heritage

Eleven Evil Ways To Crush Legal Cannabis

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MARIJUANA POLITICS – The News Source For an Informed Citizenry Post by Don Fitch

The conservative Heritage Foundation has developed a dangerous document to help destroy state legalized cannabis.

The powerful Heritage Foundation has had substantial influence upon Republicans since it helped chaperon Ronald Reagan and is providing major guidance to the Donald Trump administration.  The foundation, abbreviated Heritage, is supposedly conservative, but without the commitment to small government, state’s rights, and individual liberty. Heritage’s brand of authoritarian conservationism emphasizes bigger military, aggressive and preemptive military action around the world, and social conservatism. Apart from gun rights, the foundation rejects the more constitutional and libertarian conservationism that would emphasize smaller government and individual rights.

This devious scheme, How Trump’s DOJ Can Start Enforcing Federal Marijuana Law, was penned by Heritage’s Cully Stimson. The 11-point plan uses government coercion to demolish state medical and adult-use legalizations of marijuana. Michael Roberts wrote of the plan and some of the worried reaction in Westword.com. He quotes Justin Strekal, NORML’s policy director,

I’ve been screaming about this to anyone who will listen, just because of the outsized influence the Heritage Foundation has had over the administration’s policies.

The Heritage Foundation’s 11-point plan is printed below, along with commentary. This insidious scheme is a blue-print for big, coercive government to crush to freedoms, livelihoods, and medical choices of tens of millions of Americans.

1. Reaffirm support for the law. Issue a statement affirming the incoming administration’s commitment to the Controlled Substances Act with the goal of reducing, not expanding, the use of marijuana in the nation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly spoken against marijuana and its legalization. Recently, Session claimed “that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about . . . and to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

The president has made forceful but vague comments about the evils of drugs in general: “…the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth.” It seems that Trump is content to let Jeff Sessions set policy on drugs, including marijuana, not good for legal marijuana.

2. Coordinate with lower-level officials. Have the new attorney general prioritize reaching out to governors and key law enforcement officials in states that have legalized marijuana to work with them on enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

Jeff Sessions has “reached out” to political leaders in legal states, basically challenging them to confront his accusations that legal marijuana in their state is out of control and somehow a threat to the nation. Governors of four adult-use legal states, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have given his meddling a cold reception. So far, the Attorney General’s efforts here have been an abysmal failure.

These state governors, their attorneys general, and law enforcement, including state police, have informed Jeff Session’s that his analysis is in error, that they are working hard on successfully regulating state legal marijuana, and by the way, stay out of our state.

One set of “lower-level officials” Sessions may have much more success with is local, county, and regional law enforcement and drug task forces. With this tactic the feds can by-pass newly reluctant state officials, and bring down the drug war hammer to America’s highways. Sessions is pushing asset forfeiture programs where the DEA returns a good portion of seized asset directly back to the police who seized them. This program, if implemented on a massive scale would provide Sessions with an army of drug warriors on the ground and an enormous cash flow free from any congressional restrictions on spending.

3. Reassert America’s drug position on the world stage. The White House should make clear that the United States continues to support the three international drug conventions, and that it intends to change its domestic policy to reflect that support.

“Changes in domestic policy” is code for de-legalize medical and adult use marijuana in all states.  These three treaties, which the US has long used to badger any country wishing to explore any policy other than hard line criminalization, mandate no legal cannabis. Up until now, the administration has made no new assertions of the treaties.

Internationally, President Trump has gone out of his way to praise Philippine president Dutarte in his genocidal war on drugs.

As always, Trump blames Mexico for America’s drug problem and as a way to sell his border wall. He said in a recent press conference,

Tremendous drugs are pouring into the United States at levels that nobody has ever seen before. This happened over the last three to four years in particular. The wall will stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country and poisoning our youth.

4. Up the profile of key drug enforcement personnel. Restore to Cabinet-level status the position of the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and adequately fund the office so that it can be effective.

This has not been done. The drug czar still lacks cabinet status and indeed the position is filled with an interim replacement. Same with DEA, where Obama’s administrator Chuck Rosenberg remains in place. The recent opioid panel chaired by Chris Christie had little involvement with the ONDCP.

5. Rescind and replace the August 2013 memorandum from then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole — i.e. the “Cole Memo.” The Department of Justice could do this by reiterating that marijuana cultivation, distribution, and sale are against federal law and that while states may decriminalize possession of marijuana, they may not issue licenses to sell it or commercialize it. Reiterate that the federal government is not locking up people for smoking marijuana, and that state employees are not going to be arrested, but that the Department of Justice fully expects states to not permit commercialized marijuana production and sale.

The Cole memo remains intact. But Sessions and his army of federal prosecutors and thousands of assistant prosecutors could commit havoc in all states by seeking out violators of the memo. If legalized states were compelled by the federal government to end their regulation of marijuana, then all the controls over (and taxes gained) from legalization would vanish, leaving an unregulated marijuana marketplace.

6. Select marijuana businesses to prosecute. Find a handful of cases in which large, well-funded marijuana businesses are in violation of both state and federal marijuana laws and prosecute both their management/operators and financiers. A real threat of prosecution will raise the cost of capital in the industry significantly, and seriously impede any operations above the cottage-level. Moreover, selection of unsympathetic defendants in violation of both state and federal law will (1) minimize political pushback, (2) avoid conflict with congressional appropriations provisions, and (3) clearly demonstrate the failure of the Cole Memo.

The shoe has not dropped on selective federal prosecutions, but probably soon will. Among Session’s army of 94 US Federal Prosecutors, those in adult-legal states are doubtless salivating at the prospect of prosecuting “well-funded marijuana businesses” to satisfy their goals of easy mandatory minimums, asset forfeitures, wide-spread publicity, and, priceless, pleasing their boss Jeff Sessions.

Now anti-marijuana activist (and key Obama drug policy advisor) Kevin Sabat’s SAM organization has come out with recommendations mirroring this tactic, claiming the Cole Memo has failed and that Americans need the “protection” of a reenergized war on marijuana.

7. Rescind the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s guidance for banks and oppose efforts to expand banking services to the marijuana industry. One of the principal brakes on the expansion of the marijuana industry is its lack of access to banking. Once pot businesses have regular, unimpeded access to institutional capital, their ability to scale up will expand significantly—and the financial sector will begin to lobby in favor of expanded sales of the drug.

Also part of Sabet’s anti-legalization tract is the maintenance of the shunning of cannabis businesses by banks. Lack of banking access is indeed a desperate problem for the industry. Federal legislation has been introduced to fix this problem, but will likely fail.

8. Support state attorneys general in nonlegalized states. Nonlegalized states have suffered significantly from illegal diversion of marijuana from legalized states, and from the apparent uptick in sophisticated cartel activity there. Support could include entering as an amicus to support the merits of the suit Nebraska and Oklahoma filed against Colorado.

The suit by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado legalization gained the enmity from many conservatives because of its raw attack on state’s rights. The Oklahoma Attorney General who participated in the suit against the rights of the voters of Colorado was none other than current EPA head Scott Pruitt. The Supreme Court ruled against the case in 2016, but left open that it might be resolved in federal court, so the danger is not over. Anti-marijuana and anti-environment zealot Pruitt said, “The fact remains — Colorado marijuana continues to flow into Oklahoma, in direct violation of federal and state law.”

9. Prosecute those dealing in marijuana — which is illegal under federal law — using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Those who engage in a pattern of racketeering activity through a corporation or other enterprise are liable for three times the economic harm they cause. RICO gives federal courts the power to order racketeering enterprises and their co-conspirators to cease their unlawful operations.

RICO is indeed a scary prospect, and appears to be underway. With 5,000 assistant US Attorneys needing something to do, a flood of RICO lawsuits is a nauseating possibility. The precarious status of cannabis as a Schedule I drug enables the RICO action originally written to attack the mafia. Soon it may be used to legally annihilate even small scale cannabis operation. More on this RICO peril in later posts.

10. Prosecute those who provide financing for marijuana operations. Federal anti-money laundering statutes make it illegal to engage in financial transactions designed to promote illegal activities, including drug trafficking. Start with one major marijuana financier and successfully prosecute it.

Easy prosecutions with possible asset forfeiture and favorable publicity will excite the interest of Session’s US Attorney army. The assumption is probably correct that the destruction of a few industry leaders and financiers could strike damaging blows to the industry.

11. Empower the FDA to take action to regulate marijuana in order to protect patients and the public. Marijuana legalization poses a public health problem, and the FDA should be tasked with investigating marijuana for chemical contamination and pesticides. Marijuana should also be subject to the standards of the rigorous criteria of the FDA approval process, which has been carefully constructed to protect consumer and patient health and safety.

That is, use another US bureaucracy to kill off the powerful new cannabis preventative, palliatives and cures before their momentum and public demand  rise to unstoppable levels.  Many reformers fear an outside FDA influence should cannabis be down-scheduled to Schedule 2. All the more reason cannabis must be removed from the Controlled Substances Act prison altogether.

In sum, these eleven coercive tactics could deliver considerable pain to cannabis consuming Americans, marijuana entrepreneurs and workers, and medical users across the country. They could also deliver political pain to the politicians supporting them as they go against the majority will to legalize marijuana, especially medical.

The post Eleven Evil Ways To Crush Legal Cannabis appeared first on MARIJUANA POLITICS.

Group Shares Desire to Dance

BALLET FOLKLORICOEUGENE, Ore. — A group of families in Lane County is committed to sharing their culture and traditions as they celebrate Latino Heritage Month.

When most families are going out to a dinner or a movie on a weekend night, some Latino families head to school. They bring their shoes, bright beautiful skirts, and a desire to dance. Every two weeks they gather at Cesar Chavez Elementary for dance lessons. Transforming the cafeteria into a dance studio.

Ballet Folklorico Alma de Mexico. The group started in 2004 with a simple desire: parents wanting their children to learn Mexican dances.

Once they started up, their following grew.

“We have 31 songs that we’ve taught over the years. We have about 10 families participating. All together there are about 18 to 20 kids,” said Monica Olvera.

Olvera learned many of the dances as a student at Oregon State University and also from her husband. Olvera now teaches the young students including her daughter, Maria.

“I can’t really decide which I love the costumes. The music is really unique. Friends are amazing i love all of it to be honest,” said Maria Olvera.

While the children practice the dances, their parents beaming with pride.

“I think the parents make the purpose of bringing their kids to a place where they can inculcate tradition or cultural values that otherwise might not be transmitted to their children” Olvera said.

Ballet Folklorico Alma de Mexico performs Friday at Latino Heritage Night. For ticket information click here.

Boondockers Farm: Preserving Heritage Breeds for Future Generations

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Boondockers Farm: Preserving Heritage Breeds for Future Generations
by Mike Bullington, EDN

The flower pattern on Rachel Kornstein’s rubber boots is faded from long hours in the sun and smeared with mud from a parade of duck feet that follow her as she moves about her chores. Framed by dark hair and a ponytail, her face holds the weight and passion of a generation looking at a future full of uncertainties. Together with her partner, Evan Gregoire, they are the owners and full-time crew of Boondockers Farm.

Mornings at Boondockers start later than is traditional with farmers—up and out by 9 or 10 a.m.—but they continue up into the late evening with a never-ending list of tasks: feeding ducks, chickens and dogs; milking three cows and attending to their heirloom vegetables, while remaining ever on the watch for predators. After dark, Evan shifts from his role as a traditional pasture farmer into—more fitting for a man just out of his twenties— a marketing manager, utilizing a campaign of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to promote the heritage animals and heirloom vegetables they are raising on their forty acres in the Spencer Creek district of rural Lane County.

Boondockers’ primary breed is the Ancona duck. Originating in Great Britain in the early 19th century, it is a flightless duck with characteristic black splotches randomly marking their bodies and webbed feet. Along with five other species of duck, 12 breeds of chicken, and five species of turkey, the Ancona are listed as critically endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC). The ALBC list of endangered and threatened poultry and livestock breeds contains over 100 unique breeds that are being bred into extinction. With the modern farm’s emphasis placed on production and profitability, commercial, fast-growing breeds are preferred over the diversity of slower-growing heritage breeds.

Like their heirloom vegetable counterparts, heritage breeds have been developed over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Built into the diversity of these breeds is a insurance policy against disease and natural disasters. Jeannette Beranger, from the ALBC, likens relying on a single breed to a bad investment in the stock market. “If you put all your stock into one company and they tank—you are in a lot of trouble,” Beranger explains. “Keeping these breeds around is setting the future of agriculture up with some security.”

Over the last 50 to 75 years poultry farming has undergone a huge transformation. Birds have been brought indoors in order to control their environment and utilize mechanical means of feeding and harvesting. “The change from hand tools to industrial agriculture, from food being for feeding people to food being for profit. Chemicals—,” Rachel breaks off with a look of stern disagreement. “Food is becoming like warfare.”

Boondockers Farm officially started with two endangered ducks (named Housh and Suni) in the front yard of a rented house in Eugene in 2004. Evan and Rachel had known each other for about three years when Evan left a career in sports marketing and management in Los Angeles. With a small severance package and no clear direction other than to have “a balance of trees to concrete,” they moved from the busy work-a-day world of Southern California to Eugene.  What they never imagined when they made the two-day drive up I-5 was that they would not only dedicate their days to rural heritage farming, but to preserving an entire breed of animal, the Ancona duck. Boondockers is currently the primary source of Ancona ducks in the United States with 60 breeding pairs. “We didn’t even know we wanted to be farmers back then,” Rachel laughs, sitting cross-legged on the ground with a flock of baby ducks and yearlings pecking the ground about her. “We wanted a lifestyle that is connected.”

Two endangered ducks turned into three (Housh and Suni had a baby named Tiny) and then into seven and then into 37—at which point the habit of naming them became impractical. A new piece of property was leased with more room. Chickens, vegetables and cows were added. And to guard them all the couple began breeding Pyrenees Mountain Dogs. “We shifted to calling ourselves a farm,” Rachel says, half distracted by a baby pecking at her shoe. A constant chorus of high-pitched chirps emanates from the flock of immature birds who have not developed the characteristic quack just yet. Roaming back and forth with a seemingly single mind they peck at her toes, the ground and anything that does not move away quick enough. The ducks are young to be out on their own—just three days old, their down still crusted from hatching. Rachel has decided to let them out from under the heat lamps and into the warm sun early because the time foraging is good for them. “It’s just the healthiest thing for them,” she explains. “They eat so many things and learn natural behaviors.”

Commercial breeds are dependent on controlled environments. The Broad-breasted White turkey, which accounts for 90 percent of all turkeys being raised, cannot reproduce naturally. It continues to exist only because of artificial insemination. A joint study between the ALBC and Virginia Tech demonstrated that commercial poultry breeds have a weakened immune system in comparison to heritage breeds and are therefore more prone to illness. The implications of this are clear: one massive disease outbreak or natural disaster that disrupts their controlled environment and this food source could disappear.

If there is a poster-child for factory farming, it is the Cornish Cross chicken. The Cornish Cross is the classic supermarket chicken. It eats until it can’t walk. It outgrows its skeletal system in a matter of eight weeks due to breeding. Because of this rapid growth it is prone to broken legs, lameness and sudden heart failure. Rachel, moving now to throw her brood some feed, tells of a friend who lost over 40 Cornish Cross chickens in one day because they were too heavy to move to the other side of their pen to get out of the direct sun and get a drink of water. “Within six to eight weeks their internal organs will hemorrhage, their legs will break, and they die. They can’t grow any larger. They can’t move to get food. They sit in their own poo in little pens. And then we eat them.”

Evan walks with a casual gait as he goes about his chores on the farm with a hint of Southern California surfer-dude left in his voice. His youngish face sports an almost impish grin peering out from under a tan floppy shade hat and a three-day beard. This evening’s chores for Evan includes moving portable fencing that is used to corral their Delaware Broilers in with the dogs at night. The Delawares are a second endangered breed being preserved at Boondockers. The white and black speckled chickens are a slow-growing heritage breed—taking an average of 16 weeks to reach market weight and are known for their mellow disposition, well developed eggs and quality meat.

Evan is rotating the electric fencing protecting their coop further up the hill in order to give the land a rest. All about him the white Delawares run to and fro as if directed by some inane chicken logic. One adolescent male catches sight of Evan bending down to pick up an empty feed bag and runs towards him—its head and neck stretched forward, wings back and strong legs pumping quickly in a comical manner—in case feed is coming. Satisfied that it has not missed out it moves on to examine the side of a plastic bucket with intense curiosity.

The local food movement is not taken seriously by some customers—“Convenience, that is the key word,” Rachel explains with wide eyes, pointing out the ultimate excuse with a hand in the air. But she is realistic about people’s abilities, conceding that not everyone is going to grow their own food. What she insists on is that they have a better appreciation for where their food is coming from. “It’s gotta be a grassroots movement,” Rachel declares while pulling a length of garden hose nearby. ”Just demand the product and get it.”

“There are kids growing up who do not know what butter is. Where did it come from?” Ultimately, she explains, it is up to the customer to know what they are buying. “Look into every aspect of what you are eating, not just the labels — ‘pasture raised, grass fed, organic.’ They could be in a filthy cage. The grass fed label… they can be in confinement.”

What is comes down to is knowing your farmer. “The way people know their family doctor — I don’t see there being any difference,” she says, ”In fact, I think you would want to know your farmer in the same way.”

Evan takes a break from pushing the portable fence posts into the ground. “It’s also about making food choices based on what your proximity is to certain things,” he declares as a matter of fact. “Get chickens, start seed saving.”

“Is it really cheaper when you are not getting the nutrients you need when you’re growing up and then you’ve got issues when you’re older?” Rachel asks, as if pointing out an obvious fact.

“I know. We ate a lot of fast-food,” Evan confesses. “My mom was a single parent. She cooked when she could,” he continues, relating with some sheepishness the secret of their own evolution. “Wendy’s is $2 tonight and we’re broke. It’s easy. When we moved up here and we started this, that is how we were feeding ourselves. “That’s the irony of it,” he says, shaking his head.

Change is familiar to these California transplants who have gone from a lifestyle of fast-food convenience to, despite the long hours and the weight of responsibility, a life of farming. “It takes financial support and a whole lot of moral support from family, community members, friends,” Rachel points out.

Rachel is walking up the gravel road from the barn to where their breeding Ancona pairs are housed with two 100-pound, 5-foot 6-inch tall Pyrenees Mountain Dogs. The Pyrenees have been bred for generations to protect livestock.

“Our dogs are well tested out here,” Rachel says as she surveys the landscape. The wooded forest brings raccoons, foxes, and weasels. Above in the air are hawks that could snatch up a baby duckling in an instant. Recently a duck was lost to what is believed to be a skunk that was after the eggs still in its womb. “It happened in broad daylight,” Rachel recalls. The dogs alerted to the presence but not before the duck was dead.

Rachel’s eyes mist over and her voice shakes, letting slip the great passion she feels about her calling, about the gravity of their responsibility to these breeds and to the future of food. “It’s a huge responsibility.”