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Updated: 16 hours 16 min ago

Legal Marijuana Runs Right Over Maine's Obstructionist Tea Party Governor

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 14:00
The legislature voted to override the veto.

Paul LePage, Maine's irascible Tea Party Republican governor, is no friend of marijuana. He opposed the state's successful 2016 marijuana legalization initiative, and, once it won, vetoed the legislature's bill to implement the will of the voters. That was last year.

That left the state with pot possession and personal cultivation legal, but no way to buy or sell legal marijuana. This year, the legislature once again passed a bill to implement the initiative's taxed and regulated sales provisions, LD 1719. It even incorporated some of LePage's previous criticisms, resulting in a bill more restrictive than what voters approved.

Again, LePage vetoed the bill. But this time, the legislature had had enough. On Wednesday, the House voted 109-39 and the Senate voted 28-6 to override LePage's veto, poking a thumb in the governor's eye and setting the state on a path to the legal sale and production of recreational marijuana some 18 months after voters approved it.

The bill creates the rules for licensing and regulating marijuana producers, processors, and retail establishments and sets the tax rates for adult-use marijuana. But as a sop to LePage and other foes, it does not allow for social use, meaning buyers will be limited to using it at home (if the landlord agrees), and lawmakers also halved the number of plants people can grow, from six to three.

While the bill doesn't cap the number of cultivation licenses or the amount of weed that can be grown in the state, creating fears that a glut of pot will drive out all but the most deep-pocketed growers, it does contain a provision granting business licenses only to Maine residents for the first three years.

Pot shops aren't going to pop up overnight, either. Now that the bill has become law, state regulators will have to develop rules and regulations for the industry, which in turn will have to be approved by the legislature. It may be the spring of 2019 before Mainers can finally walk into a shop and buy their legal weed.

Still, the veto override is a major step on Maine's path to legal taxed and regulated marijuana sales.

"After a long and unnecessary delay, the decision by Maine voters to regulate marijuana for adults will finally be respected," said Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project and campaign director for the 2016 Maine legalization ballot initiative campaign. "While this bill is imperfect, its overall effect is implementation of the legalization policy that Maine voters approved at the ballot box a year and a half ago."

Maine was one of four states where voters passed legalization initiatives in 2016, and it will be the last of the four to get sales up and running. California and Nevada have already implemented their programs, and Massachusetts should see retail sales begin next month.

"With his veto overridden, the governor should cease his obstructionist tactics so that Maine does not fall further behind Massachusetts in establishing a system for legal and regulated marijuana sales," Schweich added.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have so far legalized marijuana for adults. While at least 20 states will or have considered legalization bills this year, the most likely prospect for the next legal marijuana state is Michigan, where voters will have their say in November. In the meantime, Maine will be busy getting its pot shop regulations ship-shape and waving goodbye to Gov. LePage in the rearview mirror.

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The Feds Can Indict Marijuana Users for Buying Guns Even in States Where Pot Is Legalized

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 13:25
Just one way using even legal marijuana makes you a second-class citizen.

Less than a month ago, AlterNet published "4 Ways Using Even Legal Marijuana Makes You a Second-Class Citizen," which enumerated some of the reasons marijuana legalization by itself is not sufficient to guarantee the rights of pot smokers. One of those reasons was the inability of marijuana users to own or purchase guns.

Under federal law, enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), all gun purchasers must fill out Form 4473, which asks: "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?" the form asks.

Last year, and just to make sure stoners got the message, ATF has added the following language: "Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside."

The article noted that pot smokers who want to legally purchase a weapon would have to lie on Form 4473, but that they were unlikely to be caught and prosecuted.

That has changed. The U.S. attorney in Maine has now indicted two men on federal firearms charges for allegedly lying about their marijuana use on the gun purchase form.

Donald Henderson, 33, of Winthrop, was indicted for alleged false statements while buying a pistol from a local gun shop in February 2017 and again while purchasing another pistol the following month. The indictment alleges he checked the box saying he was not a marijuana user when he in fact was.

And Richard Quattrone, 48, of Augusta, was also indicted for lying on a federal firearms license in March 2017. The indictment says he purchased a pistol from the same local gun shop as Henderson and checked the box saying he was not a user of marijuana or controlled substances when he was in fact "an unlawful user of marijuana."

The federal prosecutors in Maine are on firm legal ground—the law is quite clear—but the question now becomes whether a political backlash can rein them in. That's what happened when law enforcement officials in some states tried to order registered medical marijuana patients to turn in their guns. In Pennsylvania, the state Health Department is no longer providing the names of patients to law enforcement after newspapers there reported the patients would not be able to buy firearms; in Illinois, regulators removed a rule that would have barred legal gun owners from becoming patients; and in Hawaii, police had to walk back a plan to force patients to hand in their guns.

The Jeff Sessions Justice Department, where ATF resides, is unlikely to be as swayed by angry public opinion as state officials in legal marijuana states, and that suggests that people who use marijuana need to really think twice before filling out that Form 4473. If they tell the truth, they will be barred from purchasing a gun; if they lie, they could be charged with a federal criminal offense and sent to prison.

If you're a pot smoker and really, really want to buy a gun, you may want to stick to gun shows and private purchases, but you are still potentially liable for federal prosecution if you get caught with it and the local U.S. attorney wants to score a coup.

This is one more reason marijuana legalization is only half the battle.

 

 

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The Deadliest Drug in America At the Heart of Trump's VA Nominee Scandal

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 02:18
For the first time in a while, pundits and politicians were talking about the drug that kills more people than any other each year in the U.S.

I’m talking about alcohol, which upstaged opioid abuse in news coverage recently, but only after Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson withdrew his name for consideration to head Veterans Affairs, in part because of allegations that he has abused alcohol. Jackson has denied any problem with alcohol.

This provides an opportune time to discuss the seriousness of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol contributes to 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, more than double the number of people, 42,000, killed by heroin and opioid prescription drug overdose in 2016. Excessive drinking accounted for one in 10 deaths among working-age adults.

In addition, more than 66.7 million Americans reported binge drinking in the past month in 2015, according to a report by the surgeon general.

As someone who has studied alcohol use disorder for over 15 years and who has treated thousands of patients who have it, I think it’s a major, yet often poorly understood, public health problem.

A social lubricant

Alcohol can be a quick and easy way to get into the spirit of a celebration. And it feels good. After two glasses of wine, the brain is activated through complex neurobiochemical processes that naturally release dopamine, a neurotransmitter of great importance.

When the dopamine molecule locks on to its receptor located on the surface of a neuron, or basic brain cell, a “buzz” occurs. It is often desirably anticipated before the second glass is empty.There are those, however, who drink right past the buzz into intoxication and, often, into trouble. For them, the brain starts releasing the same enjoyable dopamine, no different than what happens in the casual drinker’s, but it doesn’t stop there. A compulsion to binge drink can result.

Binge drinking, defined as drinking five or more drinks for men and four for women on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days, is a medical condition that victimizes the comparative malfunction of the pleasure circuits in the brain.

The three stages of addiction

The alcohol addiction process involves a three-stage cycle: binge-intoxication, withdrawal-negative affect, and preoccupation-anticipation.

It begins in the neurons, the basic type of brain cell. The brain has an estimated 86 billion of these cells, which communicate through chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.

Neurons can organize in clusters and form networks in order to perform specific functions such as thinking, learning, emotions and memory. The addiction cycle disrupts the normal function of some of these networks in three areas of the brain – the basal ganglia, the extended amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.

The disruptions do several things that contribute to continued drinking. They enable drinking-associated triggers, or cues, which lead to seeking alcohol. They also reduce the sensitivity of the brain systems, causing a diminished experience of pleasure or reward, and heighten activation of brain stress systems. Last, they reduce function of brain executive control systems, the part of the brain that typically helps make decisions and regulate one’s actions, emotions and impulses.

These networks are critical for human survival. Unfortunately for the binge drinker, they become “hijacked,” and the bingeing continues even after the harmful effects have begun.

Because binge drinkers’ brains feel intense pleasure from alcohol, there is a powerful motivation to binge drink again and again. What may begin as social binge drinking at parties for recreation can cause progressive neuro-adaptive changes in brain structure and function. The brain is no longer well enough to function normally. Continued partying can transition into a chronic and uncontrollable daily pattern of alcohol use. These maladaptive neurological changes can persist long after the alcohol use stops.

Your brain on alcohol

During the binge-intoxication stage, the basal ganglia rewards the drinker with pleasurable effects, releasing dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for the rewarding effects of alcohol and creating the desire for more.

With continued bingeing, the “habit circuity” is repeatedly activated in another part of the basal ganglia called the dorsal striatum. It contributes to the compulsive seeking of more alcohol. This explains the craving that is triggered when a binge drinker is driving by a favorite bar and can’t resist pulling in, even after a promise to go directly home after work.

During the withdrawal-negative affect stage, there is a break from drinking. Because the reward circuit has a diminished ability to deliver a dopamine reward, there is far less pleasure with natural, safe experiences such as food and sex, compared to alcohol.

During abstinence from alcohol, stress neurotransmitters such as corticotropin-releasing factor and dynorphin are released. These powerful neurochemicals cause negative emotional states associated with alcohol withdrawal. This drives the drinker back to alcohol to gain relief and attempt to reestablish the rewards of intoxication.

After a period of abstinence from alcohol, which may last only hours, the drinker enters the preoccupation-anticipation stage. This involves the prefrontal cortex, where executive decisions are made about whether or not to override the strong urges to drink. This part of the brain functions with a “go system” and “stop system.”

When the go circuits stimulate the habit-response system of the dorsal striatum, the drinker becomes impulsive and seeks a drink, perhaps even subconsciously. The stop system can inhibit the activity of the go system and is important especially in preventing relapse.

Brain imaging studies show that binge drinking can disrupt the function in both the go and stop circuits. This interferes with proper decision-making and behavioral inhibition. The drinker is both impulsive and compulsive.

An illness that can be treated

Scientific evidence shows that this disorder can be treated.

The FDA has approved three medications for treatment that should be offered whenever appropriate. There is well-supported scientific evidence that behavioral therapies can be effective treatment. This includes recovery support services, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Most importantly, it is important to know that alcohol use disorder is a brain disorder causing a chronic illness. It is no different from diabetes, asthma or hypertension. When comprehensive, continuing care is provided, the recovery results improve, and the binge drinker has the hope of remaining sober as long as lifelong treatment and maintenance of sobriety become a dedicated lifestyle choice.

Jamie Smolen, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Florida

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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New York Times Feature Seriously Ponders Whether We Should Let People Addicted to Drugs Die

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 10:10
The piece asks how many "second chances" are deserved.

Over the weekend, as the journalism world fiercely debated whether it’s OK to make fun of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the New York Times—without stirring much controversy—asked if doctors should let people die if they’re addicted to drugs.

“Injecting Drugs Can Ruin a Heart. How Many Second Chances Should a User Get?” the headline of a large feature piece wonders. The article details the frustrations doctors face dealing with the fallout from the opioid crisis. That includes having patients doing drugs in the hospital, a phenomenon one doctor likens to “trying to do a liver transplant on someone who’s drinking a fifth of vodka on the stretcher.”

People who inject drugs are susceptible to blood infections, which can lead to endocarditis, a catastrophic condition that requires a surgeon to patch a heart back together with one or more artificial valves. The procedures are expensive, and doctors or hospitals are not happy to do them on repeat for people who continue to do drugs. So the piece seems to ask, in all earnestness, whether it makes sense to deny people with a deadly condition treatment if they seem likely to relapse.

The piece centers around 28- year-old Jerika Whitefield, a Tennessee mother who lands in the hospital half-dead from endocarditis after injecting meth. “Her whispered appeal to a skeptical nurse: “Please don’t let me die. I promise, I won’t ever do it again.”’ The article goes on to explain that doctors tell her this would be the last time they would operate on her if she keeps shooting up. Her step-father recalls that one doctor admitted he would not try very hard to save her life. “He said once someone’s been shooting up, you go through all this money and surgery and they go right back to shooting up again, so it’s not worth it,” Mr. Mignogna recalled. “I was just dumbfounded,” the article notes.

Whitefield gets a redemption narrative. She appears to have stopped doing illegal drugs, even as she continues to suffer from the serious health complications of endocarditis and the anxiety of being treated like a pariah by the medical establishment. Others, who are nameless in the piece, aren’t as lucky.

“A little over a year ago, [Dr. Pollard] replaced a heart valve in a 25-year-old man who had injected drugs, only to see him return a few months later. Now two valves, including the new one, were badly infected, and his urine tested positive for illicit drugs. Dr. Pollard declined to operate a second time, and the patient died at a hospice. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” he said.

It’s not entirely clear if the doctor opted out of operating on the 25-year-old man because he thought he was too sick to make it through the procedure, or if he chose to let him die because he assumed he’d keep doing drugs. It’s also not clear if Jerika Whitefield’s doctors really meant to follow through on their threat not to operate on her in the future or if the warning was a tactic to scare her straight. But the idea that medical professionals should refuse to treat a patient who fails to curb their addiction is highly questionable.

Dr. Jana Burson runs a MAT (medically assisted treatment) clinic in Wilkes County, North Carolina, where she administers buprenorphine and methadone to over 500 patients. She sees the struggles people go through to kick their addictions and she doesn’t think medical professionals should treat people battling addiction any differently than other patients.

“I think it’s a horrible idea,” Dr. Burson tells Raw Story. “Same as refusing to prescribe insulin for a diabetic who may not follow her diet. I don’t think we want to start down that road. Could we refuse to treat emphysema in patients who are still smoking? Where would it end?”

Widney Brown, Managing Director at the Drug Policy Alliance, points out how irrational it is to deny people treatment as some sort of tough love approach to addiction, when there policies that work to help people.

“The simplest point is that if we had comprehensive harm reduction practices for people who inject drugs—like sterile needle exchanges and safe consumption sites—they wouldn’t be getting heart infections. With harm reduction, you reduce the risk of complications.”

Also, why single out people who use drugs? “People engage in risky behavior all the time. Everytime you get in a car, you put on a seat belt and have an air bag (which is harm reduction) because driving is risky. Yet we stigmatize drug use as the kind of risk where we don’t want to allow people access to what can reduce harm. We’re more into stigmatizing this group of people rather than help them figure out how to not have bad health outcomes as a result of drug use.”

Brown, who previously worked for the medical ethics organization Physicians for Human Rights in conflict zones like Afghanistan and Syria, says physicians shouldn’t be arbiters of morality.  “They’re there to heal. At a minimum do no harm, at a maximum help people live in the best way. They’re not the ones who should be deciding that this person is not worthy of medical treatment because of what they do.” In war zones, doctors are ethically bound to treat people based on need, not based on whose side they’re on, Brown says. “If an enemy is shot up, they’re compelled to treat the person who needs it most, not based on whether they’re a good or bad person.”

America’s war on drugs continues to rely on judgmental, punitive approaches, rather than public health strategies—with poor outcomes.  “So you drive people underground, and you’ve got them using drugs in the most dangerous way—at the same time you’re not funding treatment. In that context of doing nothing to ensure people are making good choices about drugs—whether to do them in a safer way or to quit—and then we decide not to save this person’s life because they do drugs?”

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Big Pharma, Big Oil and Big Banks' Ongoing Assault on Us Meets the Definition of 'Terrorism'

Sun, 04/29/2018 - 23:13
Click here for reuse options! The terror they inflict on Americans is very real. Various definitions of terrorism have been proposed in recent years, by organizations such as the FBI, the State DepartmentHomeland Security, and the ACLU. Some common threads persist throughout the definitions: violence, injury or death, intimidation, intentionality, multiple targets, political motivation. All the criteria are met by pharmaceutical and oil and financial companies. They have all injured and intimidated the American public, and caused people to die, with intentionality shown by their refusal to acknowledge evidence of their misdeeds, and political motives clear in their lobbying efforts, where among all U.S. industries Big Pharma is #1, Big Oil is #5, and Securities/Investment #8. 

The terror inflicted on Americans is real, and is documented by the facts to follow. 


Big Pharma: Qualifying for Trump's Call for Capital Punishment for Drug Dealers 

In a Time Magazine article a young man named Chad Colwell says "I got prescribed painkillers, Percocet and Oxycontin, and then it just kind of took off from there." Time adds: "Prescriptions gave way to cheaper, stronger alternatives. Why scrounge for a $50 pill of Percocet when a tab of heroin can be had for $5?" About 75% of heroin addicts used prescription opioids before turning to heroin. 

Any questions about Big Pharma's role in violence and death in America have been answered by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Journal of Public Health. Any doubts about Big Pharma's intentions to intimidate the public have been put to rest by the many occasions of outrageous price gouging. And any uncertainty about political pressure is removed by its #1 lobbying ranking

As for malicious intentions, Bernie Sanders noted, "We know that pharmaceutical companies lied about the addictive impacts of opioids they manufactured." Purdue Pharma knew all about the devastating addictive effects of its painkiller Oxycontin, and even pleaded guilty in 2007 to misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about the drug’s risk. Now Purdue and other drug companies are facing a lawsuitfor "deceptively marketing opioids" and ignoring the misuse of their drugs. 

No jail for the opioid pushers, though, just slap-on-the-wrist fines that can be made up with a few price increases. But partly as a result of Pharma-related violence, Americans are suffering "deaths of despair"-- death by drugs, alcohol and suicide. Suicide is at its highest level in 30 years


Big Oil: Decades of Terror 

Any doubts about the ecological terror caused by fossil fuel companies have been dispelled by the World Health Organization, the American Lung Association, the United Nations, the Pentagon, cooperating governments, and independent research groups, all of whom agree that human-induced climate change is killing people. 

The oil industry's intentionality and political motives have been demonstrated by their refusal to admit the known truth, starting with Exxon, which has covered up its own climate research for 40 years, and continuing through multi-million dollar lobbying efforts by Amoco, the US Chamber of Commerce, General Motors, Koch Industries, and other corporations in their effort to dismantle the Kyoto Protocol against global warming. 


Big Banks: Leaving Suicidal Former Homeowners Behind 

Any doubts about the violence stemming from the 2008 mortgage crisis have been resolved by studies of recession-caused suicides. Both the British Journal of Psychiatry and the National Institutes of Healthfound definite links between the recession and the rate of suicides. 

As with Big Pharma and Big Oil, intentionality and political motives are evident in the banking industry's lobbying efforts on behalf of deregulation -- leading to the same conditions that threatened American homeowners in 2008. There has also been a surge in the number of non-bank lenders, who are less subject to regulation. 

Making it all worse are private developers, who make most of their profits by building fancy homes for the rich. And by avoiding affordable housing. Since the recession, Blackstone and other private equity firms -- with government subsidies -- have been buying up foreclosed houses, holding them till prices appreciate, and in the interim renting them back at exorbitant prices. 

This is leaving more and more Americans out in the cold -- literally. A head of household in the U.S. needs to make $21.21 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at HUD standards, much more than the $16.38 they actually earn. Since the recession, the situation has continually worsened. From 2010 to 2016 the number of housing units priced for very low-income families plummeted 60 percent. 

Here's the big picture: Since the 1980s there's been a massive redistribution of wealth from middle-class housing to the investment portfolios of people with an average net worth of $75 million. It's not hard to understand the "deaths of despair" caused by the terror inflicted on people losing their homes.   Click here for reuse options!
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Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 08:21
Click here for reuse options! We are increasingly marketing drugs that essentially "cure" anti-authoritarians.

In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians; and 2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.  

Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.  

Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.  

Why Mental Health Professionals Diagnose Anti-Authoritarians with Mental Illness

Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance with authorities, even those authorities one lacks respect for. The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Degrees and credentials are primarily badges of compliance. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where one routinely conforms to the demands of authorities. Thus for many MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world—a diagnosable one. 

I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments.  

In graduate school, I discovered that all it took to be labeled as having “issues with authority” was not kissing up to a director of clinical training whose personality was a combination of Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich and Howard Cosell. When I was told by some faculty that I had “issues with authority,” I had mixed feelings about being so labeled. On the one hand, I found it amusing, because among the working-class kids I had grown up with, I was considered relatively compliant with authorities. After all, I had done my homework, studied and received good grades. However, while my new “issues with authority” label made me grin because I was now being seen as a “bad boy,” I was also concerned about just what kind of profession I had entered. Specifically, if somebody such as myself was labeled as having “issues with authority,” what were they calling the kids I grew up with who paid attention to many things that they cared about but didn’t care enough about school to comply there? Well, the answer soon became clear.  

Mental Illness Diagnoses for Anti-Authoritarians

A 2009 Psychiatric Times article titled “ADHD & ODD: Confronting the Challenges of Disruptive Behavior” reports that “disruptive disorders,” which include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and opposition defiant disorder (ODD), are the most common mental health problem of children and teenagers. ADHD is defined by poor attention and distractibility, poor self-control and impulsivity, and hyperactivity. ODD is defined as a “a pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior without the more serious violations of the basic rights of others that are seen in conduct disorder”; and ODD symptoms include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules” and “often argues with adults.” 

Psychologist Russell Barkley, one of mainstream mental health’s leading authorities on ADHD, says that those afflicted with ADHD have deficits in what he calls “rule-governed behavior,” as they are less responsive to rules of established authorities and less sensitive to positive or negative consequences. ODD young people, according to mainstream mental health authorities, also have these so-called deficits in rule-governed behavior, and so it is extremely common for young people to have a “dual diagnosis” of AHDH and ODD. 

Do we really want to diagnose and medicate everyone with “deficits in rule-governed behavior”? 

Albert Einstein, as a youth, would have likely received an ADHD diagnosis, and maybe an ODD one as well. Albert didn't pay attention to his teachers, failed his college entrance examinations twice, and had difficulty holding jobs. However, Einstein biographer Ronald Clark (Einstein: The Life and Times) asserts that Albert's problems did not stem from attention deficits but rather from his hatred of authoritarian, Prussian discipline in his schools. Einstein said, “The teachers in the elementary school appeared to me like sergeants and in the Gymnasium the teachers were like lieutenants.” At age 13, Einstein read Kant's difficult Critique of Pure Reason—because he was interested in it. Clark also tells us Einstein refused to prepare himself for his college admissions as a rebellion against his father’s “unbearable” path of a “practical profession.” After he did enter college, one professor told Einstein, “You have one fault; one can’t tell you anything.” The very characteristics of Einstein that upset authorities so much were exactly the ones that allowed him to excel.  

By today’s standards, Saul Alinsky, the legendary organizer and author of Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals, would have certainly been diagnosed with one or more disruptive disorders. Recalling his childhood, Alinsky said, “I never thought of walking on the grass until I saw a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass.’ Then I would stomp all over it.” Alinsky also recalls a time when he was 10 or 11 and his rabbi was tutoring him in Hebrew:

One particular day I read three pages in a row without any errors in pronunciation, and suddenly a penny fell onto the Bible....Then the next day the rabbi turned up and he told me to start reading. And I wouldn’t; I just sat there in silence, refusing to read. He asked me why I was so quiet, and I said, “This time it’s a nickel or nothing.” He threw back his arm and slammed me across the room.

    Many people with severe anxiety and/or depression are also anti-authoritarians. Often a major pain of their lives that fuels their anxiety and/or depression is fear that their contempt for illegitimate authorities will cause them to be financially and socially marginalized, but they fear that compliance with such illegitimate authorities will cause them existential death. 

    I have also spent a great deal of time with people who had at one time in their lives had thoughts and behavior that were so bizarre they were extremely frightening for their families and even themselves; they were diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychoses, but have fully recovered and have been, for many years, leading productive lives. Among this population, I have not met one person whom I would not consider a major anti-authoritarian. Once recovered, they have learned to channel their anti-authoritarianism into more constructive political ends, including reforming mental health treatment. 

    Many anti-authoritarians who earlier in their lives were diagnosed with mental illness tell me that once they were labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis, they got caught in a dilemma. Authoritarians, by definition, demand unquestioning obedience, and so any resistance to their diagnosis and treatment created enormous anxiety for authoritarian mental health professionals; and professionals, feeling out of control, labeled them “noncompliant with treatment,” increased the severity of their diagnosis, and jacked up their medications. This was enraging for these anti-authoritarians, sometimes so much so that they reacted in ways that made them appear even more frightening to their families.  

    There are anti-authoritarians who use psychiatric drugs to help them function, but they often reject psychiatric authorities’ explanations for why they have difficulty functioning. So, for example, they may take Adderall (an amphetamine prescribed for ADHD), but they know that their attentional problem is not a result of a biochemical brain imbalance but rather caused by a boring job. And similarly, many anti-authoritarians in highly stressful environments will occasionally take prescribed benzodiazepines such as Xanax even though they believe it would be safer to occasionally use marijuana but can’t because of drug testing on their job. 

    It has been my experience that many anti-authoritarians labeled with psychiatric diagnoses usually don’t reject all authorities, simply those they’ve assessed to be illegitimate ones, which just happens to be a great deal of society’s authorities. 

    Maintaining the Societal Status Quo

    Americans have been increasingly socialized to equate inattention, anger, anxiety, and immobilizing despair with a medical condition, and to seek medical treatment rather than political remedies. What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society?

    The reality is that depression is highly associated with societal and financial pains. One is much more likely to be depressed if one is unemployed, underemployed, on public assistance, or in debt (for documentation, see “400% Rise in Anti-Depressant Pill Use”). And ADHD-labeled kids do pay attention when they are getting paid, or when an activity is novel, interests them, or is chosen by them (documented in my book Commonsense Rebellion). 

    In an earlier dark age, authoritarian monarchies partnered with authoritarian religious institutions. When the world exited from this dark age and entered the Enlightenment, there was a burst of energy. Much of this revitalization had to do with risking skepticism about authoritarian and corrupt institutions and regaining confidence in one’s own mind. We are now in another dark age, only the institutions have changed. Americans desperately need anti-authoritarians to question, challenge, and resist new illegitimate authorities and regain confidence in their own common sense. 

    In every generation there will be authoritarians and anti-authoritarians. While it is unusual in American history for anti-authoritarians to take the kind of effective action that inspires others to successfully revolt, every once in a while a Tom Paine, Crazy Horse or Malcolm X come along. So authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”  

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    Marijuana's Midwest Breakthrough: Michigan to Vote on Legalization in November

    Wed, 04/25/2018 - 19:21
    The Wolverine State could be the first to free the weed in the heartland.

    The Midwest could soon see its first state end marijuana prohibition. State officials in Michigan announced Tuesday that a marijuana legalization initiative has enough valid voter signatures to appear on the November ballot. Polls in the state suggest it will win.

    That would be a major breakthrough for legal marijuana. So far, legalization has been limited to West Coast, Rocky Mountain, and New England states, but a victory in Michigan this fall would free the weed in a major Midwest state. Legal marijuana would no longer be limited to the country's fringes, but would have a home in the heartland, and that would lay the groundwork for a more rapid erosion of pot prohibition at the state level.

    There's a chance some other state could beat Michigan to the punch—there are legislative efforts still alive in several states—but legalizing weed at the statehouse has proven to be a frustrating, years-long task. With a ballot initiative, voters accomplish as much (if not more and better) in one fell swoop.

    It's not absolutely official yet—the state Board of Canvassers is set to formally certify the count on Thursday—but the Board of Elections announced Monday that it counted 277,370 valid voter signatures, nearly 10 percent more than the 252,523 required to be approved for the ballot.

    The initiative, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, would:

    • Legalize the possession and sale of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal, recreational use and up to 10 ounces at home.
    • Legalize the cultivation of up to 12 plants, as well as the fruits of the harvest.
    • Tax marijuana sales at a rate of a 10 percent excise tax at the retail level as well as a 6 percent sales tax. The estimated revenues from the taxes are at least $100 million.
    • Split those revenues with 35 percent going to K-12 education, 35 percent to roads, 15 percent to the communities that allow marijuana businesses in their communities and 15 percent to counties where marijuana businesses are located.
    • Allow communities to decide whether they’ll permit marijuana businesses.
    • Restrict purchases of marijuana for recreational purposes to 2.5 ounces, but an individual could keep up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their homes.
    • Allow the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and not the politically appointed licensing board that will regulate the medical marijuana side of the issue, to regulate and license marijuana businesses, including growers, transporters, testers and dispensaries.
    • Set up three classes of marijuana growers: up to 100, 500 and 2,000 plants.

    The initiative was put together by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a combined effort of veteran state activists and the ACLU of Michigan and national drug reform groups, including the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance. It was built on the back of a 2016 initiative campaign that came up just short on signatures.

    The initiative looks well-positioned to win in November, riding as it does pot's ever-increasing wave of popularity. A February poll had support for legalization in Michigan at 57 percent, while a March poll came in at 61 percent. Those are the kinds of polling numbers initiative and referendum experts like to see at the beginning of the campaign because they suggest that even with the inevitable erosion of support in the face of opposition attacks, the measure still has a big enough cushion to pull off a victory.

    Support for legalization has also seeped into the state Democratic Party, with all four Democratic gubernatorial candidates now behind it. Ditto for the state attorney general race, with both Democrats now embracing legalization.

    No mainstream Republicans have embraced the initiative, but there have been reports that state GOP politicians are now considering passing a legalization bill in the legislature in a bid to blunt voter turnout in what they fear could be a Blue Wave election. They worry that the chance to vote for marijuana could produce an electorate more likely to throw them out of office.

    They may well be right. The day after election day, Michigan could wake up to both legal marijuana and a Democratic majority in the state House and/or Senate. Wouldn't that be something?

     

     

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    'Pot Is Over': Cheech & Chong Tell Stephen Colbert They've Moved On -- To More Illicit Substances

    Tue, 04/24/2018 - 06:05
    The legendary stoner duo said marijuana became too mainstream.

    For legendary stoners Cheech & Chong, smoking marijuana was thrilling partly because of the fact that it was illegal and rebellious.

    But as views towards legalized pot have shifted quite dramatically in recent years, and using pot has become more mainstream, the duo has decided it's time to move on from their typical stoner comedies. Instead, they explained, it was time to dive into "edgier territory."

    It all began on Monday night when "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert said he still couldn't stop thinking about the news that former House Speaker and "maple-glazed American" John Boehner had completely changed his tune on marijuana.

    Earlier this month Boehner was appointed to the board of advisors at Acreage Holdings, a multi-state cannabis business that aims to "make cannabis available to any patient who can benefit from safe and reliable access." After serving as a GOP lawmaker who was staunchly opposed to progressive marijuana legislation, he announced that his "thinking on cannabis has evolved."

    "Wow," Colbert said. "In one sentence he came around on three things Republican congressman normally don't: cannabis, evolution, and thinking."

    Colbert explained that he needed to check in with two experts in the field, none other than Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.

    Colbert pointed out that marijuana has essentially became mainstream, and asked if the pair thought that was a good thing.

    "Actually Stephen, we think this news sucks," Marin said. "I mean, pot used to be rebellious."

    Chong chimed in, "Yeah, now crusty old Republicans like John Boehner are into it."

    "Pot's over man!" he added.

    The two said they were not excited about legalization, because it's "boring."

    "The last time I bought weed it was in a store in a strip mall," Marin said.

    "Well where'd you used to buy it?" Colbert asked.

    Marin quipped, "Behind a store in a strip mall."

    Chong announced that the iconic duo was no longer doing stoner comedies. But they reassured Colbert they weren't quitting comedy and were just moving onto "edgier territory stuff, stuff that's still illegal," such as unpasteurized dairy products.

    The two explained they were into other illicit stuff as well, like "importing exotic reptiles," and "taping an distributing football games without the express-written consent of the NFL."

    Watch the full segment below:

    Categories: News Feeds