What started as a toothache from a lost filling became a raging infection that landed Christopher Smith in the University of Louisville Hospital

Paducah Sun

 

What started as a toothache from a lost filling became a raging infection that landed Christopher Smith in the University of Louisville Hospital emergency room, then in intensive care on a ventilator and feeding tube.

"It came on so quickly and violently. I was terrified," said Smith, 41, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, who lacked dental insurance and hadn’t been to a dentist for years before the problem arose this month. "I had no idea it could get this serious this quickly."

Smith is one of a growing number of patients seeking help in the ER for long-delayed dental care. An analysis of the most recent federal data by the American Dental Association shows dental ER visits doubled from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.2 million in 2012, or one visit every 15 seconds. ADA officials, as well as many dentists across the nation say the problem persists despite health reform.

"This is something I deal with daily," said Dr. George Kushner, director of the oral and maxillofacial surgery program at U of L. "And there is not a week that goes by that we don’t have someone hospitalized. â ¦ People still die from their teeth in the U.S."

Often, pain is what drives people to the ER, "like a cavity that hurts so much they can’t take it anymore," said Dr. Jeffery Hackman, ER clinical operations director at Truman Medical Center-Hospital Hill in Kansas City, who has noticed a significant rise in dental patients coming to his department in recent years.

Limited insurance coverage is a major culprit; all but 15 percent of dental ER visits are by the uninsured or people with government insurance plans.

The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover dental services for children but not adults. Medicaid plans for adults vary by state, and offer only a short list of dental services in Kentucky.

Medicare generally doesn’t cover dental care at all.

By law, ERs have to see patients even if they can’t pay. But although they often provide little more than painkillers and antibiotics to dental patients, the visits cost more than three times as much as a routine dental visit, averaging $749 if the patient isn’t hospitalized – and costing the U.S. health care system $1.6 billion a year.

"If we were going to the dentist more often, we could avoid a lot of this," said Dr. Ruchi Sahota, a California dentist and consumer adviser for the ADA.

"Prevention is priceless."

CONTINUE READING…

 

Civil War buffs on Confederate flag debate: It's complicated

Reuters

 

By Karl Plume 2 hours ago

Participants in the "Ride for Pride" event stand on the back of their pickup truck as they speak to an assembled crowd during the impromptu ...

 

By Karl Plume

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  5. South Carolina lawmakers clear way for Confederate flag debate: media Reuters

BENSENVILLE, Illinois (Reuters) – If you’re looking for simple answers about the Confederate flag’s place in contemporary America, don’t ask a Civil War reenactor.

"Long story short, it’s complicated," said Mark Edmondson, who played a Union infantryman at a reenactment event in suburban Chicago over the weekend.

"The Confederate battle flag is a necessary part of history and its … important to clarify history and not fall into some politically correct retelling," said the 36-year-old engineer, clad in a Union blue soldier’s uniform.

Questions about the flag invariably produce long and nuanced answers from men and women who spend days each year in mock camps and battlefields recreating American history. For one thing, they don’t like to talk about "the flag" but rather about "the flags."

Reenactors are quick to note that the rectangular "rebel flag," embraced by hate groups and displayed by Dylann Roof, the man accused in the South Carolina church shootings, in pictures he posted on the Internet, was not one of the Confederacy’s three official flags, but instead a Confederate navy banner and the flag of the army of Tennessee.

Many Southern soldiers did carry square Confederate battle flags like the one flying in front of Charleston’s state house, but very few of those soldiers were slave owners and for many of them, the battle was more about other issues, including states’ rights, Edmondson and other reenactors noted.

"That flag probably shouldn’t be flying at the capitol in Charleston, but it’s got a place in history. Our role as reenactors is to teach history, not to present some watered-down misinterpretation of events," said 22-year-old reenactor Grant Kohler, who dressed as a Louisiana soldier of the era, fighting on the Confederate side.

Edmondson, Kohler and some 50 other reenactors gathered at Fischer Farm in Bensenville, Illinois on Saturday, for a weekend of 1860s role playing that included no-frills tent camping, marching drills and a mock musket and cannon battle.

One of hundreds of Civil War reenactments that take place every summer across the country – and one of the first since the South Carolina church shooting – the Bensenville event comes a week before the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, which is expected to draw hundreds of gray- and blue-uniformed history buffs to the Pennsylvania town.

In online forums, too, Civil War reenactors have discussed the Confederate flag in the wake of the Charleston shootings.

"I can understand the removal from modern government buildings. I don’t however agree with the removal from monuments, cemeteries, and private locations," said one post on the online forum cwreenactors.com.

"It starts with the state capitals and in a short time we are the ones being told when, where and how we can put it to use," fretted another.

The debate has brought an unexpected boost in Confederate and other flag sales at the Regimental Quartermaster in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which also sells memorabilia and Civil War-era uniforms to reenactors.

Chris Ackerman, the store’s manager, said he has sold about 130 flags a week since the controversy over the Confederate symbol erupted, up from 5 or 6 a week normally. Only about 30 percent of those sales were Confederate battle flags, however, and most were to return customers he knows to be reenactors.

"Bottom line, this flag is about heritage, not hate," he said. "But if this symbol is successfully toppled, what’s next?"

For Pam Welcome, an African-American reenactor who played Harriet Tubman at the Bensenville event, it’s more complicated. “I’m conflicted. On one hand, I get the controversy about the flag and why they want to take it down. But this is history. Good or bad, this happened, and this is what it looked like. You can’t portray history without that flag, that symbol,”

(Editing by Sue Horton)

View Comments (582)

CONTINUE READING…

Fukushima has already killed one million people

(Robert HunzikerFukushima’s still radiating, self-perpetuating, immeasurable, and limitless, like a horrible incorrigible Doctor Who monster encounter in deep space.

Fukushima will likely go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century.

Governments and corporations are not leveling with citizens about the risks and dangers; similarly, truth itself, as an ethical standard, is at risk of going to shambles as the glue that holds together the trust and belief in society’s institutions. Ultimately, this is an example of how societies fail.

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe.

Part of this reluctance has to do with radiation’s symptoms. It is insidious because it cannot be detected by human senses. People are not biologically equipped to feel its power, or see, or hear, touch or smell it (Caldicott). Not only that, it slowly accumulates over time in a dastardly fashion that serves to hide its effects until it is too late.

fukushima

Chernobyl’s Destruction Mirrors Fukushima’s Future

As an example of how media fails to deal with disaster blowback, here are some Chernobyl facts that have not received enough widespread news coverage: Over one million (1,000,000) people have already died from Chernobyl’s fallout.

Additionally, the Rechitsa Orphanage in Belarus has been caring for a very large population of deathly sick and deformed children. Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to radiation than adults.

Zhuravichi Children’s Home is another institution, among many, for the Chernobyl-stricken: “The home is hidden deep in the countryside and, even today, the majority of people in Belarus are not aware of the existence of such institutions” (Source: Chernobyl Children’s Project-UK).

One million (1,000,000) is a lot of dead people. But, how many more will die? Approximately seven million (7,000,000) people in the Chernobyl vicinity were hit with one of the most potent exposures to radiation in the history of the Atomic Age.

The exclusion zone around Chernobyl is known as “Death Valley.” It has been increased from 30 to 70 square kilometres. No humans will ever be able to live in the zone again. It is a permanent “dead zone.”

Additionally, over 25,000 died and 70,000 disabled because of exposure to extremely dangerous levels of radiation in order to help contain Chernobyl. Twenty percent of those deaths were suicides, as the slow agonizing “death march of radiation exposure” was too much to endure.

Fukushima- The Real Story

In late 2014, Helen Caldicott, M.D. gave a speech about Fukushima at Seattle Town Hall (9/28/14). Pirate Television recorded her speech; here’s the link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qX-YU4nq-g

Dr. Helen Caldicott is co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and she is author/editor of Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, The New Press, September 2014. For over four decades Dr. Caldicott has been the embodiment of the anti-nuclear banner, and as such, many people around the world classify her as a “national treasure”. She’s truthful and honest and knowledgeable.

Fukushima is literally a time bomb in quiescence. Another powerful quake and all hell could break loose. Also, it is not even close to being under control. Rather, it is totally out of control. According to Dr. Caldicott, “It’s still possible that Tokyo may have to be evacuated, depending upon how things go.” Imagine that!

According to Japan Times as of March 11, 2015: “There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima, as explained by Shunichi Tanaka at the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Furthermore, Mr. Tanaka said, there are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.”

Even more ominously, Seiichi Mizuno, a former member of Japan’s House of Councillors (Upper House of Parliament, 1995-2001) in March 2015 said: “The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores… We have groundwater contamination… The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution.” (Source: Nuclear Hotseat #194: Fukushima 4th Anniversary – Voices from Japan, March 10, 2015, http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/2468/)

At Fukushima, each reactor required one million gallons of water per minute for cooling, but when the tsunami hit, the backup diesel generators were drowned. Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns within days. There were four hydrogen explosions. Thereafter, the melting cores burrowed into the container vessels, maybe into the earth.

According to Dr. Caldicott, “One hundred tons of terribly hot radioactive lava has already gone into the earth or somewhere within the container vessels, which are all cracked and broken.” Nobody really knows for sure where the hot radioactive lava resides. The scary unanswered question: Is it the China Syndrome?

Following the meltdown, the Japanese government did not inform people of the ambient levels of radiation that blew back onto the island. Unfortunately and mistakenly, people fled away from the reactors to the highest radiation levels on the island at the time.

As the disaster happened, enormous levels of radiation hit Tokyo. The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s “permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq” (source: Radiation Defense Project). For that reason, Dr. Caldicott strongly advises against travel to Japan and recommends avoiding Japanese food.

Even so, post the Fukushima disaster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the U.S. would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests people not vote for Hillary Clinton. One reckless dangerous precedent is enough for her.

According to Arnie Gundersen, an energy advisor with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, as reported in The Canadian on August 15, 2011: “The US government has come up with a decision at the highest levels of the State Department, as well as other departments who made a decision to downplay Fukushima. In April, the month after the powerful tsunami and earthquake crippled Japan including its nuclear power plant, Hillary Clinton signed a pact with Japan that she agreed there is no problem with Japanese food supply and we will continue to buy them. So, we are not sampling food coming in from Japan.”

However, in stark cont
rast to the United States, in Europe Angela Merkel, PhD physics, University of Leipzig and current chancellor of Germany is shutting down all nuclear reactors because of Fukushima.

Maybe an advanced degree in physics makes the difference in how a leader approaches the nuclear power issue. It certainly looks that way when comparing/contrasting the two pantsuit-wearing leaders, Chancellor Merkel and former secretary of state Clinton.

After the Fukushima blow up, ambient levels of radiation in Washington State went up 40,000 times above normal, but according to Dr. Caldicott, the U.S. media does not cover the “ongoing Fukushima mess.” So, who would really know?

Dr. Caldicott ended her speech on Sept. 2014 by saying: “In Fukushima, it is not over. Everyday, four hundred tons of highly radioactive water pours into the Pacific and heads towards the U.S. Because the radiation accumulates in fish, we get that too. The U.S. government is not testing the water, not testing the fish, and not testing the ambient air. Also, people in Japan are eating radiation every day.”

Furthermore, according to Dr. Caldicott: “Rainwater washes over the nuclear cores into the Pacific. There is no way they can get to those cores, men die, robots get fried. Fukushima will never be solved. Meanwhile, people are still living in highly radioactive areas.”

Fukushima will never be solved because “men die” and “robots get fried.” By the sounds of it, Fukushima is a perpetual radiation meltdown scenario that literally sets on the edge of a bottomless doomsday pit, in waiting to be nudged over.

UN All-Clear Report

A UN (UNSCEAR) report on April 2, 2014 on health impacts of the Fukushima accident concluded that any radiation-induced effects would be too small to identify. People were well protected and received “low or very low” radiation doses. UNSCEAR gave an all-clear report.

Rebuttal of the UNSCEAR report by the German affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War d/d July 18, 2014 takes a defiant stance in opposition to the UN report, to wit: “The Fukushima nuclear disaster is far from over. Despite the declaration of ‘cold shutdown’ by the Japanese government in December 2011, the crippled reactors have not yet achieved a stable status and even UNSCEAR admits that emissions of radioisotopes are continuing unabated. 188 TEPCO is struggling with an enormous amount of contaminated water, which continues to leak into the surrounding soil and sea. Large quantities of contaminated cooling water are accumulating at the site. Failures in the makeshift cooling systems are occurring repeatedly. The discharge of radioactive waste will most likely continue for a long time.”

“Both the damaged nuclear reactors and the spent fuel ponds contain vast amounts of radioactivity and are highly vulnerable to further earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and human error. Catastrophic releases of radioactivity could occur at any time and eliminating this risk will take many decades… It is impossible at this point in time to come up with an exact prognosis of the effects that the Fukushima nuclear disaster will have on the population in Japan… the UNSCEAR report represents a systematic underestimation and conjures up an illusion of scientific certainty that obscures the true impact of the nuclear catastrophe on health and the environment.”

To read the full text of the rejoinder to the UN report, go to:https://japansafety.wordpress.com/tag/saitama/

Fukushima’s Radiation and the Future

Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (AP), June 12, 2015: “Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns… Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste… serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years.”

“Although the Chernobyl accident was a terrible accident, it only involved one reactor. With Fukushima, we have the minimum [of] 3 reactors that are emitting dangerous radiation. The work involved to deal with this accident will take tens of years, hundreds of years,” Prof. Hiroaki Koide (retired), Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, April 25, 2015. “It could be that some of the fuel could actually have gone through the floor of the containment vessel as well… What I’ve just described is very, very logical for anyone who understands nuclear engineering or nuclear energy,” which dreadfully spells-out: THE CHINA SYNDROME.

According to the Smithsonian, April 30, 2015: “Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima: Bird species are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time… Where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.” Developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds are spotted with strange white patches on their feathers.

Maya Moore, a former NHK news anchor, authored a book about the disaster: The Rose Garden of Fukushima (Tankobon, 2014), about the roses of Mr. Katsuhide Okada. Today, the garden has perished: “It’s just poisoned wasteland. The last time Mr. Okada actually went back there, he found baby crows that could not fly, that were blind. Mutations have begun with animals, with birds.”

The Rose Garden of Fukushima features a collection of photos of an actual garden that existed in Fukushima, Japan. Boasting over 7500 bushes of roses and 50-thousand visitors a year, the Garden was rendered null and void in an instant due to the triple disaster — earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown.

The forward to Maya’s book was written by John Roos, former US Ambassador to Japan 2009-13: “The incredible tale of Katz Okada and his Fukushima rose garden was told here by Maya Moore… gives you a small window into what the people of Tohoku faced.”

Roos’ “small window” could very well serve as a metaphor for a huge black hole smack dab in the heart of civilization. Similarly, Fukushima is a veritable destruction machine that consumes everything in its path, and beyond, and its path is likely to grow. For certain, it is not going away.

Thus, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is deeply involved in an asymmetric battle against enormously powerful unleashed out-of-control forces of E=mc2.

Clearly, TEPCO has its back to the wall. Furthermore, it’s doubtful TEPCO will “break the back of the beast.” In fact, it may be an impossible task.

Maybe, just maybe, Greater Tokyo’s 38 million residents will eventually be evacuated. Who knows for sure?

Only Godzilla knows!

CONTINUE READING…

Marijuana makes mother nature cry: report

06/26/15 05:17 PM

facebook twitter 1 save share group 37

By Tony Dokoupil

 

 

Untitled

If you consume cannabis this weekend, you might also be killing fish, clear-cutting forest, and poisoning some cute-faced and endangered members of the weasel family.

That’s one takeaway from new report in the journal BioScience, which details the water-guzzling, land-destroying, pollution-spreading reality of the marijuana farming today.

The work is the most comprehensive effort to date to quantify the environmental costs of serving the country’s millions of regular marijuana users. Among the degradation recorded: diverted streams, displaced plant-life, spilled diesel fuel, reckless use of fertilizers, and dead Pacific fishers (those cute weasels).  

RELATED: Beyond coal and environmentally friendly pot

Because most marijuana consumed in America is grown here, the research adds a green front to the moral and social battle over broader legalization. Because marijuana growers are understandably secretive, however, the scope of their work is hard to measure, and easy to get wrong.

The only certainty is that this research—which did not distinguish between illegal and state-sanctioned growers—won’t be the last word on their impacts, or its relevance to the push for legalization. Softer pot laws have already swept through 23 states in one form or another, and attitudes are changing fast.

For the moment, people tend to argue over what’s best for kids, minorities, sick people, drivers, and the economy at large. Now, they might also have to consider the policy that favors fish, furry animals, forests, streams, and the majesty of nature. 

Predictably, both the pro-and-anti legalization sides see the study as an ally.

Kevin Sabet, for example, is the president of Project SAM, a campaign to keep marijuana illegal and address the failings of the drug war through other means. He instantly turned the study into a new weapon and let fire.

“Everyone thinks that weed is harmless to use, when in reality our earth is very much affected by its production,” he told msnbc. “The only answer to this environmental problem is to reduce our hunger for pot. And that doesn’t happen under legalization.”

RELATED: Are these pot farmers sucking up all California’s water?

Marijuana growers (and, one imagines, marijuana consumers) can just as easily fold the research into their own point of view. They don’t deny that marijuana is a growing threat to the environment, but they attribute that destruction to the perversions of prohibition.

Hezekiah Allen is executive director of the Emerald Growers Association, a trade group that represents state-sanctioned growers in northern California.

“Unregulated commercial agriculture is bound to have more significant impacts than regulated agriculture,” he told msnbc. “The simple solution is that 18 years after California has a legal medical cannabis industry, it’s time for the state to regulate that industry.”

The research was led by the Nature Conservancy, with help from environmental scientists at UC Berkeley and California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their own conclusions tended to the growers point of view. They noted “inherent trade-offs and tension between marijuana cultivation and ecosystem needs,” but also pointed out that new policies could “prevent and mitigate” the current level of damage. 

Earlier this spring, msnbc visited a pot farm in northern California to see a model of sustainable growing, in an industry that suddenly needs one. Casey O’Neill and his brother Nathaniel are third-generation cannabis growers in the famed Emerald Triangle, and co-owners of Happy Day Farms.

Before the drought, the O’Neill brothers invested their life savings in two artificial ponds, which now hold about 2 million gallons of captured rainwater. They also installed solar panels, which power their whole grown, and they continued to rely on only natural fertilizers.

Now they’re trying to spread the good word. They believe that the quickest way to clean up the trade may be to legalize it. That would allow farmers to openly trade best practices, and regulators to easily find those who don’t adopt them, they argue.

“We can be fish-friendly and still produce this incredible economic bounty that comes from the sun through human labor,” said Casey. “It’s the translation of solar dollars into real dollars. And that’s something that we are very honor to participate in.”

Explore:

California, Drug Policy, Drugs, Environment, Green and Marijuana

CONTINUE (VIDEO)

Marijuana and Your Job: What You Need to Know

Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD

Disclosures June 26, 2015

 

To submit a legal/professional nursing question for future consideration, write to the editor at [email protected] (Include "Ask the Expert" in subject line.)

Question

Can I be fired for using marijuana at home or for using recreational marijuana on my day off, when recreational use is legal in my state?

Response from Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD
Healthcare attorney

Fired for Use of Medical Marijuana at Home?

May an employer fire a healthcare professional for use of marijuana for a medical reason, when the employee has a medical marijuana card, medical marijuana is legal in the employee’s state, and the employee uses it off-site and on his or her own time?

It looks like the answer is "yes." An employee may be fired for legal use of medical marijuana. On June 15, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld Dish Network’s firing of a technology worker who was using marijuana for a medical purpose and tested positive on a random drug screen. Use of medical marijuana is legal in Colorado.

In that case, the employee, who is paralyzed from the chest down, uses marijuana at night to treat spasms and seizures. He was tested at work, was positive for marijuana, and the employer fired him, in keeping with the company’s drug-free workplace policy. The employee sued the employer, saying he wasn’t accused of being high on the job, he had good job reviews, the testing was random, and the firing violated the state’s "lawful activities" statute. Colorado’s lower courts held that the firing was legal, and the case went to the state Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court said, "Employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the lawful activities statute."[1]

1 of 4

Next Page

CONTINUE READING…

Rand Paul set to raise money from marijuana industry

By Sam Youngman

[email protected] 26, 2015 Updated 2 hours ago

GOP 2016 Rand

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is looking for big green from the marijuana industry.

Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator and a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, is scheduled to attend a fundraising reception next week at the National Cannabis Business Summit and Expo in Denver.

An invitation to the event says it is being hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association’s political action committee, and a spokeswoman for the group confirmed that Paul will be the only presidential candidate in attendance.

However, Paul campaign spokesman Sergio Gor said Friday that the campaign is hosting the event.

"It’s open to anyone willing to support Senator Rand Paul in Denver," Gor said. "Some of the attendees at NCIA agree with Senator Paul’s legislation of medicinal cannabis reform and hemp cultivation reform and we anticipate will join our event."

Paul has not called for the legalization of marijuana, but he has joined Democratic senators in proposing legislation that would end the threat of prosecution for patients who use medical marijuana, a move that won the acclaim of pro-marijuana groups.

Paul thinks the issue of marijuana legalization "is best left to the states," Gor said Friday. "He’s spoken multiple times that Washington should not get in the way of voters who have passed various types of legislation dealing with cannabis."

Paul has said little publicly about whether he has used marijuana, but he did tell WHAS-TV in Louisville that he "wasn’t a choir boy when I was in college."

"And that I can recognize that kids make mistakes, and I can say that I made mistakes when I was a kid," Paul told the Louisville television station.

But the senator has stopped short of calling for full legalization, as has been done in Colorado, telling the Hoover Institution in 2013 that he isn’t "willing to go all the way to say it is a good idea."

"I think people who use marijuana all the time lose IQ points," Paul said. "I think they lose their drive to show up for work."

The fundraiser is scheduled for Tuesday.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/06/26/3919180/rand-paul-set-to-raise-money-from.html#storylink=cpy

Rand Paul gets highest marks in Marijuana Policy Project’s presidential voter guide

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican (Associated Press)

 

 

By David Sherfinski – The Washington Times – Friday, June 26, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky received the highest grade among more than 20 declared and potential 2016 presidential candidates in a voter guide released Friday by a marijuana policy group, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania fared the worst.

Mr. Paul, received a grade of “A-” from the Marijuana Policy Project. The group said his grade was based largely on his sponsorship of a medical marijuana bill, support for reducing marijuana-related penalties and support for allowing states to regulate marijuana for adult use.

Mr. Christie and Mr. Santorum, meanwhile, two other GOP contenders, both received a grade of “F” “because they oppose reform efforts and they are the most vocal supporters of enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal,” the group said.

“Some of these guys who tout states’ rights, fiscal responsibility, and getting the government out of people’s private lives want to use federal tax dollars to punish adults for using marijuana in states that have made it legal,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the group. “They say using marijuana is immoral or just too dangerous to allow, but serve alcohol, a more dangerous substance, at their fundraisers. The hypocrisy is astonishing.”

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry scored the second best among Republicans with a “B,” with the group citing his stated support for reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

On the Democratic side, former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia and former Rhode Island Gov. and U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee fared the best with a grade of “B+.” The group cited Mr. Webb’s stated support for overhauling the criminal justice reform system and Mr. Chafee’s signing a marijuana decriminalization into law in 2013.

Former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton got a “B-,” with the group citing a willingness to support more research into potential benefits of medical marijuana.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was the lowest among Democrats with a “D.” The group cited his spearheading legislation to create a federal “drug czar” and mandatory minimum sentencing for marijuana-related offenses.

The full guide can be found on the group’s website.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/26/rand-paul-gets-highest-marks-marijuana-policy-proj/#ixzz3eElJT1Si
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Marijuana makes mother nature cry: report

06/26/15 05:17 PM

facebook twitter 1 save share group 37

By Tony Dokoupil

 

 

Untitled

If you consume cannabis this weekend, you might also be killing fish, clear-cutting forest, and poisoning some cute-faced and endangered members of the weasel family.

That’s one takeaway from new report in the journal BioScience, which details the water-guzzling, land-destroying, pollution-spreading reality of the marijuana farming today.

The work is the most comprehensive effort to date to quantify the environmental costs of serving the country’s millions of regular marijuana users. Among the degradation recorded: diverted streams, displaced plant-life, spilled diesel fuel, reckless use of fertilizers, and dead Pacific fishers (those cute weasels).  

RELATED: Beyond coal and environmentally friendly pot

Because most marijuana consumed in America is grown here, the research adds a green front to the moral and social battle over broader legalization. Because marijuana growers are understandably secretive, however, the scope of their work is hard to measure, and easy to get wrong.

The only certainty is that this research—which did not distinguish between illegal and state-sanctioned growers—won’t be the last word on their impacts, or its relevance to the push for legalization. Softer pot laws have already swept through 23 states in one form or another, and attitudes are changing fast.

For the moment, people tend to argue over what’s best for kids, minorities, sick people, drivers, and the economy at large. Now, they might also have to consider the policy that favors fish, furry animals, forests, streams, and the majesty of nature. 

Predictably, both the pro-and-anti legalization sides see the study as an ally.

Kevin Sabet, for example, is the president of Project SAM, a campaign to keep marijuana illegal and address the failings of the drug war through other means. He instantly turned the study into a new weapon and let fire.

“Everyone thinks that weed is harmless to use, when in reality our earth is very much affected by its production,” he told msnbc. “The only answer to this environmental problem is to reduce our hunger for pot. And that doesn’t happen under legalization.”

RELATED: Are these pot farmers sucking up all California’s water?

Marijuana growers (and, one imagines, marijuana consumers) can just as easily fold the research into their own point of view. They don’t deny that marijuana is a growing threat to the environment, but they attribute that destruction to the perversions of prohibition.

Hezekiah Allen is executive director of the Emerald Growers Association, a trade group that represents state-sanctioned growers in northern California.

“Unregulated commercial agriculture is bound to have more significant impacts than regulated agriculture,” he told msnbc. “The simple solution is that 18 years after California has a legal medical cannabis industry, it’s time for the state to regulate that industry.”

The research was led by the Nature Conservancy, with help from environmental scientists at UC Berkeley and California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their own conclusions tended to the growers point of view. They noted “inherent trade-offs and tension between marijuana cultivation and ecosystem needs,” but also pointed out that new policies could “prevent and mitigate” the current level of damage. 

Earlier this spring, msnbc visited a pot farm in northern California to see a model of sustainable growing, in an industry that suddenly needs one. Casey O’Neill and his brother Nathaniel are third-generation cannabis growers in the famed Emerald Triangle, and co-owners of Happy Day Farms.

Before the drought, the O’Neill brothers invested their life savings in two artificial ponds, which now hold about 2 million gallons of captured rainwater. They also installed solar panels, which power their whole grown, and they continued to rely on only natural fertilizers.

Now they’re trying to spread the good word. They believe that the quickest way to clean up the trade may be to legalize it. That would allow farmers to openly trade best practices, and regulators to easily find those who don’t adopt them, they argue.

“We can be fish-friendly and still produce this incredible economic bounty that comes from the sun through human labor,” said Casey. “It’s the translation of solar dollars into real dollars. And that’s something that we are very honor to participate in.”

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California, Drug Policy, Drugs, Environment, Green and Marijuana

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