Category Archives: links

Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical cannabis

now all we’ve got to do is convince the media that it’s really called “cannabis”…

—–

Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical cannabis
By Evan Halper at The LA Times

Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana CANNABIS and signals a major shift in drug policy.

The bill’s passage over the weekend marks the first time Congress has approved nationally significant legislation backed by legalization advocates. It brings almost to a close two decades of tension between the states and Washington over medical use of marijuana CANNABIS.

Under the provision, states where medical pot CANNABIS is legal would no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations. Agents would be prohibited from doing so.

Should the U.S. legalize marijuana CANNABIS?
Bloomberg’s Olivia Sterns reports on the New York Times’ advocacy of the legalization of marijuana.

The Obama administration has largely followed that rule since last year as a matter of policy. But the measure approved as part of the spending bill, which President Obama plans to sign this week, will codify it as a matter of law.

Pot CANNABIS advocates had lobbied Congress to embrace the administration’s policy, which they warned was vulnerable to revision under a less tolerant future administration.

More important, from the standpoint of activists, Congress’ action marked the emergence of a new alliance in marijuana CANNABIS politics: Republicans are taking a prominent role in backing states’ right to allow use of a drug the federal government still officially classifies as more dangerous than cocaine.

“This is a victory for so many,” said the measure’s coauthor, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa. The measure’s approval, he said, represents “the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana CANNABIS.”

By now, 32 states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot CANNABIS or its ingredients to treat ailments, a movement that began in the 1990s. Even back then, some states had been approving broader decriminalization measures for two decades.

The medical marijuana CANNABIS movement has picked up considerable momentum in recent years. The Drug Enforcement Administration, however, continues to place marijuana CANNABIS in the most dangerous category of narcotics, with no accepted medical use.

Congress for years had resisted calls to allow states to chart their own path on pot CANNABIS. The marijuana CANNABIS measure, which forbids the federal government from using any of its resources to impede state medical marijuana CANNABIS laws, was previously rejected half a dozen times. When Washington, D.C., voters approved medical marijuana CANNABIS in 1998, Congress used its authority over the city’s affairs to block the law from taking effect for 11 years.

Even as Congress has shifted ground on medical marijuana CANNABIS, lawmakers remain uneasy about full legalization. A separate amendment to the spending package, tacked on at the behest of anti-marijuana crusader Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), will jeopardize the legalization of recreational pot in Washington, D.C., which voters approved last month.

Marijuana CANNABIS proponents nonetheless said they felt more confident than ever that Congress was drifting toward their point of view.

“The war on medical marijuana CANNABIS is over,” said Bill Piper, a lobbyist with the Drug Policy Alliance, who called the move historic.

“Now the fight moves on to legalization of all marijuana CANNABIS,” he said. “This is the strongest signal we have received from Congress [that] the politics have really shifted. … Congress has been slow to catch up with the states and American people, but it is catching up.”

The measure, which Rohrabacher championed with Rep. Sam Farr, a Democrat from Carmel, had the support of large numbers of Democrats for years. Enough Republicans joined them this year to put it over the top. When the House first passed the measure earlier this year, 49 Republicans voted aye.

Some Republicans are pivoting off their traditional anti-drug platform at a time when most voters live in states where medical marijuana CANNABIS is legal, in many cases as a result of ballot measures.

Polls show that while Republican voters are far less likely than the broader public to support outright legalization, they favor allowing marijuana CANNABIS for medical use by a commanding majority. Legalization also has great appeal to millennials, a demographic group with which Republicans are aggressively trying to make inroads.

Approval of the pot CANNABIS measure comes after the Obama administration directed federal prosecutors last year to stop enforcing drug laws that contradict state marijuana policies. Since then, federal raids of marijuana merchants and growers who are operating legally in their states have been limited to those accused of other violations, such as money laundering.

“The federal government should never get in between patients and their medicine,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland).

unicode geekery

the most current version of UNICODE, (v.7.0) has an emoticons block, which has, predictably, been incorporated into the most recent versions of your most popular operating systems in your most popular “mobile devices” (i.e. cell phones, tablets, etc.)…

but, because of the fact that they’re emoticons, i.e. pictures, rather than words, the interpretation of the emoticons in this block is, apparently, open to wild speculation about what they actually “mean” or “represent”…

which makes things A LOT more confusing, rather than clearing things up, as emoticons were intended to do…

for example, U+1F624 FACE WITH LOOK OF TRIUMPH looks like this, according to UNICODE:

U+1F624

looks like this in Mac OsX and iOS:

U+1F624

and, honestly, to me it looks like a “haughty” face rather than a “triumphant” one… either that, or it’s someone with an outrageous mustache…

another one that is even more confusing is U+1F632 ASTONISHED FACE, which looks like this, according to UNICODE:

U+1F632

and looks like this in Mac OsX and iOS:

U+1F632

which looks to me like a DEAD face… seriously, why don’t they make his eyes OPEN and not X-ed out… 😐

and then we get into non-real (for people in the west, anyway) glyphs, such as U+1F472 MAN WITH GUA PI MAO, which is in the “Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs” block and NOT the “Emoticons” block — a confusing aspect that is shared by a lot of the other “emoticons” in the version of unicode that the general public uses — which looks like this:

U+1F472

and in iOS it looks like this

U+1F472

i guess it is somewhat more understandable if you know that GUA PI MAO is a type of Chinese skullcap, but even knowing that doesn’t make it particularly useful to a western person…

and a lot of the things that pass for emoticons, but are something else, according to the UNICODE standard, are weirder than that… for example, the world-famous U+1F4A9 PILE OF POO, which, according to UNICODE, looks like this:

U+1F4A9

and, according to apple, looks like this:

U+1F4A9

i can think of a few select circumstances where the PILE OF POO glyph might be actually useful, and a whole bunch more that would definitely be silly, but why it got included in UNICODE is so far beyond my understanding that i am totally baffled.

Proposed Legislation Could Federally Legalize Cannabis

Proposed Legislation Could Federally Legalize Cannabis
Joseph Lemiuex
23 February, 2015

On Friday, two congressmen have put forth bills that would ultimately end the federal prohibition of cannabis.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. This act would remove marijuana scheduling from the Controlled Substances Act, and put marijuana under the control of the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). This move would regulate cannabis no different than alcohol on the federal level.

The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) would set up a federal excise tax for regulated marijuana.

The bills would not force any state government to legalize marijuana, but it would set a framework for states that are interested. This framework, if passed, would expedite states legalization if they choose to legalize. Cannabis has been making its mark upon the American people, and many are now in support of legalization.

So far, the U.S. has 4 states that out right legalized marijuana, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, and 11 others have legalized marijuana in a restricted shape or form for medical use.

“While President Obama and the Justice Department have allowed the will of voters in states like Colorado and 22 other jurisdictions to move forward, small business owners, medical marijuana patients, and others who follow state laws still live with the fear that a new administration — or this one — could reverse course and turn them into criminals,” Polis said in a statement Friday. “It is time for us to replace the failed prohibition with a regulatory system that works and let states and municipalities decide for themselves if they want, or don’t want, to have legal marijuana within their borders.”

Even though many Americans and states look favorably upon cannabis, it is still a federal crime. While federal guidance has been going easy on the states that have legalized, people are still going to federal prison for marijuana related convictions. This makes you wonder, if these bills pass, what will become of the already convicted felons of marijuana possession? Will the federal government release these inmates, or continue to hold them for a crime the government now deems legal.

Blumenauer called the federal prohibition of marijuana “a failure” that has wasted tax dollars and ruined lives. He also said it’s time for the government to forge a new path ahead for the plant.

“As more states move to legalize marijuana as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done,” Blumenauer said, “it’s imperative the federal government become a full partner in building a workable and safe framework.”

Mushroom-induced brain rewiring could hold the key to fighting mental illness

Mushroom-induced brain rewiring could hold the key to fighting mental illness
Scott Kaufman
31 Oct 2014

Psychedelic mushrooms dramatically increase connectivity between otherwise uncommunicative parts of the brain, according to researchers from Imperial College London in an article to be published in the November edition of the Royal Society’s journal Interface.

Paul Expert and his team analyzed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from two groups of people — one who had ingested a small amount of the active agent in hallucinogenic mushrooms, psilocybin, and another group who was given a placebo.

They found that the main effect was the creation of stable connections between parts of the brain that, under normal conditions, only communicate with each other in dream states — such as the hippocampus (which deals with short term memory and spatial recognition) and anterior cingulate cortex (which regulates rational cognitive functions).

The result of this stable cross-wiring is a more interconnected brain, as shown on the diagram below:

brain rewiring on mushrooms

On the left is a data visualization of a brain administered the placebo; on the right, one that has been subjected to a mild dose of psilocybin.

“We can speculate on the implications of such an organization,” Dr. Expert said. “One possible by-product of this greater communication across the whole brain is the phenomenon of synaesthesia” — which is the experience of having senses overlap, such that certain smells are accompanied by flashes of color, or certain sounds are accompanied by tastes.

It is also believed that rewiring the brain in this manner may allow scientists to find more effective ways to treat depression or help smokers and alcoholics battle their addictions.

This research is only possible thanks to a a recent loosening on the regulations regarding the study of psychedelic drugs for medical purposes. This is a positive measure, said study co-author Giovanni Petri, who told Wired that “in a normal brain, many things are happening. You don’t know what is going on, or what is responsible for that. So you try to perturb the state of consciousness a bit, and see what happens.”