April 22, 2014
Meanwhile In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's Attorney General has wisely refused to defend his state's ban on same-sex marriage, so the office of Governor Corbett (a Republican) took on that task. But the defense is no defense. The Governor's office has said they will call no expert witnesses and they will not dispute any of the specific harms caused to the plaintiffs by the marriage ban. Essentially, then, this would seem to be like the Oregon suit - defenseless. But it's got one advantage over Oregon because there is a nominal defendant. The defendant (the Commonwealth) agrees with the plaintiffs that there is no need for a trial so they will not be going through the motions. Both sides are filing requests for summary judgement.
Governor Corbett is to be commended for saving taxpayers' money and minimizing everyone's misery while still staying faithful to what he thinks he has to do as Governor.
Judge John E. Jones III who will be making the decision is a Republican appointed by George W. Bush in 2002. He is a native of Pennsylvania. He ruled in 2005 that a school district's mandate to teach "intelligent design" was unconstitutional. Thereupon, he was attacked by Phyllis Schlafly and Bill O'Reilly; O'Reilly calling him a fascist activist judge. He has defended himself saying that his duty is to the Constitution, not special interests.
OTOH, when he was the Chairman of the state Liquor Control Board he banned the sale of Bad Frog Beer after determining that the frog on the label was giving the finger. Anyone who looks at the label will see that the frog has only 4 toes on both front feet and all 4 toes are extended on both feet. IMO "the finger" was in the mind of the beholder. But even if it was flipping off the drinker, it would seem to be a free speech issue.
January 8, 2014
National Review Tepidly Supports Legalization of Marijuana
National Review Online says "It is perhaps a little dispiriting that of all the abusive overreaches of government to choose from, it is weed that has the nation’s attention, but it is a victory nonetheless." And "One of the worst consequences of marijuana use is the development of saucer-eyed arguments about the benefits of legalizing it."
The payoff is not in tax revenue gained but in losses avoided. A great many people will avoid being convicted of crimes for a relatively benign recreational indulgence — and those criminal convictions often have much more severe long-term consequences on pot-smokers’ lives than marijuana does. The business of policing covert marijuana dealers has been replaced with the relatively straightforward business of regulating them in the open. A large and fairly nasty criminal enterprise has lost its raison d’être, at least so far as the Colorado market is concerned.
January 7, 2014
A Different View On Drug Addicition
Dr. Carl Hart was interviewed by Amy Goodman. Dr. Hart is a tenured "professor in the sciences at Columbia University, where he is an associate professor in the psychology and psychiatry departments. He is also a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and a research scientist in the Division of Substance Abuse at the New York State Psychiatric Institute."
There is a video of this interview but I read and copied from the transcript.
One of his main points is that 80% to 90% of people who use drugs (alcohol, marijuana, crack, meth, all recreational drugs) are NOT addicted.
If we were really concerned about drug addiction, we would be trying to figure out precisely why each individual became addicted. But that's not what we're really interested in. We are interested, in this society, of vilifying a drug. In that way, we don't have to deal with the complex issues for why people really become addicted.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Carl Hart?
DR. CARL HART: On the one hand, I applaud Sanjay. But on the other hand, I might be embarrassed if I was a physician and I'm this late in the game. The evidence has been overwhelming for quite some time. And if you read the literature and have been reading the literature, this position or this change should have come earlier. But still, it takes some courage to say you were wrong. But I think that it's been overstated how much praise he deserves.
And when we think about the dangers of marijuana from a scientific perspective, let's really evaluate this. When we think about the dangers of marijuana, they are about the equivalent of alcohol. Now, I don't want to somehow talk about the dangers of alcohol or to besmirch the reputation of alcohol, because I think that every society should have intoxicants. We need intoxicants. And every society has always had intoxicants. So alcohol is fine.
January 4, 2014
Cannabis Legalization Update
A survey of what's happening with marijuana legalization outside of Colorado and Washington:
- Of course, in California we've got petitions for four different initiatives in process.
- The State of New York legalized medical marijuana in 1980 (that is not a typo), long before California. But then they forgot about it! It was a very limited program. It was only legal for people with cancer or glaucoma. Each patient had to be approved by a medical review board. The marijuana itself would be obtained by the State Police! Well, that might have been the part that made this unworkable. The State Police could simply claim they had none or refuse to provide it, citing federal law. So now the state is considering breathing life into that old dead thing. Bills to make medical marijuana workable have passed in the State Assembly four times, but they have all died in the Senate. So Governor Cuomo is going to announce an executive action that will allow medical marijuana in 20 hospitals for only cancer, glaucoma and other diseases approved by the state Department of Health. It is expected to go into effect in 2014.
- In New Hampshire House Bill 492 would legalize recreational marijuana. It's scheduled for a vote on January 8, 2014. But even if the House approves it, chances of getting past the Senate and Governor are slim. Last year the Senate rejected a bill to decriminalize marijuana.
- In Alaska a petition has garnered 44,000 signatures, 15,000 more than the minimum necessary to submit legalization to the voters. It proposes a $50/ounce tax. Local governments will be permitted to ban retail sales. Here's a copy of the petition. Public consumption would be banned. How is "public" defined in Alaska? If you are in the middle of a vast wilderness where the next nearest human is 500 miles away and you light up outdoors, would that be considered "public?" Would the caribou be alarmed?
- Missourians have been inspired to submit 10 petitions to the Secretary of State for approval. They are all basically the same, varying only in permitted quantities. After the Secretary of State approves them, NORML will do public polling to find out which one is likely to have the greatest public support. Aside from petitions, the legislature is expected to have 5 or 6 legalization bills to consider this session.
- One legislator in New Mexico says he will submit legislation for a constitutional amendment. The Governor of New Mexico opposes legalization, but the constitutional amendment process bypasses the Governor.
- Campaigners in Florida have obtained 900,000 signatures on a petition to legalize medical marijuana via constitutional amendment. Their goal is to have 1,050,000 signatures. The number of valid signatures required is 683,149. Here's a blank petition. Medical marijuana would be permitted for cancer, glaucoma, HIV positive status, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis "or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient." The text is only two pages long, lacking much of the detail you see in proposals in other states. It mostly just gives an order to "make it so" to the Department of Health.
- The Alabama Legislature will be considering a bill "to allow parents of children with certain neurological and epileptic disorders to possess cannabidiol." Cannabidiol has also been shown to be the substance in marijuana that helps with glaucoma.
- Meanwhile in Maine, the first state to impose alcohol prohibition (in 1851), the Women's Christian Temperance Union is trying to bring itself back from the grave like a zombie in order to oppose legalization of marijuana. "It's not that we want to be self-righteous and condemn you because you're drinking or drugging or you're smoking pot. It's not that. We want to love you but tell you that there are ill effects," said Rev. David Perkins. Yeah, we know how that goes when a Christian leader tells you he loves you, but just has a few points to discuss with you. The WCTU also opposes gambling, pornography, abortion, gay marriage and sex outside of marriage.
December 14, 2013
Nudes Restored At San Bernardino County Government Center
For five years the Hispanic Employees Alliance of San Bernardino County has hosted an art display at the San Bernardino County Government Center in observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month. This year the exhibit included a few nudes. The county removed those from the exhibit on November 26. A first amendment issue was raised by the ACLU and the National Coalition Against Censorship. The county settled yesterday, agreeing to put the nudes back on display and extend the exhibit until January 17. Originally it was to end on December 2.
It sounds like if the county had rules set up ahead of time as to what could not be displayed then that would have worked, but removing a work from display constituted censorship.
I think that as long as Desert Hot Springs has Dot Reed curating the exhibits at the Carl May Center we will be able to steer clear of any interference from the ACLU.
Barbara Branden Dead At Age 84
August 4, 2013
At the DUI checkpoint set up last night on Monterey south of Country Club, 527 of 528 drivers screened were sober enough to drive - that's better than 99.8%. Nine drivers were arrested for suspended license, no license, or outstanding warrants.
July 1, 2013
Riverside Mayor Bailey Demonstrates His Inability To Influence People
Letitia Pepper was removed from a Riverside City Council meeting (upon direction from the Mayor) and arrested by police for clapping after public comments with which she agreed. Jay-zus. That's the best use of their police authority?!
What I have observed at Desert Hot Springs regular city council meetings is that at first people generally don't clap for public comments. But eventually someone will make some politically neutral, but positive comment about the city - maybe something about a volunteer or charity opportunity - and that will generate wide applause. After that, just about every comment will get applause. Sometimes, there's a political comment that will get a small amount of applause from its supporters. I can't see what's wrong with this. People interested in the city show up with opinions and are willing to have their opinions known. There are far, far worse things that could happen; like nobody showing up, nobody having an opinion, or people afraid to express their opinions.
This is the second arrest of a citizen during public comments at a Riverside City Council meeting. There's got to be a money-hungry attorney who sees this opportunity as clearly as I do.
June 18, 2013
Report On Federal Anti-Medical Marijuana Efforts
Americans For Safe Access runs the numbers and includes patient's stories in this 56-page PDF (6.7 MB). Highlights of the highlights: 34% of the American population lives in a state with legal medical marijuana. There are a million medical marijuana
users patients in the U.S. Over the last 17 years there have been 528 federal raids on medical marijuana; 270 (a little more than half) have taken place under the Obama administration. The Bush administration spent $200 million "on enforcement efforts in medical marijuana states." Notice that this careful phrasing does not say that the $200 million was all used against medical marijuana. The Obama administration has spent $300 million "on enforcement efforts in medical marijuana states." That's 4% of DEA's budget.
June 12, 2013
Google's Response To The NSA Story
First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a "back door" to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.
Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don't follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users' data are false, period. Until this week's reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users' call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users' Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.
Yesterday they published another post that is a copy of a letter to Attorney General Holder asking him and FBI Director Mueller to "help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures."
On this page Google publishes aggregate data on the number of requests they receive from governments and courts for user data. Here is the data for only American requests. In 2012 they began to break them out by source of request: search warrant, subpoena and "other." Subpoenas make up the great majority of requests. "Other" is the smallest. These data reports cannot show even aggregate numbers of requests that Google is not allowed to make public at all, so there's some invisible dark matter there that we have no way of measuring.