VA GOP Bill Would Gut Marijuana Social Equity Funding, Mexico Murders May Have Peaked, More... (1/24/22)
North Dakota marijuana initaitive campaigners will have to go back to the drawing board, social equity funding is on the chopping block in Virginia'a GOP marijuana implementation bill, and more.
[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy
North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative Campaign Comes Up Short on Signatures. Activists behind an effort to put a marijuana legalization ballot measure before the voters in November have failed to come up with enough signatures to do so. The deadline for handing signatures for the campaign was Saturday, and the group had only gathered 19,500 raw signatures by then. They needed 31,164 valid voter signatures to qualify. The activists said they are already looking ahead to medical marijuana access and marijuana legalization initiative campaigns for 2024. The legislature took up marijuana legalization last year, but that bill was killed in the state Senate.
Virginia Republican Files Legal Marijuana Implementation Bill that Cuts Taxes, Reduces Social Equity Funding. Delegate Michael Webert (R-Fauquier) has filed legislation to implement marijuana legalization approved by last year's Democratic state legislature, but that legislation makes some changes to what the Democrats envisioned. The bill, House Bill 950, would cut the tax on retail sales from 21 percent to 10 percent in what Webert said is a bid to undercut the black market. It would also eliminate the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, which would have allocated 35 percent of tax revenues to providing scholarships, community programs and business loans to people and communities "historically and disproportionately targeted and affected by drug enforcement." Instead, those funds would now go to repairing or replacing school roofs. The bill also eliminates preferences for people with past marijuana convictions but would allow priority access for people who live in communities with higher than average enforcement, as well as people who are economically disadvantaged or who attended a historically black college or university in the state.
South Carolina Medical Marijuana to (Finally) Be Debated. Senator Tom Davis's (R-Beaufort) Senate Bill 150, the South Carolina Compassionate Use Act, will finally be debated on the Senate floor this week. Davis has been trying for seven years to get to this point. Befitting the conservative state, Davis's bill is also conservative. It bars the use of smokable marijuana, requires an in-patient doctor's visit and a written treatment plan, and limits the conditions that can be treated to a specified list including cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma. sickle cell anemia and autism. Davis says he thinks he has enough votes to pass the bill in the Senate and send it to the House, but House leaders have not indicated whether they would take it up before the session ends.
Mexico Killings Declined Slightly Last Year. The country's annual death count, driven largely by drug prohibition-related violence, was down for the second year in a row, official figures indicated. Homicides hit an al-time high of 34,690 in 2019 before dropping to 34,544 in 2020 and dropping again to 33,308 last year. More than 340,000 people have been killed since the government of then-President Felipe Calderon deployed the military in a bid to stem rising levels of violence—only to see the number of killings rise year after year for more than a decade. Current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador created a new security force, the National Guard, to deal with high levels of violence, but the decline in killings is more likely related to social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National Citizen Observatory, a civil society group.
Two best friends in England have spoken of their life-long friendship for age 11 to 89, that has taken them from the same school to the same nursing home.
Kathleen Saville and Olive Woodward have just celebrated 78 years of friendship and hope for many more years to come. While they went to the same school, both also lived in the same town all their lives and both married coalminers.
Olive told the BBC:
"If I'm unhappy or in trouble I only have to go to Kathleen and we'll always end up laughing."
The pair put their friendship down to never fighting and accepting differences of opinion. Kathleen says:
"We knew we would always be best friends when we met. She means a lot to me."
She jokingly added, referring to the years ahead of them:
"If Olive goes first, she'll come back to fetch me. We're going to be best friends in heaven. We don't cause any trouble in the home, but we sometimes have to knock the staff into shape."
The pair are said to be great fun around the care-home and are now referred to by staff as the 'dynamic duo'.
In giving advice to people who are perhaps lonely or in need of friendship, the pair advised:
"Put yourself out and go see your friend. Don't always wait for them to come and see you. And in the wise words of the Berry Hill Park care home's dynamic duo: 'It takes two to tango.'"
Many care homes are now getting back to normal after the Covid pandemic, during which time visiting was seriously restricted, and many residents went months without seeing friends or relatives. In many cases, staff were required to live at the facility to minimise the chance of the disease being brought into the home.
[Based on reporting by: Positive Outlooks]
A hospital in Brazil has revealed a heart-warming tale in which a homeless man's dog waited for him while he underwent surgery for a chronic illness.
It was a nurse, Cris Mamprim, working at the Regional Alto Vale hospital in Santa Carina, Brazil who broke the story online.
She said the homeless man was undergoing surgery, yet his small dog waited patiently the whole time at the entrance of the hospital.
In a Facebook post, the nurse said:
"With so many people out there, I came across this scene today. At the hospital in which I work, at 3 am, while its owner (Street Dweller) was being attended, his companions waited at the door. A simple person, without luxury, who depends on help to overcome the hunger, the cold, the pain, the evils of the world, has by his side the best companions, and the exchange is reciprocal. Exchange of love, affection, warmth, understanding. I don't know what his life is like, because he's on the street, and I don't even want to know and judge him, but I admire the respect and love he has for Seeing them like this, waiting on the door, just shows how much they are well care and loved. Oh if everyone was like this…."
The homeless man, known only as Cesar, recovered from the operation and was reunited with his four-legged friend, who appears well fed and cared for.
It was said that as Cesar received his last meal at the hospital, he even shared some with the dog.
Brazil has a huge issue surrounding poverty and homelessness with the situation being made worse by regressive social policies under Jair Bolsonaro and the Covid pandemic.
The Borgen project says of homelessness in Brazil:
"Approximately 1.2 million Brazilians are either homeless or living in inadequate housing. This housing crisis was, in part, caused by rising land costs. Brazil's industrialization and involvement in globalization raised land prices. As a result, poor and unemployed Brazilians are unable to afford land costs and are forced to remain in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions."
Brazil's homeless tend to live near major cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The country's increasing urbanization contributes to these cities' housing deficits, with more than four in five Brazilians living in urban areas. The vast majority of those in need of housing are from low-income families. Recent wage cuts and unemployment rates passing 12% have ensured that 1.2 million Rio residents remain in "favelas," Brazil's shantytowns."
[Based on reporting by: Positive Outlooks]
A shelter dog who refused to even look at people has made a remarkable transformation and is now living a happy and healthy new life.
Clementine was found by animal control in southern California and weighed only 45 lbs, many believed she would not actually live to make a recovery. However, Chelsea Elizabeth Cossairt came across Clementine's photo on the shelter's website and thought she could help.
It was explained to Chelsea that Clementine would be a difficult dog to look after given her psychological issues, but this did not deter her.
"The shelter told us that of the hundreds of applications they'd received for dogs in the previous few weeks, not one had been for Clementine. Clementine was absolutely terrified of people and wouldn't look anyone in the eyes. She shook all the time, hid behind furniture and sat facing the wall for months."
Despite her fears Clementine instantly got on well with Elizabeth's other dogs and this began to break down her issues. Little by little the dog got better, stopped shaking and started being relaxed around humans.
"She loves to look deeply into our eyes while we pet her, and she's very attentive when we're talking to her. She's still wary of new people and sometimes even gets spooked by us if we move too quickly or come up behind her, but she's come so far."
"She lays at our feet when we work from home and loves belly rubs after finally exposing her belly to us for pets last month. "She' boops' everything in sight — we think it's her way of exploring and figuring out what things are. She's so puppy-like that sometimes we wonder if she got to be a puppy at all. She'll nudge your hand if you're not petting her or if you stop and she's not done yet. She's so sweet and such a gentle girl. We could tell very early on that she just wants to love and be loved in return. She's loyal and protective of us, and she follows us around everywhere."
[Based on reporting by: Positive Outlooks]
A US American high-school football team in the town of Bethel, Pennsylvania, put their skills to good use this week, helping shovel snow and clear driveways and roads for local residents.
The football team of 16 and 17-year-olds were due to have weightlifting practice, but it was cancelled as a result of a huge snowdrift and icy temperatures. So, the school's head football coach, Brian DeLallo, decided to was time to show residents what the team was made of.
The coach said in a tweet:
"Due to expected severe weather, Monday's weightlifting workout has been canceled. Find an elderly or disabled neighbor and shovel their driveway. Don't accept any money – that's our Monday workout."
The team then spent much of the day helping the community and the vulnerable, shovelling for 100 homes in total.
In an interview with Fox News DeLallo said that the team have been doing this sort of activity for over 20 years, first started by former coach Jeff Metheny, but it had just never received media attention before. He said:
"Jeff had always had our kids do this. Any time we had a snow day and school was cancelled, he had the kids go out and shovel driveways for people in the community who were elderly or who were disabled or otherwise could not shovel their own driveways. So this is something we've been doing for a long time. Definitely not my idea. I learned it from Jeff and we've just carried on this tradition."
One team member said:
"It was a fun way to spend the day. We just kept going until we'd done six houses. We even skipped out on having lunch. It made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself."
A resident added:
"I have lived in Bethel Park for more than 40 years now. And acts of kindness like this are exactly why I have stayed for as long as I have, and why I will never leave. These young men have no idea how much something like this means to me and it makes me so proud to live here."
[Based on reporting by: Positive Outlooks]
An OnlyFans star has reported that she has two vaginas and that she uses one for professional purposes and the other for personal sex.
Evelyn Miller, only found out about her condition when she was 20 years old. She has two vaginas and two wombs.
The 31-year-old from Queensland, Australia, began her profession as a sex worker following the breakdown of her relationship and decided to use only one of her two vaginas for work.
"I worked as an independent escort for about seven years travelling around the world. I was able to use one vagina for work and one vagina for my personal life, which made the work a lot easier emotionally and physically for me."
Evelyn soon joined adult content service, OnlyFans, and now earns $75,000 USD per month.
Evelyn says that while having two vaginas has contributed to her popularity, it also has some drawbacks. One of them being having to use two tampons when on her period, the other being having to get both her vaginas tested for STDs.
Speaking about child-rearing, Evelyn said:
"Theoretically, I could carry two babies at once if I wanted - but it would be hard for my body, so we have had to be careful in that sense. Sex in each vagina feels very, very different I prefer one side but it depends on the position and shape of the guy as to which one I choose to have sex in. Having two vaginas has made my sex life a lot of fun - we can have sex in one side and use a toy in another, and there are all sorts of positions and things I can try. They both feel very different to me so I've been finding out what I like and don't like on each side."
"I don't wish that I only had one vagina. Having two has made my sex life more fun, and I think it's important to embrace all bodies - we can all be so different."
Having her reproductive system split means that carrying a child could be extremely risky since each of her reproductive organs are half the size of an average woman.
In 2020, Evelyn realised that she was pregnant and had to give birth via a C-section since giving birth vaginally was challenging.
"The C-section experience wasn't as magical as I thought. I'm thankful that I had a great procedure and nothing went wrong, but I didn't love the feeling of pulling. Recovery was great and easy for me though. It was also nice having the tough decisions taken away from me in a sense, because I had to have a C-section. I didn't have to make choices for my birth experience like whether I wanted to avoid intervention or not. I had my baby at 37 weeks in June 2021 - a healthy little boy, though he weighed 5.5-pounds because he was growth restricted in my small uterus."
Evelyn is now pregnant with her second child and is expected to give birth via a C-section in 36 weeks.
[Based on reporting by: LADBIBLE]
A 23-year-old woman in Denver has saved three children from drowning in frozen pond after seeing them from her apartment in Arapahoe County.
Dusti Talavera, was looking out from her window when she noticed a group of kids playing on a frozen pond. The pond's icy surface cracked and the kids were soon in the freezing water fighting to survive. Dusti rushed to rescue them and she found herself in the middle of the pond trying to pull them out.
Straight after watching the incident, Dusti threw her shoes and swam towards the children in the 15-foot-deep pond.
She first successfully pulled out a 4-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy before diving to rescue a 6-year-old girl.
"Nobody was really outside, I just knew it was me that had to do it."
A 16-year-old relative of the youngest girl was thankfully around and also rushed to the children's rescue. It has been reported that he had to throw a rope to pull them out while Dusti was staying underwater for over two minutes.
"I'm thankful for that young man who threw the rope. I would have been in there longer, she would have been in there longer. I don't know what would have happened."
After being pulled out of the water, the girl had no pulse and wasn't breathing. When Deputy David Rodriguez arrived at the scene, he removed the girl's coat and performed CPR until she regained her breathing.
"We reverted back to what we were trained to do. We're all fathers and we all have young kids. It's hard to see a 6-year-old girl whose face is blue with her eyes open and not responding, not breathing."
Soon after, the girl was taken to the hospital where her condition was 'stable' but then had to be admitted to the intensive care unit at the Denver Health Medical Center. The sheriff's office reported that the girl's condition is 'serious' but she is expected to survive.
Luckily, the other two kids were well enough to be sent home.
Cory Sudden of the South Metro Fire Rescue, said during a conference:
"I have four boys. What she did was amazing. We were back at the fire station talking about how brave she was … and, gosh, I hope if this happened to one of [my boys], that somebody like her was close by."
Dusti reported to the police that she "wasn't concerned for her safety because they were babies and they needed help."
Deputy Blaine Moulton said:
"The fact that we had her witness these kids fall in there and her quick reaction … in putting her life at risk for the kids to make sure that they could make it another day is amazing."
[Based on reporting by: Positive Outlooks]
DEA Proposes Scheduling Five Tryptamines, RI Governor to Push for Marijuana Legalization, More... (1/21/22)
Legislators in a pair of red states attempt to deal with mounting pressure for medical marijuana, a Washington state bill moves to end employment-related marijuana testing, and more.
[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy
Rhode Island Governor Renews Push for Marijuana Legalization. Gov. Dan McKee (D) has included marijuana legalization in his Fiscal Year 2023 budget, calling for the "phased-in introduction of retail licenses." The state Senate overwhelmingly approved marijuana legalization in the last session, but the legislature adjourned with no vote in the House. Lawmakers are reportedly working on a compromise between the Senate bill, which envisioned up to 150 retail outlets, and the governor's initial plan, which called for only 25 retail licenses. Both the Senate bill and the governor's plan include social equity provisions.
Washington State Bill Would End Employment Drug Tests for Marijuana. State Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) has sponsored Senate Bill 5517, which would amend the state's employment drug testing law to exclude marijuana -- with a couple of notable exceptions. One exception would allow employers to continue to screen for marijuana if they create "drug-free workplace" written policies, including employee education and supervisor training. The other exception would be for federal employees, because marijuana remains federally illegal.
Idaho Bill Would Allow Use of Spray Derived from Marijuana. A pair of Republican legislators have filed a bill, House Bill 446, that would allow people suffering from multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders to have access to a pain relief spray derived from marijuana. The spray, Nabiximols, is manufactured by GW Pharma and is currently undergoing clinical trials for possible approval by the Food & Drug Administration. It contains a mix of CBD and THC, and would be the second such drug. The legislation was introduced in the House Health and Welfare Committee on a voice vote and can now come back to the committee for a public hearing.
Idaho has been one of the most recalcitrant states when it comes to marijuana law reform. Last year, a medical marijuana bill in the House didn't even receive a hearing, while the Senate approved a constitutional amendment that would give the legislature -- not voters in an initiative -- sole authority to legalize marijuana or any other drugs.
Nebraska Restrictive Medical Marijuana Bill Filed in Bid to Blunt Initiative Campaign. Conservative state Sen. Mike Groene (R-North Platte) has filed a bill, LB 1275, that would allow patients with stage IV cancers, uncontrollable seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy, or a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than one year to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in the form of an oil or pill. Patients under 19 would need written certification from three different practitioners.
Groene was open that his bill is an effort to blunt an ongoing medical marijuana initiative campaign. "I don't want it to pass," he said. "I want the elected officials in charge of the future of this, to define it and change it over time if necessary, to have the medical people in (the Department of Health and Human Services) write the bills."
DEA Proposes Labeling Five Psychedelic Tryptamines as Schedule I Controlled Substances. The DEA announced last Friday that it intends to criminalize five tryptamines as Schedule I controlled substances. The five are: 4-Hydroxy-N,N-diisopropyltryptamine (4-OH-DiPT), 5-Methoxy-alphamethyltryptamine (5-MeO-AMT), N-Isopropyl-5-Methoxy-N-Methyltryptamine (5-MeO-MiPT), N,N-Diethyl-5-methoxytryptamine (5-MeO-DET), and N,N-Diisopropyltryptamine (DiPT).
The agency has been monitoring the substances as drugs of concern for more than two decades, sent data on them to the Department of Health and Human Services in 2008 and received medical and scientific reports on them from DHS in 2012. Last year, the agency noted that, "These five tryptamines have no known medical use in the United States and are not marketed internationally as approved drug products. They have all been reported as drugs of abuse in the US by law enforcement authorities and identified in seizures."
It's not a done deal yet, though. Anyone can visit the Federal Register to comment on the proposal until February 14. Some psychedelic sciences companies have already registered their objections.
New Hampshire Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Bill Filed. A bipartisan group of legislators have filed House Bill 1349-FN, which would decriminalize the possession of psilocybin mushrooms. The bill would decriminalize the possession of up to 12 grams of 'shrooms, enough for several psychedelic experiences.
Michelle and Steven Burt, a couple from Florida, Massaschusetts, decided to take a flight on a JetBlue plane along with their three dogs. The couple had to follow the airline's protocol and place their dogs in carriers under their seats. However, soon after takeoff, they noticed that Darcy, their French bulldog, had developed breathing difficulties.
Michelle soon diced to open Darcy's carrier, against the flight's protocol, in order to check on her. It turned out that Darcy's life was in danger.
"I noticed that her tongue was blue, and I am aware that is a sign of insufficient oxygen. I pulled her out from under the seat and placed her on my lap to cool down and help her relax as she was panicking and breathing frantically."
Following the company's protocol, one of the flight attendants, Renaud Fenster, asked Michelle to put the dog back in its carrier and under her seat. But he soon realised the seriousness of the situation and decided to alert his colleague, Diane Asher.
The two flight attendants then unsuccessfully tried to cool Darcy down by using ice bags. Renaud then, a French bulldog owner himself, decided to defy the protocol in an attempt to save Darcy's life.
"He [Renaud] brought a small oxygen tank with a mask attached and offered it saying, 'Maybe this will help'. I believe Renaud and Diane saved a life, some may reduce the value of life because Darcy is a canine — I do not."
Although they placed their jobs at risk by violating the airline's protocol, the two attendants manage to save the dog's life. Thankfully, soon after the flight landed, Darcy was fully well. Michelle then decided to thank the attendants for helping save Darcy's life.
"I wanted to say thank you JetBlue and thank you to Renaud and Diane for doing their job and also being great humans!"
It turns out that upon the news of the incident circulated, the company was very satisfied with the praise it received.
They wrote in a statement:
"Our mission is to inspire humanity, and we're very proud of those outstanding crew members who consistently demonstrate a passion for excellent customer service."
[Based on reporting by: Majestic Animals]
A pair of twins, Chester and Otis, were born prematurely at 28 weeks. Although Otis was in fairly healthy condition weighing 3lb 7oz at birth, his twin brother only weighed 1lb 1oz.
When Otis was discharged from the hospital six weeks later, weighing 6lb 3oz, Chester was still having a difficult time and his weight was still at a critical level. However, 32-year-old Kelly Graves and 35-year-old Bill, the twins' parents, thought that the bond between the two siblings is strong enough to help Chester survive.
Kelly told the Daily Mail:
"I have no doubt that cuddles with his twin has helped him keep fighting."
"The twins finally met for the first time since being born on September 22, which was incredibly emotional. It was everything I was waiting for, and although Otis was asleep, Chester was obsessed with him and couldn't take his eyes away from his brother."
"We are so lucky that Chester is a fighter and despite everything he has been through, he is still fighting in order to come home and be with his parents, Otis, and the rest of the family. He is still being incubated and kept on high flow oxygen since being transferred back to our local hospital in Southend. We cannot wait to finally get Chester home. We are hoping to bring him back in November."
The cause of the twins' difference in size was a condition called, Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction, which did not allow them to receive sufficient nutrients from the mother's placenta. Kelly recalls of being admitted to Kings College Hospital in London for a laser surgical treatment:
"They informed us that there was absent flow of nutrients to Chester was the reason why he wasn't really growing. 'I had to have endoscopic laser surgery whereby they enter the womb through the side of your body in order to reach the placenta kill of the blood vessels connecting the two babies. The surgery was performed to separate the babies in the womb so that if Chester hadn't survived it would have protected Otis from dying or being left with lasting brain damage."
After the operation, Otis started growing at a rate of about 100g per week, but his brother's growth was still limited, at 25g a week.
"I went away and was eating around 200g of protein per day to help him grow and was drinking around five litres of water to try and get Chester's water levels up because they were also low. This was not in any way proven to help, but I tried everything I could to replenish his levels and keep him fighting."
During her 28th week of pregnancy, Chester's condition stabilized. But soon after Kelly's waters broke, and she was admitted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. She said:
"At this point, Chester was 485 grams which was close to being deemed viable, but we were told his heart rate kept dipping and that the chances of survival from the cesarean would be low. We just had to hope that he would keep fighting."
Following Kelly's C-section, Chester was incubated.
"When Chester came out, they found a knot in his cord which also halted his growth, and the consultant was desperate to get him incubated as soon as possible to help him survive… He also had a hole in his heart which was discovered afterwards which has now thankfully closed and also eye surgery."
In order to check up on their newborns, Kelly and Billy had to commute every day from Addenbrooke Hospital to Southend. They also had to arrange for daycare for their other children, 10-year-old Phoebe, 8-year-old Florence and 5-year-old Albert.
"People kept asking how we did it, but we had no choice, we went into survival mode and just kept going. The worst thing was that this was all happening over the school holidays, so we were barely able to spend any time with the kids who had to stay with other family members. The kids have been incredible, they are so young but are just as desperate to get Chester home as they haven't been able to even really meet him yet due to covid."
"We have Otis at home now and everyone says how nice it must be, but it's also horrible because we can't feel complete until both babies are back together."
"[Chester] has to gain a further 255 grams still and will most likely be on low flow oxygen when he's home, but we are hoping in around a month or two he can finally meet the rest of the family."
[Based on reporting by: I heart Intelligence]
A marijuana services company has filed a federal lawsuit over massive cash seizures by cops in California and Kansas, the Colombian Constitutional Court puts the kibosh on spraying coca crops with herbicide, and more.
[image:1 align:left caption:true]Medical Marijuana
Mississippi House Amends Medical Marijuana Bill to Lower Possession Limits, Then Passes It. The House on Wednesday approved the Senate's medical marijuana bill, Senate Bill 2095, but only after amending it to lower the amount of marijuana flower patients can possess each month from 3.5 ounces to 3 ounces. The Senate had previously lowered the limit from 4 ounces to 3.5 in a bid to soothe the concerns of Governor Tate Reeves (R), who has expressed worry that the bill allowed patients too much marijuana. The bill now goes back to the Senate. If the Senate rejects the House's amended limit, the bill would then go to conference committee to hash out the differences.
Marijuana Services Company Sues Cops in California and Kansas Over Seizures of $1.2 Million in Cash. Empyreal Logistics, a company that uses armored cars to transport cash to and from marijuana businesses, has had its vehicles stopped and cash seized on five separate occasions since last May by sheriff's deputies in Kansas and California. The stops resulted in no citations or criminal charges, but the deputies seized $1.2 million in cash under state civil forfeiture law.
Now, with the help of the Institute for Justice, Empyreal has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that the seizures violate state law, federal law, and the US Constitution. In a complaint it filed last Friday in the US District Court for the Central District of California, Empyreal says it is "entitled to protection from highway robberies, regardless of whether they are conducted by criminals or by the Sheriff and federal law-enforcement agencies acting under color of law."
In both California and Kansas, local sheriffs handed the seizures over to the DEA in a bid to circumvent state laws limiting seizures and who profits from them. The lawsuit charges that the DEA's involvement violates the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, a spending rider that bars the Justice Department (which includes the DEA and the FBI) from using any of its funds to interfere with the implementation of state laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana. Because the DEA violated that restriction, the company says, it also violated the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. And because the seizure was motivated by the prospect of financial gain, the lawsuit says, it violated the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process.
Arizona Bill Would End Restriction on Food Stamp Benefits to Drug Felons. A bill that would remove requirements that people with past felony drug convictions agree to random drug testing and to taking part in a drug treatment program in order to access the Supplemental Nutritional Program (SNAP) has passed its first hurdle. Sponsored by Rep. Walter Blackman (R-Snowflake), the measure, House Bill 2060, was approved unanimously on Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee. It now heads for a House floor vote.
Missouri Drug Decriminalization Bill Filed. State Rep. Peter Merideth (D) has filed a bill to decriminalize a range of drugs including marijuana, psilocybin, LSD, MDMA and cocaine. The measure, House Bill 2469, would make low-level drug possession an infraction punishable by a maximum $100 fine or participation in a drug treatment program if ordered by a court. The bill would decriminalize up to 10 grams of cannabis, one gram of heroin, one gram of MDMA, two grams of methamphetamine, 40 units of LSD, 12 grams of psilocybin, 40 units of methadone, 40 oxycodone pills and two grams of cocaine. The bill also lowers charges for possessing some quantities greater than personal use from felonies to misdemeanors. It currently has no hearing scheduled.
Colombia High Court Blocks Government Plan to Spray Coca Crops with Toxic Herbicide. The country's Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that the administration of conservative President Iván Duque cannot spray the herbicide glyphosate on coca crops without the consent of rural communities. That effectively blocks the proposed renewal of spraying. The ruling came after rural black and indigenous communities sued to block the plan, saying the herbicide causes disease, destroys traditional crops and pollutes the water.
The court imposed a one-year deadline for agreement to be reached to allow spraying, effectively blocking the Duque administration, which leaves office in August, from moving forward before then. Spraying the coca crop with glyphosates was done in the past but blocked by the Constitutional Court in 2015. President Duque has spent the four years of his administration trying to get it going again.
A dentistry student in Syria has spoken about how he was raised by a father with Down's Syndrome and why society should not judge the parenting abilities of people with different needs and conditions.
Sader Issa, who is a dentistry student in Syria, spoke to the Syrian Society for Social Development, in a heart-warming video, in which he says he had a normal childhood and was continually supported despite his father's own difficulties.
He says in the video:
"I'm proud of my father. Throughout my life he has been the greatest support for me when I needed it. It's possible to see when his eyes are filled with joy and satisfaction as if to express: yes, I have Down syndrome, but I raised this man and did everything in my power to make him become a doctor and help others."
"We wish all people were able to accept that being different is not something to be ashamed of. People with Down Syndrome are different but they have feelings, aspirations, a mind of their own, and they are capable of living a normal life when there is social acceptance and a society that is supportive."
It is fairly uncommon for people with Down's syndrome to have children as many are infertile, however, it is not impossible and Sader has several brothers. Many people with the condition have cognitive and learning difficulties but this is not necessarily passed on to any children they do have. While life expectancy was previously in the 20s for people with the condition, this has now risen to over 60. Many are now living full lives, gaining an education and employment.
The number of people with Down's Syndrome in Western countries has fallen dramatically in the last few decades with a prenatal test being available to screen for the disease, and many of the children being terminated before birth.
The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) states:
"People with Down Syndrome are more alike their typical peers than they are different. They take longer to reach milestones when they are young, but they reach them! They have feelings and emotions and they want to be treated with respect. People with DS are living great lives!"
Based on reporting by: Positive Outlooks]
A grocery store established and based inside a school in Texas is completely unique in that instead of cash it accepts 'good deeds' as payment.
Linda Tutt High School in Sanger, Texas, is situated in an area of the country where 43% of the 2,750 students enrolled in the school district are classed as 'economically disadvantaged'. It is therefore hoped that the new payment mechanism will alleviate some of the issues facing the students and their families.
Students earn points, which can be exchanged for groceries, by getting good grades, carrying out good deeds, and completing work around campus.
School principal, Anthony Love, said of the set-up:
"A lot of our students, they come from low socioeconomic families. It's a way for students to earn the ability to shop for their families. Through hard work you can earn points for positive office referrals. You can earn points for doing chores around the building or helping to clean."
"We are a small school district but we always try to teach our kids the importance of giving back to the community. Now school districts all around Texas and the rest of the country are asking how they can start a program like ours, and it's really exciting for us to know our little town is spreading good."
It was the First Refuge Ministries, Albertsons, and Texas Health Resources that first put the idea forward to the school district as a means to help struggling students. They hope that not only will the project help students and their families materially but that it will also help students gain a strong work ethic that will equip them well for their later adult lives.
Preston Westbrook, a junior at the high school, told CNN:
"I love this school, I help out in everything we do. And I'm a helper, it's just what I do. I'm here to make sure students get what they need. The store helped bring families' spirits up during the pandemic, especially for people who lost family members. The students who come in are just so happy, they always have a smile on their face."
While support for the project has been strong, others have questioned why in one of the richest countries in the world, students are being forced to work in order to put food on the family table, and why their parents are not paid enough, or given employment opportunities in the first place.
[Based on reporting by: Positive Outlooks]
The city of New York is about to embark on a new program aimed at reducing the toll of drug overdoses in the city: naloxone vending machines. Naloxone is an opioid overdose reversal drug that has saved tens of thousands of lives, and the city wants it to be conveniently and easily available.
[image:1 align:left caption:true]In December 2020, the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Fund for Public Health published a request for proposals (RFP) to install ten vending machines dispensing naloxone, as well as other wellness goods, such as safe sex items and toiletries, for its Public Health Vending Machine Initiative.
"The purpose of this RFP is to support low-barrier access to overdose prevention and harm reduction supplies," the department said.
Bids are due later this week, with a contract start-up date of February 7. The program will run through June at a cost of $730,000. The machines will be installed in all five boroughs of the city in neighborhoods most impacted by drug overdoses.
The priority neighborhoods mentioned in the RFP are scattered throughout the city's five boroughs and include East New York, Crotona-Tremont, Highbridge-Morrisania, Hunts Point-Mott Haven, Fordham- Bronx Park, Pelham-Throgs Neck, Central Harlem, East Harlem Union Square, Rockaway, Stapleton-St. George, and South Beach-Tottenville.
"Overdose deaths in New York City are not equally distributed citywide, with some groups and neighborhoods disproportionately experiencing increases in the rate of overdose death," the department explained in the RFP. "During the previous three years, overdose rates among White New Yorkers decreased; however, rates increased among Black New Yorkers during the past year and rates among Latinx New Yorkers have increased for five consecutive years. Structural racism in drug policy and enforcement has been linked to decreased access to services, poorer health outcomes, and increased overdose risk."
The department reported that opioid overdose deaths had reached "epidemic levels" by 2019, with 1,463 unintentional overdose deaths in the city. More than four out five of those overdose deaths involved opioids, with the fast-acting synthetic opioid fentanyl involved in more than two thirds of them.
The city's move is earning kudos from the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which says it supports the plan.
"This approach is consistent with harm reduction strategies that seek to meet people who use drugs where they're at and ensure that people have access to safe resources to prevent blood-borne illness and distributing naloxone to people who are the most likely to encounter an overdose and be able to save lives," said DPA director for civil systems reform Melissa Moore in an email with the Chronicle. "The free vending machines mean that people will be able to access these supplies on their schedule and on their timeline, and without the stigma or shame."
[image:2 align:right]Moore noted that the city made the groundbreaking move of opening the nation's first officially sanctioned safe injection sites in December, but said there was still more to be done, especially around creating a safe drug supply.
"At this time there is a huge issue around poisoning and contamination in the drug supply (and significant disruption of the supply chain), so there is a need for more robust drug checking, especially for the amount of fentanyl in a substance, to save lives," she said. "This would include making sure that people who use drugs have access to this equipment at harm reduction programs. There can and should also be movement on safe supply options, as a way to further deal with the contamination and poisoning."
But's that is not all, she said.
"Additionally, if we want to save lives, reduce criminalization, and curb racial disparities, we need comprehensive, innovative, and forward-thinking approaches like decriminalizing personal possession of drugs. This would build on Measure 110, which was passed by two-thirds of voters in Oregon and codify proven public health approaches over criminalization and other failed enforcement tactics of the past."
New York City's naloxone vending machine program is a widely noted harm reduction innovation, but it is not the first in the country. That distinction may go to Las Vegas, which had naloxone vending machines in 2019. And last year, the city of Cincinnati rolled them out in March and the state of Indiana deployed 19 of them in December.
The overdose crisis requires innovation, and getting the opioid overdose reversal drug into the hands of people who could use it is a good example of that. It won't solve the problem -- that will require much more radical shifts in public policy -- but it will reduce the harm.
An NYPD sergeant made a bad choice of a boyfriend, a Houston constable made a bad choice to escort what he thought was a load of dope, and more. Let's get to it:
[image:1 align:right]In Houston, a former deputy constable pleaded guilty January 6 to escorting a tractor-trailer he thought was filled with drugs with his marked constable vehicle. Alexander Reyes, 49, got $6,000 for the escort job, but it was actually an undercover sting with fake cocaine. He copped to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. He is looking at up to life in prison when sentenced in March.
In New York City, a former NYPD sergeant was sentenced last Thursday to probation for being a courier for a heroin operation run by the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. Arlicia Robinson, 41, got a lenient sentence of four years' supervised release after she was busted in a reverse sting operation when the sentencing judge said she had turned her life around. She was a girlfriend of one of the gang members.
In San Diego, a former state prison guard was sentenced last Thursday to three years in prison for smuggling drug and cellphones into the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. Anibal Navarro, 43, had pleaded guilty to federal bribery and conspiracy charges and admitted to smuggling phones, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and other contraband into the prison. He went down after the inmate who recruited to deliver drugs in return for cash was busted and named him. He admitted to smuggling more than 500 grams of drugs into the prison and was paid between $1,000 and $2,000 per delivery.