Not taking an action that can provide such benefit in fighting this (opioid) scourge is not only callus and inhuman but also morally indefensible!

 

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By:  Msgt. Thomas Tony Vance, Alexandria, Ky.

Callus and Morally Indefensible!

Mercy Health Hospitals in an Op-ed in the May 11, 2017 Kentucky Enquirer talks about the opioid epidemic and calls for a multi-pronged approach in dealing with it. Their program of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment, SBIRT, has screened thousands of patients. Unfortunately they do not give any stats that show the program is effective. They also state we should treat addiction as the disease it is. That is exactly what Nixon’s commission on drugs advised back in the early 70s. Instead we got the war on drugs!

As effective as the Mercy Health approach is, there is a more effective action that can drop the number of opioid overdose deaths by more than half. As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, States with medical cannabis laws see a 25% drop in opioid overdose deaths in the first year after legalizing medical marijuana which grows to 33% by year 6. We can cut our opioid overdose deaths by a third simply by legalizing medical marijuana.

In Colorado which has both medical and recreational marijuana legalization, have seen a drop of 66% since medical legalization was approved in 2012. They had 479 opioid overdose deaths for 2015 and that dropped to 442 for 2016.

Let us compare Kentucky and Colorado. Colorado has 5.5 million people and Kentucky has 4.5 million. Colorado has comparable medical and addiction services and is similar to Kentucky in many ways. The only major difference is Colorado has embraced marijuana legalization and Kentucky, even though medical legalization polls at 80% favorability and recreational at 60%, has rejected legalization. Colorado’s numbers for 2015 were 479 and Kentucky’s were 1278, almost 3 times that of Colorado.

Given the facts of the benefits of marijuana legalization in preventing opioid overdose deaths by more than half, as is the case in Colorado, no one can claim to be serious about opioid addiction and overdose deaths without including cannabis legalization as a tool to fight this epidemic. Cannabis legalization, in reality, has a better record of mitigating this epidemic than any other policy that has been tried or is currently in use! I dare our legislators to name another policy that can drop the number of these deaths by a third. They can’t.

Veterans suffering from chronic pain and Post Traumatic Stress stop taking an average of 8 different prescriptions for pain meds and meds to deal with the side effects of the various medicines they are given when they start using medical cannabis. Veterans claim far better outcomes than their counter parts who stay on the VA cocktail prescribed for pain and PTSD.

We need credible action to fight this devastating epidemic. What we are currently doing is not effective. Adding addiction services will help but it seems the easiest, most effective and credible action we can take right now is simply to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational uses and watch the numbers fall! Not taking an action that can provide such benefit in fighting this scourge is not only callus and inhuman but also morally indefensible!

CONTINUE READING…

…Under (HB 315), a gang can be any three people who share a name, symbol or leader, or who have been identified as a gang by any state or the federal government…

The Kentucky House and Senate are poised to pass a bill this week that is both unnecessary and likely to be costly in terms of both money and human potential.

If it reaches him, Gov. Matt Bevin should veto House Bill 315, the so-called gang bill. It flies in the face of the evidence-based criminal justice reforms Bevin has pushed as governor.

Last June, Bevin appointed his non-partisan Criminal Justice Police Assessment Council, saying he wanted “a smarter, compassionate, evidence-based approach.Senate Bill 120, passed this session to improve employment opportunities for people leaving prison, was a result of CJPAC’s work.

HB 315 didn’t come from CJPAC, and that’s no surprise. There’s no evidence it would reduce gang activity but its broad and vague definitions and heavy-handed punishment provisions will mean that young people who have committed low-level, non-violent crimes could spend a long time in prison with little hope for the “second chance” Bevin so vigorously supports.

Sponsor Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, said HB 315 is based on a similar law in California, prompting Senate President Robert Stivers to ask when Kentucky modeled itself on California.

Good question.

Even more concerning, California’s STEP Act, passed in 1988 to “seek the eradication of criminal activity by street gangs,” hasn’t achieved that goal. A 2009 study of the measure reported the opposite: “harsher sentences for minor gang related crimes may actually increase gang commitment because individuals are forced to join gangs and strengthen their gang ties in order to survive in prison.”

Without question, HB 315 would increase our already staggeringly high prison population — over 23,000 state inmates and a $530 million annual budget. The Corrections Impact Statement on HB 315 estimated the cost at over $38 million over time.

Criminal gangs are real and responsible for crimes that deeply damage our communities. People should be punished for recruiting others into gangs, as they can be under existing Kentucky law.

In the almost 20 years since that legislation passed, there have been 22 convictions under it, including six in 2015 and none in 2016.

There will be more convictions under HB 315 because it casts a wide net in defining gangs and what it takes to tag an individual as a gang member.

Under it, a gang can be any three people who share a name, symbol or leader, or who have been identified as a gang by any state or the federal government. Their “pattern of criminal activity” could be crimes committed by one or more members at any time over five years.

The evidence a gang actually exists includes identification by an informant, a member’s parent or guardian or participation in photos or social-media interaction with gang members.

Think about it: many young people have hundreds of social-media contacts: long-ago classmates, friends of friends, former co-workers and team members. If one of them is identified as a gang member, then so can all his or her “friends.”

The results are catastrophic if the gang label sticks. Judges lose most discretion over sentencing. A Class B misdemeanor such as harassment — now subject to up to three months in jail or simply a fine — would carry a mandatory sentence of 76 to 90 days. Felony charges must be prosecuted for one level more serious when the gang element is present and those convicted must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.

So, a Class C felony that carries one to five years in prison, with possibility of parole with 20 percent of time served becomes a Class B with five to 10 years and a minimum of 85 percent served before possibility of parole.

These mandatory prison terms not only fill up jails and prisons at enormous cost, they also discourage rehabilitation. Consider, a person sentenced to five years with the possibility of parole after a year, is motivated to participate in drug rehab or career-oriented classes.

But with a certain four-plus years inside, motivation shifts away from rehabilitation to survival. As noted in the California study, people join gangs to survive a long term in prison.

“Gang” is another in the long line of frightening terms invoked to bloat the criminal code, fill prisons and drain our treasuries while doing little to make us safer.

Bevin’s right in rejecting this trend. He should stay the course and veto this bad bill.

CONTINUE READING…

Editorial – Geoffrey M. Young

 

 

Dear Editorial Board of the Lexington Herald-Leader:

I was outside the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia carrying a sign that read, “Clinton is a war criminal.” The main chant of thousands of democracy-loving Americans was, “Hell no, DNC, we won’t vote for Hillary.”

Clinton and President Obama became aggressors – war criminals – in 2011 when they destroyed Libya, turned it into a failed state, and created thousands of jihadist terrorists for no sane reason.
Now that Bernie Sanders has endorsed Clinton the warmonger, Jill Stein of the Green Party is by far the best candidate.
Since 1968, my party has been split over the issue of war. Powerful, corrupt Democrats such as the Clintons have merely papered over the split by refusing ever to talk about Washington’s worldwide military empire.

Trump said, “Why should I denounce Putin? Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia, and China, and all these countries?” That’s wiser and more statesmanlike than anything I’ve ever heard Clinton say.

Clinton is violent, aggressive, ignorant, and reckless. She could unintentionally start a nuclear war with Russia, which could wipe out the USA forever. Helping Jill Stein or Donald Trump beat Clinton this fall should be the peace movement’s most urgent priority.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey M. Young

454 Kimberly Place
Lexington, KY 40503
(859) 278-4966

Marijuana Foes Losing Direction in Kentucky

 
With Thomas Tony Vance and Angela Gatewood.
 
Thomas Tony Vance

 

An Informational Town Hall meeting on Medical Cannabis was held on November 8. 2015 in Alexandria, KY sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Campbell County Post 3205 Auxiliary and Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. Having given the keynote speech at that event I was surprised and somewhat curious when immediately afterward the opponents of marijuana legalization organized and held one on December 1, 2015. The ‘Marijuana Summit’ was published as giving both sides of the issue.

 
I attended the event. They offered a ‘Legislative Breakfast’ and all our local legislators were there. They seemed to be very close with the organizers of the event. During breakfast Mr. Tony Coder, the Assistant Director of Drug Free Action Alliance, presided over a lively discussion of the issues. Senator Perry Clark, who attended, responded to the notion that since we already have a heroin problem we don’t need to legalize another drug. Ignoring the obvious attempt to link heroin with marijuana Senator Clark pointed out the report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of a 25% drop in opioid drug overdose deaths in states that have medical cannabis programs and that that percentage is increasing.

The response was a change of subject.

I was struck by the snarky way Mr. Coder regaled us with the story of him breaking California law and lying to obtain a medical marijuana card to prove how easy it was to get one. At this point I was able to get a word in and posed him this query.

California has had medical marijuana since 1996. You say that’s a scam and Californians can access marijuana any time they want. Ok, I’ll give you that, (when I said that he looked surprised, then I continued), however that means the citizens of California have had easy access to marijuana for 20 years. You have to answer this. Where are the bodies? Where are all the bad things you all say will happen if marijuana is legalized?

Another change of subject.

Mr. Coder repeated his easy access claim during the next session on marijuana prohibition history. I quickly pointed out that he proves my point.
Change of subject.

The 3rd session was a speech by Mr. Ed Shemelya, the National Coordinator for the National Marijuana Initiative, a retired police officer who worked extensively with the High Intensity Drug Task Force and gives speeches for a living. He did point out, among a load of numbers that if 2 of the 6 states that will have legalization on the ballot pass it in 2016 it is, as he put it, “all over folks!”
Oh I wish it were true!

I had to leave at the halfway point. The first session after lunch was about hemp which is legal and really only a problem for the helicopter eradication program. The last was about the last 2 Monitoring the Future surveys concerning teen access and use which has not changed significantly with legalization. The interesting thing here is that with the exception of medical need supervised by a Doctor, no State has or will legalize marijuana for anyone under 21, so it’s really a moot point.

They always come back to protecting the children. I wonder? Marijuana has been used by women for menstrual cramps and morning sickness for 4000 years. In all that time there is no anecdotal evidence of birth defects or problems in birth resulting from marijuana use during pregnancy. Given the role we now know the cannabinoid system plays in maintaining good health and the fact of marijuana’s zero toxicity, one can envision a future in which ones Cheerios come, “fortified with THC for your protection”.

The ‘Marijuana Summit’, although misguided was certainly sincere, however we would be better served by them joining in as legalization comes and helping to craft effective policy rather than opposing it completely and having no say in the policy eventually enacted.

 

SOURCE

Kentucky to potientially become buds with bud

Posted by Julia Dake | Jan 28, 2016

Julia Dake, Staff Writer

No pun intended, but I think it’s high time weed became legalized in Kentucky.

Marijuana legalization has made some significant headway over the past few years, now legal for recreational use in four states and medicinal use in 25. Pretty soon another state, namely Kentucky, could be added to the list, either for medicinal and recreational use.

The Cannabis Freedom Act, a bill filed by state Senator Perry B. Clark of Louisville, would repeal Kentucky’s current ban on marijuana and legalize sales to people 21 and over, while those under age 21 could use it with a doctor’s prescription.

Taxes generated from the sale of marijuana would go toward a variety of government programs, including need-based scholarships to Kentucky students pursuing a college degrees. These taxes would also generate revenue for Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK), which provides money for Kentucky’s school districts and grants to police departments to purchase gear.

In addition to the fact that we live in the 21st century, the tax revenue would greatly benefit Kentucky students seeking a college education. Tuition costs rise every year, putting college out of reach for some, and further stressing those already enrolled. So given the chance to alleviate some of the financial burden on students, why are some legislators so hesitant?

Legalizing weed would also promote tourism in Kentucky, seeing that we would be the first state on the Eastern seaboard where recreational marijuana would be legal. This would become an added incentive for people visiting our state, and would help the hospitality and tourism industries flourish. Not to mention, the state is ideally suited to grow marijuana. We used to be one of the top hemp producing states, which suggests that we just might be a pretty good at growing its more heady cousin.

Critics of marijuana legalization argue that not enough research has been done and that legalization could lead to the potential for marijuana monopolies, making it difficult to regulate. While these are valid concerns, proponents of the Cannabis Freedom Act have added clauses that would create a three-tier system, preventing any one entity from monopolizing all the facets of marijuana cultivation and sales. Senator Clark insists that marijuana would be regulated exactly like alcohol is, requiring an ID to purchase through licensed dealers.

The bottom line is Kentuckians are using marijuana every day and a lot of money is changing hands. So why not set it up so a portion of that money goes to help the state?

CONTINUE READING…

no jail for kim davis! “She has a very strong conscience and she’s just asking for a simple remedy, and that is, remove her name from the certificate…"

Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis Jailed After Refusing to Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

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Conviction of conscience is our right as U.S. Citizens in order to influence our Government into governing according to “our” beliefs, the beliefs of every American Citizen.  In this case, the issue is very divided among us. 

Although I believe in the right to marry for everyone, I also believe in living free and being able to assert “Freedom of Speech” and Religion in this Country.  As Americans we have the right to freedom of Religion, and religious liberty as well as “Freedom of Speech“.  However, per wiki, “legal systems, and society at large, recognize limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights.”

So there you have it in a nutshell.  The law which would apply in Kim Davis’ dilemma to try to force her into something she does not believe in, even though it was a known fact that she did not believe in “Gay Marriage” when she was “elected” by “the people” of Rowan County Kentucky.   The voter’s of Rowan County elected her based upon her personal and political beliefs at the time of her election.

Davis served as Rowan County chief deputy clerk, reporting to her mother, Jean W. Bailey, for 24 years.  

As shown below she won the general election with 3,909 votes.  The population was 6,845 at the time of the 2010 U.S. census

Where were all the voter’s at?  Only half of them have spoken.

Evidently the people of Rowan County wanted her to be in office because 3,909 people elected Kim Davis and now the “people” are complaining about how she Is doing her job. 

Rowan County 100% Reporting

Rowan County, Kentucky County Clerk Democratic primary, 2014:

Democratic
Kim Davis
1,817
46.2%

Democratic
Elwood Caudill, Jr.
1,794
45.6%

Democratic
Charlotte Combess
322
8.2%

Rowan County, Kentucky County Clerk general election, 2014

Democratic
Kim Davis
3,909
53.2%

Republican
John C. Cox
3,444
46.8%

KY 2014 ROWAN COUNTY

At the time of her election, Davis told the Morehead News,

“My words can never express the appreciation but I promise to each and every one that I will be the very best working clerk that I can be and will be a good steward of their tax dollars and follow the statutes of this office to the letter.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said the move would set a bad precedent.

“I think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty,”

This case has attracted not only State and National but international news as well.  As an Activist, and after reviewing the Rowan County Kentucky issue surrounding the “Kim Davis” situation again,  in all conscience , I must take her side.  She was elected into the office at a time when gay marriage was illegal and still is according to the Kentucky Constitution.  She was elected in a conservative State in 2014. 

Decided on June 26, 2015 by a Federal case, Obergefell overturned Baker and requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions.  Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015).

Per the Rowan County website Kim Davis

“As county clerk I am responsible for providing many services to the people of Rowan county. These duties include general categories of clerical duties of the fiscal court: issuing and registering, recording and keeping various legal records, registering and purging voter rolls, and conducting election duties and tax duties.”

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Prior to her arrest, Kim Davis said the following on Thursday,         

“God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Davis told the judge before she was taken away by a U.S. marshal. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.”

After Rowan County clerk Kim Davis was taken into federal custody Thursday for repeatedly refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, every deputy clerk but Davis’ son have said they would grant licenses.

Because she is an elected official, Davis, a Democrat, can’t be fired from the position for refusing to comply with the court order. If she is found guilty of misconduct, Davis could be imprisoned for up to a year, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. The state legislature can also vote to impeach her, the paper noted, though that seems unlikely since most Kentucky voters oppose same-sex marriage.

There has been an honest and compliable offer to append the situation.  Per ABC news,

“Kim Davis thinks she has a solution to her problem.

The Kentucky county clerk, jailed for failing to follow a judge’s orders to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, wants her name removed from the marriage certificates, her attorney Matthew Staver told ABC News. “

On September 3, the Anti-Defamation League commented:

No one should ques­tion or chal­lenge Ms. Davis’s                           reli­gious beliefs.

It is therefore my opinion that because she was elected in a time when same sex marriage was illegal in Kentucky and there was no reason for her to believe at the time that same sex marriage would be legal in Kentucky during her reign as County Clerk,

…the fact that she is an elected County Clerk which was put into office by the people of Rowan County,

…That EVERYONE should have a right to express their religious beliefs and right to “Free Speech”,

…and that the no one should have to succumb to a Federal law which goes against their religious or free speech beliefs, or against their Constitutional rights as Citizens of this Country,

I believe that she should be freed immediately and her name REMOVED from the marriage license application in Rowan County Kentucky in order to preserve her personal rights as a Citizen.

As well this will ascertain the rights of the same sex couples to marry which is according to Federal law, yet also preserves HER right to believe otherwise.

As long as her name remains on the marriage licenses it is possible that those who have married under her name in Rowan County may not have a valid marriage license per the Federal Judge.

We need to protect our Constitutional rights as well as States rights, as well as conforming to Federal law.  This is how I agree that it can be accomplished without doing no harm to anyone involved.

It is interesting to note that the Kentucky Constitution defines Marriage as “one man” and “one woman” only.  

In the not so distant future, if we allow our State Constitutions to be preempted by Federal law, the State’s will loose all rights and become like “Counties” instead of “States”.  Are we going to cave in to the Federal Government and let that happen?

Kentucky is one of only four “Commonwealth States”.  This designation, which has no legal meaning, emphasizes that they have a “government based on the common consent of the people”

Is the Kentucky Commonwealth nothing more than a “nomenclature“?

Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 1[1] of 2004, is an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that makes it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriages or civil unions.

The referendum was approved by 75% of the voters.

The voter’s have spoken.

smkrider

Marc Emery on Ron Paul: "The Great Man Has Left The Building"

By Marc Emery – Sunday, November 25 2012

 

Ron PaulMarc Supports Ron Paul

Ron Paul, my hero and great political and moral influence, gave his farewell speech to Congress on November 14th after 23 years of serving as the lonely, often marginalized, voice of reason and stalwart of constitutional principles in the House of Representatives.

In those years Ron Paul always voted against any financing for the drug war and the drug czar’s office. He sponsored bills to legalize possession of marijuana, industrial hemp, and medical marijuana; a Truth in Trials Act, allowing introduction of state medical marijuana laws in federal trials; bills to end the US military empire abroad, Plan Colombia, the Patriot Act (and not voting for it in the first place), and the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia (training of foreign military elite in torture and repression). [See the video clips and more links about Ron Paul’s position and action on marijuana and the drug war in Marc’s December 2011 blog post: “Support Ron Paul for President!“]

Never did Ron Paul ever vote for or support any legislation that restricted our liberties, allowed government secrecy, carried out the war in Iraq, maintained the US military abroad, expanded surveillance of the US people, debased the money, raised taxes, imposed censorship, or any other unconstitutional incursion into the rights of the citizens or the states.

He has been the greatest Congressman in the history of the United States, for he was, and is, the only true patriot to ever have served in the Congress honoring the US Constitution in a devotion that was, thankfully, fanatical and unwavering.

You must watch and/or read Ron Paul’s farewell speech. (Click Here or watch the video below.) It is one of the vital documents of our time. Not a false word is spoken or written. Clearly and plainly, Ron Paul explains what went wrong, why liberty is fundamental to all of human success and progress, asks all the right questions, and lays blame appropriately – at the feet of government and the citizens who enable governments to do so much of the evil that gets done.

When I first read Ayn Rand’s “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” in October, 1979, and changed the philosophical course of my life to reflect those values, I asked my new friends who had introduced me to the book, “Does anyone in politics actually adhere to these principles? ” Yes, he said; “a Congressman named Ron Paul”.

In the US presidential election weeks ago, the media seemed to have a field day denigrating the philosophy of Ayn Rand as part of their smear/criticism of Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Yet Paul Ryan is a warmonger, a devout Roman Catholic, and an adherent of the drug war. No believer in the supernatural and warfare state/Imperial American Empire could ever be a credible acolyte of Ayn Rand.

Ron Paul is the proper standard to compare Ayn Rand, although there are some differences. Ron Paul is a Christian, true, and he is opposed to abortion – though as a man who has delivered 4,000 babies as an obstetrician-gynecologist physician, it’s at least understandable. But importantly, Ron Paul doesn’t believe any woman should ever be punished for seeking or having an abortion. He doesn’t believe the Constitution allows the federal government to criminalize abortion, and that is why he received virtually no support from the anti-abortion conservatives that Rick Santorum did. Ron Paul’s influences are varied, and include Murray Rothbard, Ludwig Von Mises, Frederick Hayek, and Lysander Spooner; in fact, Ayn Rand is only one of many of Ron Paul’s influences. He is a well-read individual.

I believe Ron Paul left Congress because, plainly, Congress is made up of collectivist statists (kind of a redundancy, I know) and 23 years is enough punishment. Now he is going on a hopefully long tour of universities to speak to students and his people about liberty and the nature of man and politics. I wish him well. I hope he runs for President again in 2016.

Ron Paul was always the best friend we anti-prohibitionists have ever had in Congress. Never once did he ever support any aspect of the drug war. Yet most of the legalization movement chose to ignore him or pay him no respect. It makes me sad in my heart to know that most in our community – and society at large – are politically ignorant, biased, and most often plainly ambivalent when it comes to political activism, and when it came time to support Ron Paul in the primaries in 2008 and 2012, most of our people did not heed the call to help this great man, this once-in-a century man.

Even in his farewell address to Congress, he does not forget us.

His first question is: “Why are sick people who use medical marijuana in prison?”

He also asks amongst his many pertinent questions:

“Why can’t Americans manufacture rope and other products from hemp?”

“Why should there be mandatory sentences, even up to life, for crimes without victims-as our drug laws require?”

“Why haven’t we given up on the drug war since it’s an obvious failure and violates the people’s rights? Has nobody noticed that the authorities can’t even keep drugs out of prisons? How can making our entire society a prison solve the problem?”

“Why do we sacrifice so much getting needlessly involved in border disputes and civil strife around the world and ignore the root cause of the most deadly border in the world – the one between Mexico and the US?”

At 78, Ron Paul is still in great health, so I hope he has many years, decades I should hope, to remind us of where we should be going, and how we can get there, and why we must put heart and soul (and money) into that effort.

It’s such a disappointment that Canada has no equivalent giant in politics, no great statesman philosopher politician to give the people a clear vision of liberty and freedom. All we really have is second- and third-rate statists at best, grubby thugs at worse, in institutions under the dictatorial thumb of a soulless Prime Minister and wholly inadequate Premiers.

Ron Paul. The great man of the people has left the building.

CONTINUE TO STORY…