaintiff – to recoup all the money and stress damages from having to move my elderly mom to live with me in CA, where I am a patient, because of Texas prohibition?

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Annette Anderson

Annette Anderson Alexis Bortell, I am so proud of all the great things you have already accomplished and look forward to the amazing things from you in the future. Would love to meet a fellow Texan MMJ refugee but either this us you have planned, you’ll be very busy. I…See More

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Amber Michaels

Amber Michaels I’m with you Alexis!!!!! I may have epilepsy too which more and more docs think I do but to get to Denver to see a neurologist is gonna be the downside!!!! Gotta have a babysitter and got to have a car that’s been checked out before going the drive!!!!…See More

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Elaad Teuerstein

Elaad Teuerstein Good luck with the lawsuit. It’s about time the world got rid of this rediculous ban on MJ. It’s not just the US that tightly controls use of the plant but most countries around the globe have followed suit out of fear of confronting the US about it or…See More

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Terry Odom

Terry Odom Good luck in the fight. It’s such a screwed up system. The government is completely irrational in their logic. And , seriously, it’s always been here, they’re not ever going to eliminate it. Total waste of time, resources, and lives.

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Krizzy Carter

Krizzy Carter Alexis, I have finally moved back to TX and am finally home. My biggest wish is that you can be too one day. All the love and support… from Plano! ❤️

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Ben Morris

Ben Morris Your family is brave and inspiring. Any way to get cannabis legal federally and give access to medicine for kids should be celebrated

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Karen Lockwood

Karen Lockwood Awesome! Alexis, you’ve got a lot of people on your side of this issue. Let the battle begin!! Keep us minions updated, we’ll do whatever it takes to support this battle and fight for the win!

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Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams GOOOOOOO, ALEX!!! Giv’em hell girl!!!
I was living in Plano when u and ur family lived in Frisco, and then made the heartbreaking decision to leave friends, family, ur school to move to Colorado. Ive been with u since then! I commend ur bravery and pray one day this will all be a fading memory!!! Keep up the avocation and I’ll definitely be behind u will ALL my support!!!

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Sharon J. Tucker

Sharon J. Tucker My family and friends all support medical cannabis. We all have family and friends in desperate need of medical cannabis. We are tired of begging for this much needed medicine. Veterans too.

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Clarke Bohorfoush

Clarke Bohorfoush Alexis!! Our prayers are with you and you have our full support!! You’re an incredibly brave young lady and your courage will change this country and the world!!

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Samantha Macaluso

Samantha Macaluso Everyone please reach out to Sessions before his meeting on Thursday with DEA! Your voice matters!!!https://www.justice.gov/contact-us

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Casey Langham

Casey Langham Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness….. this plant represents all of these things …. thank you for fighting the good fight

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Darcelia Coleman Haney

Darcelia Coleman Haney Get ’em! Politics having way to much power regarding medicinal use.

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William Joey Dorsett

William Joey Dorsett I hope we win, I hope they end up having to pay, having the rescedual, and having to release people from jail…

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Suzanne Wall

Suzanne Wall Thank you! I am praying for God to give victory to all of you!! Us!!

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee You go girl!! All it takes is one strong will to change the world We’re all behind you cheering!

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J D Goodwin

J D Goodwin Children of the cannabis are coming for you Jeff…be very afraid.

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Jason McCathern

Jason McCathern Ya I knew ole Jeff Sessions was gonna be trouble for us weed smokers from the get-go!

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Belle Shildmyer

Belle Shildmyer

Tenor

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Rob Taft

Rob Taft Sign me up www.420central.org is behind you

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Pat Trahan

Pat Trahan If you need help please post. Good for you, many thanks!

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Shirley McNeal

Shirley McNeal You go Alexis, send them back to school so you can teach them a little more

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Mary Hartman

Mary Hartman The fact that there is even a prescription drug named Marinol negates the fourth paragraph!

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Ingrid Joiya-Warrick

Ingrid Joiya-Warrick FANTASTIC! This should slow Sessions happy ass up until Trump dumps him.

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Rob Paulk

Rob Paulk jeff.sessions. wud die from brain cancer if he only had a brain

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Luis Castellanos Padilla

Luis Castellanos Padilla Fight the good fight
Alexis, Wisconsin,God,&90%of Americans,are with you,!!!

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Adam Cericola

Adam Cericola Wow Alexis Bortell go get em! Prayers for you and your family.

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D Ronald Dudding Jr.

D Ronald Dudding Jr. Bob Goodlatte won’t get on board with nothing but heartless politicians we are seeing a change in Virginia his approval rating has dropped and that’s my opponent in 2018

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Lisa Reichenbach

Lisa Reichenbach What an amazing girl you are! Thank you from so many of us to you and your family for all that you are doing!

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Alexis Bortell

8 hrs ·

It is almost time. Tomorrow is our day. All of us…
I am not suing for money. All I want is freedom to live my life where I want and for the government to get out of MY way. We are standing against medical tyranny. http://ow.ly/Q3tz30in80R #IStandWithAlexis #AlexisBortell

Lawsuit Takes Aim at Trump Administration Marijuana Policy

In a sprawling complaint citing the benefits of pot reaching back 10,000 years, the suit seeks to decriminalize the drug under federal law.

nytimes.com

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James Meissner

James Meissner U go Alexis Bortell !! #WakeUpWorld #LifeOverLaw #EndTheWarOnPeople #EndTheDrugWar #OnePlant united! Its time!

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Robyn James

Robyn James When we have to fight the government, to treat our illness with a plant, the government is corrupt and needs to be overthrown!! Taking our power back one trial at a time!

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Alexis Bortell

51 mins ·

Hearing is now moved up to 11 a.m. tomorrow. Please let everyone know. Thanks! #IStandWithAlexis

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Penny Webb Ransom

Penny Webb Ransom Will have you and the others in my thoughts and prayers.
Tom McCain will peach-tree norm be following this or GA care?

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Robin Hurshman

Robin Hurshman Praying for you Alexis! We will be there with in spirit! Much love and support for such a strong young lady.

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Alexis Bortell

Yesterday at 9:50am ·

Why risk everything in court instead of moving to Vancouver without a fight? This. This is medical cannabis. This is us. I am one of millions of faces not ‘the one face’. In two days they have to listen to ALL of us. I will go to the Supreme Court if I have to. #IStandWithAlexis . #AlexisBortell

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Kyle Young

Kyle Young Two more days I will be praying for you Alexis. AG Sessions needs to eat his words and do what the American People WANT!!!

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Denise Chuck Schrader

Denise Chuck Schrader because marijuana should be the American peoples right…. it shouldn’t have anything stopping anyone that has tried it and it has helped…. #yougotthisgirl #IStandWithAlexis

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Alexis Bortell shared their post.

Yesterday at 6:27am ·

2 more days until our day in Federal Court! Here is the original post with the two images if people want to change their profile picture to show support for the case.

Many Alexis Bortell page friends will be there and we advise people to arrive early as it is going to be busy.

We have heard there are no phones or cameras allowed in the court room but we haven’t spoken to the courthouse security directly yet to confirm. If someone confirms first, please let us know.

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Alexis Bortell added 2 new photos.

February 5 at 12:06pm ·

Here are two images people can use if they want to as their profile pictures to support our case and the hearing on Feb 14th. Your support means a lot to all o…

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Randy Carter

Randy Carter

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Dan Drouin

Dan Drouin I do hope they at least allow TV cameras in there

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Alexis Bortell

Alexis Bortell In front they will

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Alexis Bortell shared OneLuv Organics‘s post.

February 11 at 8:36am ·

I get asked by lots of people if they can sell our soaps in their businesses. Yes, you can and we put a post out about it this morning on our OneLuv Organics page.

Quick summary: You can email support@oneluvorganics.com subject “Reseller” and we will send you details .

It is very easy.

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OneLuv Organics

February 11 at 8:22am ·

Three questions we get often are:

1. How do we join your reseller program and is it hard to join?
To join, email support@oneluvorganics.com subject “Reseller …

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Alexis Bortell

February 10 at 11:58am ·

By using code ‘HHLEX’ you save $10 per bottle of Haleigh’s Hope (they make my medicine) and they donate to my ‘Patches of Hope’ feed the hungry program. This has already raised almost $400 for Patches of Hope. Thanks! http://ow.ly/h0Gl30ik6ig My Soap Store: http://ow.ly/j9gG30ik6eJ

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Alexis Bortell

February 10 at 9:37am ·

4 more days and WE WILL have our day in federal court. Article: http://ow.ly/JER830ik184 Attached is the form with the court information if you want to attend. They are expecting LOTS of people inside and outside the courthouse because it is open to the public. #IStandWithAlexis

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Netha Morgan

Netha Morgan Alexis, gold star mother here, all of our ancestors that have gone before us including my son specialist David John Badie U.S.ARMY(k.i.a.8/1/08) are with you stand strong along with all of those Warriors they will hold you they will guide you and they will help to kick sessions ass good luck my little sister

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Alexis Bortell

Alexis Bortell Thank you.

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Jennifer Leigh Scott

Jennifer Leigh Scott So my son is 12, this is what I’m gonna need from you. I’m gonna need you to marry my son when you grow up because I cannot imagine having a more bad ass daughter in law than you! ❤️
#IstandWithAlexis
#MyIdol

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Alexis Bortell

Alexis Bortell Um, lol.

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Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks to the National Sheriffs’ Association

Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks to the National Sheriffs’ Association

Washington, DC

~

Monday, February 12, 2018

Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Thank you, Jonathan, for that kind introduction.  It’s good to see you again.  I also want to recognize Greg Champagne of St. Charles, Louisiana.
Before I say anything else, I have to acknowledge, with great sadness, that we lost two police officers this weekend.  Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering of Westerville, Ohio were shot to death around noontime Saturday.  Between them they had nearly 40 years of law enforcement service.  I want to join with President Trump in offering my condolences to their families at this difficult time.
It is an honor to be with you this morning.  The National Sheriffs’ Association is one of the biggest law enforcement groups in America—with more than 20,000 members and 75 years of history.
I want to thank you for what you do.  I’ve heard about how you’ve trained more than 1,000 law officers in using narcan—an overdose reversal drug.  You’ve donated thousands of narcan kits across 21 different states.  I’m told that you’ve already reversed hundreds of overdoses. 
I’m pleased to see that my home state of Alabama is well-represented here. We have 14 Alabama sheriffs with us this morning, as well as the long time Executive Director of the Alabama Sheriffs Association, Bobby Timmons.  Thank you all for keeping Alabama safe.
On behalf of President Trump, I am here to say thank you to everyone here for your service to this country.
I know that many of you have met with the President.  You know that he is a strong supporter of law enforcement.
This is an administration that listens to you and that understands this community.  We understand the risks you take and the tools you need to be effective.
I know that sometimes in the past, you haven’t had the support that you deserve.  You’ve had politicians tie your hands with ineffective policies or fail to understand the challenges your deputies face and fail to respect the impact of their work and service.
Let me say this loud and clear: President Trump and I are proud to stand with all of you.
The most important thing that any government does is keep its citizens safe.  The first civil right is the right to be safe.
Too often, politics gets in the way of that mission.
Right now, we’re trying to confirm a number of important component heads at the Department of Justice.  That includes a new head of our Criminal Division, our Civil Rights Division, and our National Security Division.  These are critically important components—and outstanding nominees.  Our nominee to lead the National Security Division was approved unanimously in committee.  But because of one senator’s concerns over unrelated political issues—like legalizing marijuana—we can’t even get a vote.
I’m Attorney General of the United States.  I don’t have the authority to say that something is legal when it is illegal—even if I wanted to.  I cannot and will not pretend that a duly enacted law of this country—like the federal ban on marijuana—does not exist.  Marijuana is illegal in the United States—even in Colorado, California, and everywhere else in America.
 
We need our nominees confirmed.  Safety and security are just too important.
Those of gathered here know that protecting the safety and security of the American people is the mission we share.
President Trump understands that law enforcement officers are not the problem—they’re the solution.
I know firsthand the important work that each of you do.  I was a federal prosecutor for 14 years, and during that time, I was blessed to partner every day with federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to protect people’s rights.  We might have been a small U.S. Attorney’s office in Mobile, Alabama, but we worked closely with our Sheriffs and took tons of drugs off our streets, dismantled domestic and international fraud schemes, and we prosecuted civil rights offenders to the fullest extent possible.  There is nothing I am more proud of that noble work.
I know that each of you has that same kind of satisfaction as your serve your people.
You are the thin blue line that stands between law-abiding people and criminals – between sanctity and lawlessness.  You protect our families, our communities, and secure our country from drugs and violence.  The people of this country appreciate what you do.  Last summer, Gallup released their annual poll, which showed that overall confidence in the law enforcement rose significantly last year.  That is a testament to the work you do every day.
I’m not sure if you all saw this, but there was a survey recently that showed that more and more of our young people want to go into law enforcement.  According to the survey, it used to be the number 10 dream job for kids under 12.  Now it’s number three overall—and for boys it’s number one.  Athletes dropped while more and more want to wear the badge.
That tells me that we’re doing something right. I have been hearing law enforcement leaders express grave concerns about recruitment, maybe we have turned the corner.
It was largely because of officers like you that crime went down in this country for 20 years. It was a long and historic crime decline, murder rates declined by one half and teen use of drugs declined by half.
But over the past two or three years, the country and some leaders lost their focus that led to progress and our work became more difficult. The result: The violent crime rate went up by nearly seven percent from 2014 to 2016.  Robberies went up.  Assaults went up nearly 10 percent.  Rape went up by nearly 11 percent.  Murder shot up by more than 20 percent.  Meanwhile we have suffered the deadliest drug crisis in American history.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that violent crime and drug abuse rose at the same time. I was just reading one of our Department-funded studies that found that nearly a quarter of the increase in homicides is the result of the increase in drug-related homicides.
And that should be no surprise: drug trafficking is an inherently violent business.  If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t file a lawsuit in court.  You collect it by the barrel of a gun.

But as we all know, violent crime statistics and drug overdose rates are not numbers—we’re talking about moms, dads, daughters, spouses, friends, and neighbors.
We will not stand by and watch violence and addiction rise.  Plain and simple, we will not allow the progress made by our women and men in blue over the past two decades to simply slip through our fingers.  We will not cede one community, one block, or one street corner to violent thugs or poison peddlers. We will protect the poor as well as the rich.
As Attorney General, I am committed to combatting violent crime and supporting your work.  I have made it one of our top priorities.
The day I was sworn in as Attorney General, President Trump sent me a simple, straightforward executive order: reduce crime in America.  Not preside over ever-increasing crime rates.  Reduce crime in America.
At the Department of Justice, we embrace that goal.  And you and I know from experience that it can be done.
Some people don’t think it’s possible, but crime rates aren’t like the tides.  Strong law enforcement and prosecutions can bring them down.
It is our goal to bring down violent crime, homicides, opioid prescriptions, and overdose deaths.  These are the explicit goals we’ve established.
And over the past year, we have taken action to reach these goals.  In 2017, the Department of Justice brought cases against the greatest number of violent criminals in a quarter of a century.  We charged the most federal firearm prosecutions in a decade.  We also arrested and charged hundreds of people suspected of contributing to the ongoing opioid crisis.
We secured the convictions of nearly 500 human traffickers and 1,200 gang members, and worked with our international allies to arrest or charge more than 4,000 MS-13 members.
MS-13 didn’t like that, by the way.
  The Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division recently testified before Congress that the MS-13 gang leaders back in El Salvador have taken notice of these efforts.  They know that hundreds of their members are now behind bars.  So now they’re trying to send younger and more violent gang members to the United States to replenish their depleted ranks.  But they will not succeed.
That’s one more reason that we are no longer allowing so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions to nullify federal immigration law if they want to receive our law enforcement grants.
It’s not that we want to de-fund these cities and states.  We want them to rethink their policies and start to cooperate with federal law enforcement. I cannot send funds to jurisdictions who won’t meet minimum standards of partnership.
I know that this issue is important to this organization, and I want to thank you for the work that you have done.
I was in Florida last week to discuss our ongoing opioid crisis, and I had the chance to meet with a number of Florida sheriffs.
In working with the National Sheriffs Association, seventeen Florida sheriffs have worked out an agreement with ICE to help them take criminal aliens out of the Sunshine State.  Aliens held by these sheriffs are held under color of federal authority—and that protects these sheriffs from being sued just for doing their jobs.
I want to encourage more of these agreements across America.
By definition, removing criminal aliens from our communities makes us safer. And I want you to consider joining the very effective 287(g) program.
We are already starting to see positive signs of the Trump administration’s approach to crime.  In the first six months of last year, the increase in the murder rate slowed significantly and violent crime actually went down.  Publicly available data for the rest of the year suggest we may see further progress.
These are major accomplishments that benefit the American people.  And we could not have realized them without you—without a strong partnership between our federal team and our state and local law enforcement personnel.
Based on my experience meeting with officers like you, I believe that morale is already up among our law enforcement community. I can feel the difference.  And we have good reason to be encouraged.
Any loss of life is one too many, but it is encouraging that the number of officers killed in the line of duty declined last year and reached its second lowest level in more than half a century.  That’s something that we all should celebrate and be thankful for.
At the Department of Justice we appreciate the service of every single federal agent.  But we are well aware that 85 percent of law enforcement is state, local, and tribal.  Yours are the deputies that have the critical street-level intelligence regarding the criminal element.  Federal officers have the unique capability to follow a case across state borders and even across national borders.  We can reach defendants all over the world.
We want to be a force-multiplier for you.  Our work is most effective when experienced state and local investigators are paired with the resources and expertise of the 15 percent that are our federal law enforcement.
That’s why we have reinstated our equitable sharing program at the Department of Justice.  Civil asset forfeiture is a key tool that helps law enforcement defund organized crime, take back ill-gotten gains, and prevent new crimes from being committed.  It weakens the criminals and the cartels.  Civil asset forfeiture takes the material support of the criminals and makes it the material support of law enforcement. In departments across this country, funds that were once used to take lives are now being used to save lives. And there is nothing wrong with adoptive forfeitures. There can be no federal adoption if the forfeiture is not called for under federal law. In many cases, adoptive forfeitures represent great partnerships between federal and state law enforcement.
Criminals should not be permitted to profit from their crimes.
Sheriff Eavenson has been a long-time advocate for this approach, and we’re grateful for his valued advice.

Helping law enforcement do their jobs, helping the police get better, and celebrating the noble, honorable, and challenging work of our law enforcement communities will always be a top priority of President Trump and this Department of Justice. Indeed, his first executive order to us on my first day was to back the men and women in uniform.
Together we can do this.  We can bring down crime and give every American peace of mind.
I want to close by reiterating my deep appreciation and profound thanks to all the women and men of law enforcement – federal, state, local, and tribal.  I want to thank every sheriff in America. Since our founding, the independently elected Sheriff has been seen as the people’s protector, who keeps law enforcement close to and amenable to the people. The Sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage.
The work that you do – that you have dedicated your lives to – is essential.  I believe it.  The Department of Justice believes it.  And President Trump believes it.
You can be certain about this: we have your back and you have our thanks.

Speaker:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Component(s):

Office of the Attorney General

Updated February 12, 2018

SOURCE LINK

PETITION: Demand President Trump Stop the Criminalization of Kratom!

Kratom Warriors:

As many of you know, we just announced that nine noted scientists, working with the American Kratom Association (AKA), authored a letter to President Trump’s White House Opioid Crisis Team Leader Kellyanne Conway and Acting DEA Administrator Robert W. Patterson.

This letter amplified the voice of the scientific community – now it’s time for President Trump and Ms. Conway to hear YOUR voice with this petition.

In their letter, the scientists called out the FDA directly for their use of “bad science” when determining the safety profile of kratom.

And that’s why you and I must demand they disregard the FDA’s latest disinformation campaign against kratom.

Please take a few moments and sign the petition to demand the President and Ms. Conway help protect the freedom of consumers to make their own choices about their health and well-being and to stop the criminalization of kratom.

There are organizations across the United States and within the Federal Government working day and night to criminalize kratom.

They don’t care about the truth, the science, or the disastrous impacts banning kratom would have on millions of Americans.

We MUST come together as a kratom community RIGHT NOW to say with one unified voice – STOP THE ATTACK ON KRATOM!

Below is the text of the petition being sent to President Trump and Ms. Conway:

———————————————————————————————————

PETITION TO PRESIDENT TRUMP AND KELLYANNE CONWAY

We the undersigned ask for your immediate action to protect the freedom of consumers to make their own health care decisions, and stop the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from their broad regulatory overreach and the criminalization of millions of Americans who use kratom. 

Kratom is a safe herbal supplement that is used by Americans to manage their health and well-being. Many have found kratom to be an effective alternative pain management therapy to dangerously addictive and deadly opioids. Leading scientists have concluded that banning kratom will create an unsafe kratom black market, and force kratom users who manage acute or chronic pain to deadly opioids and will lead to increased opioid deaths in America.

Mr. President, we ask that you direct the FDA and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to research how kratom can best be used as both an alternative pain management therapy, and as a potential step-down from opioid addiction; and direct the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to return the proposed scheduling recommendation for kratom to the FDA and NIDA for those additional studies — and leave those Americans who use kratom for their personal health and well-being alone!

————————————————————————————————————————

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION TO PRESIDENT TRUMP AND MS. CONWAY – LET’S SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE THAT KRATOM SHOULD BE PROTECTED!

Once you sign this petition, please forward this email to friends, family and even neighbors. Even if they are not a kratom consumer, please try to get their help in supporting this petition.

It is only because of your continued support that we are able to keep fighting to protect kratom. Thank you for your immediate action today.

Dave Herman

American Kratom Association

#IAMKRATOM

#teamAKA

Maine becomes first state to protect marijuana use outside of work

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Author

Valerie Bolden-Barrett

Published

Feb. 1, 2018

Dive Brief:
  • Beginning today, employers in Maine are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their marijuana or marijuana byproduct use outside of work, attorneys at Littler Mendelson report. Maine’s Labor Department also removed the drug from the list of substances for which employers may test applicants.
  • The law prohibits employers from disciplining or refusing to hire workers age 21 or older based on their off-site marijuana use. Employers are still free to prohibit its use and possession in the workplace and can discipline employees who are under the influence of marijuana in the workplace. According to Littler, a spokesperson for the state labor department says that a positive test result won’t be enough to prove that an employee was under the influence.
  • Littler says Maine’s law doesn’t affect compliance with federally mandated testing for marijuana, like that required by U.S. Department of Transportation regulations.
Dive Insight:

Some other states, like California, have legalized recreational marijuana use, but until now, none prevented employers from enforcing anti-drug policies or refusing to hire candidates who test positive for the drug. With the recent influx of employee-friendly state and local laws, however, employers may see other states and cities adopt laws similar to Maine’s.

And while the Maine law’s provisions certainly raise some compliance and enforcement questions, employers remain free to prohibit drug use at work. HR managers at affected employers, however, may want to update their organization’s handbook or other drug policies to reflect the changes.

Recommended Reading:

CONTINUE READING…

Facebook announces latest step in censorship campaign, prioritizing “local news”

by Will Morrow (WSWS repost)
Tuesday Feb 6th, 2018 9:09 AM

Facebook’s latest step aimed at censoring online information.

6 February 2018

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced January 29 that the social media platform will prioritize news from “local sources” in the News Feed displayed to users. The announcement is the third in a creeping roll-out of updates announced by Facebook since the start of the year aimed at censoring online information.

On January 12, Facebook reported that it would deprioritize news and political content—that is, display them less often…

—in favor of “personal moments.” One week later, Zuckerberg announced that of the news articles that are shown to users, the News Feed will prioritize those published by what it called “trustworthy” sources, meaning pro-establishment outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Zuckerberg’s post announcing the most recent change made little effort to conceal its political motivation. It would serve to “turn down the temperature on the more divisive issues and instead focus on concrete local issues,” he wrote, so that the population can “all make progress together.”

Presumably this means more information about school bake sales and sporting events, and less about the Trump administration, the global crisis of capitalism, and the growing danger of world war.

Zuckerberg apparently regrets the great technological advance that created the “World Wide Web” and made it possible for people on every continent to communicate with each other rapidly and without corporate and government censors controlling what they say. He prefers the posture of the ostrich with its head stuck firmly in the ground.

The post is filled with the Orwellian newspeak used to describe all of Facebook’s censorship measures. Walling users off from being able to read about events outside their immediate vicinity will help “build community—both on and offline,” and ensure that Facebook “isn’t just fun but also good for your well-being and for society.”

The Facebook billionaire does not want people to have access to unfiltered information on such questions as the United States government preparation to wage nuclear war against North Korea, Russia and China, government censorship of the Internet and spying on the population, mass demonstrations against immigration raids, police violence, workers strikes, or details about growing levels of social inequality, including the fact that five multi-billionaires (Zuckerberg is one) own as much wealth as half the world’s population.

While the change will initially apply to US Facebook accounts, Zuckerberg states that the “goal is to expand to more countries this year.” Pointing to further censorship announcements still to come, Zuckerberg concludes with the note that he is “looking forward to sharing more updates soon.”

There are more than 2 billion Facebook users around the world, the majority of whom access news via the social media platform. Approximately 45 percent of the American population, or 145 million people, access the news on Facebook—the highest news readership rate of any social media platform—according to a Pew Research Center study from November 2017.

Millions of people turned to independent and alternative news publications via social media precisely because it provided a means to circumvent the establishment media, which have become popularly and correctly identified as pro-government propaganda outlets. According to a 2016 Pew Research poll, the American population’s trust in the media had fallen to 32 percent in that year, the lowest level on record.

By confining users to “local news,” the social media giants are seeking to wind back the clock to the days when the population had access to the news mainly through local newspapers, and could find about world events only through the officially sanctioned corporate press.

Zuckerberg’s announcement explains that publishers will be promoted according to how many users in a “tight geographical area” click on links to their articles. This means of surfacing content explicitly demotes web sites which by their nature are oriented to a national or international readership, such as the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), which is directed to the world working class.

It also enforces the monopoly of giant media conglomerates, which own the vast majority of smaller, localised publications. The concentration of newspaper ownership has developed enormously over the past two decades, via an ongoing process of mergers and acquisitions. According to newspaperownership.com, a handful of top private media corporations collectively owned 1,449 newspapers in 2014, up from 1,128 just 10 years earlier. Many more local newspapers have simply closed their doors.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it was testing a new section of its mobile phone app called “Today in,” which will include only local news, events and announcements. The test is being conducted in only six US cities so far. All news publishers who appear there must first be approved and vetted by Facebook’s News Partnerships team.

Facebook’s latest announcement also coincided with Google’s January 26 restricted release of a new smartphone app, Bulletin, to promote what Google calls “hyperlocal” news, which it defines as news “about your community, for your community.”

The application will allow users to publish stories directly to the web through Google, without the need to create their own blog, web page, or use social media. What this will mean in practise is that Google will have even more direct control over the hosting of independent news content not vetted by the state-sanctioned, corporate-controlled media outlets.

Google is already engaged in systematically blacklisting socialist and left-wing news publications, particularly the WSWS, by rigging results from its search engine to block links to specified web domains. This change was initiated by Google in April 2017 under the banner of combating “fake news” and promoting what it called “authoritative” content.

The purpose of the ongoing changes was made clear in a post by Zuckerberg on Wednesday accompanying the company’s latest earnings report. The report showed that Facebook use actually declined for the first time over the past year, a fact that Zuckerberg welcomes in his post. Zuckerberg states that Facebook is taking action to demote “viral videos,” because such material—which includes videos of police violence and war crimes—is not “good for people’s well-being and society.” This argument complements the McCarthyite campaign being waged by the Democratic Party, intelligence agencies and technology companies, labelling all political opposition in the United States as the outcome of Russian influence and “fake news” promoted by the Kremlin.

The post further notes that Facebook is using artificial intelligence to closely monitor every photo, video, message and post on the platform, to “understand all the content on Facebook,” in what amounts to surveillance on billions of people. (See: “From Facebook to Policebook”)

The avalanche of new measures for mass political censorship and surveillance, now being released on a weekly and even daily basis, testifies to the correctness and urgency of the World Socialist Web Site ’s open letter to socialist, left-wing and anti-war organizations, individuals and web sites, “For an International Coalition against Internet Censorship.” We urge our readers to read and widely share the letter and to take up this fight.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/02/06…

CONTINUE READING…

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the agency’s scientific evidence on the presence of opioid compounds in kratom, underscoring its potential for abuse

Kratom-Opioid

For Immediate Release

February 6, 2018

Summary

FDA releases adverse events and scientific analysis providing even stronger evidence of kratom compounds’ opioid properties.

Statement

Over the past several months, there have been many questions raised about the botanical substance known as kratom. Our concerns related to this product, and the actions we’ve taken, are rooted in sound science and are in the interest of protecting public health. However, we recognize that there is still much that is unknown about kratom, which is why we’ve taken some significant steps to advance the scientific understanding of this product and how it works in the body. Today, we’re providing details of some of the important scientific tools, data and research that have contributed to the FDA’s concerns about kratom’s potential for abuse, addiction, and serious health consequences; including death.

Notably, we recently conducted a novel scientific analysis using a computational model developed by agency scientists, which provided even stronger evidence of kratom compounds’ opioid properties. These kinds of models have become an advanced, common and reliable tool for understanding the behavior of drugs in the body. We also have learned more about deaths that involved kratom use, and have identified additional adverse events related to this product. This new data adds to our body of substantial scientific evidence supporting our concerns about the safety and abuse potential of kratom.

We have been especially concerned about the use of kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, as there is no reliable evidence to support the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use disorder and significant safety issues exist. We recognize the need and desire for alternative treatments for both the treatment of opioid addiction, as well as the treatment of chronic pain. The FDA stands ready to evaluate evidence that could demonstrate a medicinal purpose for kratom. However, to date, we have received no such submissions and are not aware of any evidence that would meet the agency’s standard for approval.

The FDA’s PHASE model used to assess kratom

Federal agencies need to act quickly to evaluate the abuse potential of newly identified designer street drugs for which limited or no pharmacological data are yet available. This is why the FDA developed the Public Health Assessment via Structural Evaluation (PHASE) methodology – a tool to help us simulate, using 3-D computer technology, how the chemical constituents of a substance (such as the compounds/alkaloids found in kratom) are structured at a molecular level, how they may behave inside the body, and how they can potentially affect the brain. In effect, PHASE uses the molecular structure of a substance to predict its biological function in the body. For example, the modelling platform can simulate how a substance will affect various receptors in the brain based on a product’s chemical structure and its similarity to controlled substances for which data are already available.

Using this computational model, scientists at the FDA first analyzed the chemical structures of the 25 most prevalent compounds in kratom. From this analysis, the agency concluded that all of the compounds share the most structural similarities with controlled opioid analgesics, such as morphine derivatives.

Next, our scientists analyzed the chemical structure of these kratom compounds against the software to determine its likely biologic targets. The model predicted that 22 (including mitragynine) of the 25 compounds in kratom bind to mu-opioid receptors. This model, together with previously available experimental data, confirmed that two of the top five most prevalent compounds (including mitragynine) are known to activate opioid receptors (“opioid agonists”).

The new data provides even stronger evidence of kratom compounds’ opioid properties.

The computational model also predicted that some of the kratom compounds may bind to the receptors in the brain that may contribute to stress responses that impact neurologic and cardiovascular function. The agency has previously warned of the serious side effects associated with kratom including seizures and respiratory depression.

The third aspect of the model is the 3-D image we generate to look at not just where these compounds bind, but how strongly they bind to their biological targets. We found that kratom has a strong bind to mu-opioid receptors, comparable to scheduled opioid drugs.

So what does this body of scientific evidence mean? The FDA relies on this kind of sophisticated model and simulation to supplement its data on how patients react to drugs; often as a way to fully elucidate the biological activity of a new substance. The data from the PHASE model shows us that kratom compounds are predicted to affect the body just like opioids. Based on the scientific information in the literature and further supported by our computational modeling and the reports of its adverse effects in humans, we feel confident in calling compounds found in kratom, opioids.

Furthermore, this highlights the power of our computational model-based approach to rapidly assess any newly identified natural or synthetic opioids to respond to a public health emergency.

Learnings from reports of death associated with kratom

We’ve been carefully monitoring the use of kratom for several years, and have placed kratom products on import alert to prevent them from entering the country illegally. We have also conducted several product seizures. These actions were based, in part, on a body of academic research, as well as reports we have received, suggesting harm associated with its use. And we are not alone in our evaluation and our public health concerns. Numerous countries, states and cities have banned kratom from entering their jurisdictions. We described some of this information in a public health advisory in November 2017, in which we urged consumers not to use kratom or any compounds found in the plant.

Now, I’d like to share more information about the tragic reports we have received of additional deaths involving the use of kratom. Looking at the information we have received – including academic research, poison control data, medical examiner reports, social science research and adverse event reports – we now have 44 reported deaths associated with the use of kratom. This is an increase since our November advisory, which noted 36 deaths associated with these products. We’re continuing to review the newly received reports and will release those soon. But it’s important to note that these new reports include information consistent with the previous reports.

Today, we’re releasing the reports of the 36 deaths we referenced in November. These reports underscore the serious and sometimes deadly risks of using kratom and the potential interactions associated with this drug. Overall, many of the cases received could not be fully assessed because of limited information provided; however, one new report of death was of particular concern. This individual had no known historical or toxicologic evidence of opioid use, except for kratom. We’re continuing to investigate this report, but the information we have so far reinforces our concerns about the use of kratom. In addition, a few assessable cases with fatal outcomes raise concern that kratom is being used in combination with other drugs that affect the brain, including illicit drugs, prescription opioids, benzodiazepines and over-the-counter medications, like the anti-diarrheal medicine, loperamide. Cases of mixing kratom, other opioids, and other types of medication is extremely troubling because the activity of kratom at opioid receptors indicates there may be similar risks of combining kratom with certain drugs, just as there are with FDA-approved opioids.

However, unlike kratom, FDA-approved drugs have undergone extensive review for safety and efficacy, and the agency continuously tracks safety data for emerging safety risks that were previously unknown. So we have better information about the risks associated with these products; and can better inform the public of new safety concerns. For example, in August 2016, the FDA required a class-wide change to drug labeling to help inform health care providers and patients of the serious risks (including respiratory depression, coma and death) associated with the combined use of certain opioid medications and benzodiazepines. In June 2016, the agency also issued a warning that taking significantly high doses of loperamide, including through abuse or misuse of the product to achieve euphoria or self-treat opioid withdrawal, can cause serious heart problems that can lead to death. We also recently took steps to help reduce abuse of loperamide by requesting packaging restrictions for these products sold “over-the-counter.”

Taken in total, the scientific evidence we’ve evaluated about kratom provides a clear picture of the biologic effect of this substance. Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to prescription opioids. There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use. And claiming that kratom is benign because it’s “just a plant” is shortsighted and dangerous. After all, heroin is an illegal, dangerous, and highly-addictive substance containing the opioid morphine, derived from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants.

Further, as the scientific data and adverse event reports have clearly revealed, compounds in kratom make it so it isn’t just a plant – it’s an opioid. And it’s an opioid that’s associated with novel risks because of the variability in how it’s being formulated, sold and used recreationally and by those who are seeking to self-medicate for pain or who use kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. We recognize that many people have unmet needs when it comes to treating pain or addiction disorders. For individuals seeking treatment for opioid addiction who are being told that kratom can be an effective treatment, I urge you to seek help from a health care provider. There are safe and effective, FDA-approved medical therapies available for the treatment of opioid addiction. Combined with psychosocial support, these treatments are effective. Importantly, there are three drugs (buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone) approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid addiction, and the agency is committed to promoting more widespread innovation and access to these treatments to help those suffering from an opioid use disorder transition to lives of sobriety. There are also safer, non-opioid options to treat pain. We recognize that some patients have tried available therapies, and still have unmet medical needs. We’re deeply committed to these patients, and to advancing new, safe and effective options for those suffering from these conditions.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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Judge dismisses 13 tickets against NJ Weedman

By Olivia Rizzo  For NJ.com

A Trenton Municipal Court judge this week dismissed 13 tickets citing late night violations at NJ Weedman’s Joint, the now-closed Trenton restaurant owned by Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion.

In February 2016, Trenton police continually shut down the restaurant and accompanying “cannabis church,” the Liberty Bell Temple, citing a city ordinance that requires some establishments to close down at 11 p.m.

But Forchion, who has been jailed for almost a year, has always argued that the tickets were “bogus” and did not apply to his businesses because they are in a designated commercial zone.

Trenton Municipal Court Judge Gregory Williams agreed that Forchion’s businesses were not considered a residential building, and dropped 13 of the 22 police lodged against Forchion or his business.

“I feel vindicated,” Forchion said in a phone interview from jail with NJ Advance Media. “It’s not often I have a judge completely on my side.”

Judge denies NJ Weedman's latest quest for freedom

Judge denies NJ Weedman’s latest quest for freedom

Ed Forchion has been locked up on pre-trial detention since March of last year

The marijuana advocate believes that the municipal tickets were the catalyst that led to the raid on his restaurant and his subsequent arrest, which later led to witness tampering charges – the case for which he remains jailed.

The remaining nine tickets, for various other violations, will be discussed in a municipal court hearing in March, Forchion said.

Forchion was found not guilty on one count of witness tampering, but faced a hung jury on the second count, in November 2017. His retrial is pending.

Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook

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