Author: Shernide Delva
Marijuana reform continues to be a major topic in the presidential campaign and this week, Bernie Sanders went farther than any presidential candidate in supporting marijuana and the fight to end the War on Drugs. Bernie Sanders became the first presidential candidate to propose a lift on the federal ban of marijuana. If passed, the bill would give states the right to legalize marijuana without having to go through the federal government.
The bill was introduced on Wednesday and is modeled after a previous bill proposed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in 2013. It was reintroduced this year as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. The bill would remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list as a Schedule 1 drug.
Drugs like heroin, Ecstasy and LSD are considered schedule 1 drugs and are considered to be the “most dangerous drugs.” Bernie Sanders said during his speech at George Mason University in Virginia that he believed considering a drug like marijuana to be as dangerous as heroin is “absurd.” Bernie Sanders believes that states should be allowed to regulate the sale of marijuana the same way drugs like tobacco and alcohol are regulated and should be able to do so “without the fear of prosecution.”
Legal Marijuana: A Cash-Only Industry
As of right now, states that profit from the legal marijuana industry are not able to use the nation’s banks to do business. Nearly all the banks refuse to take money from marijuana sales or refuse to offer basic checking or credit card services in fear that they’ll be shut down by the federal government. National banks will not do business with marijuana growers, retail shops, medical dispensaries, processors and even employees out of fear of prosecution. If this bill is passed, then this will no longer be a concern.
Until then, the legal marijuana industry is forced to deal with the risks of being a cash only business. Because marijuana remains a federal Schedule I drug, it makes it illegal for financial institutions that depend on the Federal Reserve System’s money transfer to take any proceeds from marijuana sales.
If Bernie Sander’s bill passes, retailers will have less fears about being robbed and businesses will no longer have to show up at the Washington State Department of Revenue with “boxes and suitcases” stuffed with bills to pay their taxes.
Bernie Sanders believes the bill will be a huge step forward in the movement to grow the economy and restore fairness to the justice system. The bill comes a week after Sanders first proposed reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous substance. He argued that marijuana reform is essential to reform America’s criminal justice system
“In the United States we have 2.2 million people in jail today, more than any other country. And we’re spending about $80 billion a year to lock people up. We need major changes in our criminal justice system – including changes in drug laws,” Sanders said “Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That’s wrong. That has got to change.”
A Gallup poll released last month revealed that 58 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalizing marijuana use. Four states have legalized recreational marijuana: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Under the Sanders plan, people in these four states would no longer be subject to federal prosecution for using marijuana if the bill is passed.
Marijuana Reform: The Overall Consensus
Changes to states laws regarding marijuana reform have garnered a controversial reaction. It remains a heavily debated topic of discussion. Presidential candidates have varied opinions on the matter and some are unable to make solid choices in regards to their plan of action. Just last week, Donald Trump changed his view on marijuana reform again after going back and forth on his views several times. Hilary Clinton has stated that she is only in support of marijuana for medical purposes.
Marijuana has been shown to have a variety of health benefits. For example, a recent study showed that marijuana can help treat addiction to stimulants. In addition, many health studies have shown that marijuana is effective in helping patients suffering from cancer and other illnesses.
Still, marijuana is not proven to be 100 percent safe. It can have detrimental effects on developing brains of adolescents and some studies show it can negatively impacts memory. Additionally, just like any other drug, marijuana can be abused and some people even develop a psychological addiction to the substance.
Ultimately, it is up to voters in states that are considering reform to make the final decision. States like Florida and Ohio have come close. Now, Nevada is in midst of voting marijuana reform. Knowing the reasons for reform can make the choice much easier.
Marijuana reform has positive and negative outcomes, but it is ultimately up to voters in states that are considering reform to make the final decision. It is important to know both sides to the argument before deciding how you personally feel. Remember, any substance, legal or not, can be addictive and if you find yourself abusing a substance like marijuana, it is very important that you seek treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Back in September, there was an article about Martin Shkreli, the 32 year old founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who increased the cost of the drug Daraprim from around $450 a bottle to around $22,500. That’s an unbelievable price hike of almost 5,500%! The drug Daraprim is known treating patients with immune deficiencies such as those with AIDS or battling cancers. Raising the costs of drugs like Daraprim puts people who are already vulnerable in an even more vulnerable situation.
When Bernie Sanders found out Martin Shkreli was trying to give him a $2,700 political donation, he was simply not having it. So what does Bernie Sanders do? Sanders rejects the donation and instead decides to take the money and donate it to the Washington health clinic, Witman-Walker, which specializes in treating HIV/AIDS patients in the LGBT community.
“We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed,” said the Democratic presidential hopeful’s spokesman Michael Briggs.
In response, Shkreli said he was “furious” that Sanders pubically rejected his money without discussing his side of the story on the drug pricing beforehand. Shkreli told the Boston Globe that he donated the money to secure a private meeting with Sanders. He was upset that Sanders took the donation without wanting to engage with him for five minutes to understand the issue better.
The donation made headlines when Shkreli posted about his donation during the democratic debate last week. He tweeted “Damn @BernieSanders is my boy with that Kosovo reference. Gets my full endorsement. I did donate to him…”
Shkreli says that if given the chance, he would like to have a meeting with Sanders to explain how he feels raising the price on the medication would pay for life-saving pharmaceutical developments:
“Is he willing to sort of accept that there is a tradeoff, that to take risks for innovation, companies have to invest lots of money and they need some kind of return for that, and what does he think that should look like?” Shkreli said. “And quite frankly, what I’m worried [about] is that he doesn’t have an answer for that, that he’s appealing to the masses, that he’s just kind of talking out of his rear end so that he gets some votes.”
Considering how public Shkreli was about his donation, it is surprising how “furious” he is by Sander’s public rejection. During the debate, Sanders even mentioned that the pharmaceutical industry would be at the top of his list of “people who do not like me.”
When Shkreli found out that Sanders rejected his donation he said: “Instead of having an intelligent discussion on healthcare Bernie Sanders would rather hold his hands over his ears and be a demagogue.”
But Sanders is not the only one to have rejected Shkreli’s money-making tactics. Hilary Clinton also accused him of price gouging. Even Donald Trump, leading the Republican polls for presidency, stated that Shkreli was a “spoiled brat.”
Believe it or not, this story gets even more unusual. After Shkreli finds out the Bernie Sanders rejected his donation, he apparently was so angry that he broke his wrist? He posted several tweets after the incident.
The first one, he stated “SO ANGRY AT @BernieSanders I COULD PUNCH A WALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1”
Apparently he did punch the wall cause a few hours later on twitter he posted, “Ugh, does anyone know how to treat a wrist fracture without going to a hospital?”
Then two hours later, he posts a picture of a fractured wrist x-ray stating “This is such bullshit.”
However, it seems like the whole thing was a ploy for media attention. Soon after, Shkreli posted a picture of him playing guitar and he was called out by several twitter users who discovered the x-ray photo was actually a stock photo of a fractured risk and not real.
This whole story is turning into a huge mess but the fact that Sanders did not accept the donation definitely sends out the message against price gauging in the pharmaceutical industry. The more the message gets out there, hopefully price gauging becomes an issue talked about more in the upcoming election. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-561-221-1125
Author: Shernide Delva
If you watched the Democratic presidential debate, you saw five candidates tackle issues ranging from abortion, gun laws, climate control, and finally putting an end to the Hilary Clinton email debacle. Interestingly enough, recreational marijuana made its way into the discussion and Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton went head to head as they were the only two candidates who got an opportunity to weigh in on the subject.
Bernie Sanders’ Vote on Legalizing Marijuana
On Oct. 13, Bernie Sanders became the first presidential candidate from a major political party to say he would support the legalization of recreational marijuana if given the chance.
Bernie Sanders was asked hypothetically if he would vote to legalize marijuana if he were a citizen of Nevada. The question was prompted by Nevada’s upcoming ballot measure on legalizing recreational marijuana.
Berners replied, “I suspect I would vote yes.”
His answer resulted in a brief applause break before he continued on:
“And I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country, too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana.
I think we have to think through this war on drugs, which has done an enormous amount of damage. We need to rethink our criminal justice system, and we have a lot of work to do on that.”
Hillary Clinton on Legalizing Marijuana
When the question was passed to Hillary Clinton, she gave a far less concise answer.
When asked if she would support recreational marijuana, Clinton said, “No. “
She continued –
“I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today.
I do support the use of medical marijuana and I think even there, we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.”
To sum it up, Bernie Sanders supports marijuana because he feels that drugs are over criminalized and Hilary Clinton isn’t quite sure how she feels about marijuana being used recreationally but she is open to the idea of medical marijuana with more research to prove efficacy.
The tone of the responses shows how far the effort to legalize marijuana has come. Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, said in an article how Sander’s comment was a major shift in direction for the way we view politics. He explained
“As a point of reference, in 2008 no major candidate even supported decriminalization when asked in a debate. […] Legalization is at the forefront of mainstream American politics, and politicians are starting to treat it as such.”
Many believe that Sanders won against Clinton on this portion of the debate on marijuana reform. The audience responded favorably to his opinion on marijuana legalization. However, this is not the first time Sanders has come out stating his opinion on the matter of decriminalizing marijuana. During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” interview earlier this year, Bernie Sanders stated he was open to the use of medical marijuana and would look to Colorado to see how recreational marijuana legalization would play out over the course of a few years. Either way, only time will show how marijuana reform will play into the election within the next few months.
Although marijuana is becoming legal both recreationally and medically, it is important to remember that everyone handles drugs differently and if you feel you are falling into an addictive cycle, it does not matter if the drug is legal or not. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or alcoholism, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
Author: Justin Mckibben
Again, this Bernie Sanders character has my attention.
Given the recent news about outrageous pricing spikes in various stories, including the big scandal involving the AIDS and cancer medication Daraprim and the progressive price surges with the life-saving anti-overdose medication naloxone, this bit of news about a new bill Senator Sanders is pushing for makes me interested to see just how assertive this politician aims to be with fighting Big Pharma.
Sanders has already expressed his interests in shifting the focus from prosecuting low level drug offenders to prosecuting white-collar executives and their Wall Street misconduct that has cost the country millions upon billions. Now he is taking another jab at the powers that be by introducing a bill that would be used to hold Big Pharma accountable, and require more data to support pricing.
The Bill for Transparency
The bill was introduced in early September by Bernie Sanders along with Maryland Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, who also stepped in to comment on the issue with naloxone pricing, and it would call for greater transparency and cooperation from Big Pharma companies. So how does this bill change anything?
Currently the law states prohibits Medicare’s prescription drug program from negotiating prices with the drug makers, but with the new bill there would be a big impact on the prescription drug program by empowering Medicare to make this effort to negotiate the prices for drugs.
This is probably one of the biggest pieces of the proposed legislation. It cites an estimation released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research which suggests the Medicare prescription drug program could save between $230 billion and $541 billion over 10 years by directly negotiating prices with Big Pharma drug marketers.
Next the bill would require the Big Pharma masterminds to share their data and back up their prices with proof of expenses, demanding that they submit annual reports to the federal government with information about all factors affecting their price structure, including research and development costs which seems to be most drug companies first cop-out.
Drug companies would also have to provide full disclosure of any federal benefits they have received, including tax credits and pricing information about drugs sold overseas.
Another big change is one idea advocated for in the past by Republican Senator John McCain from Arizona, which would give consumers the ability to import cheaper medications from Canada to avoid the Big Pharma price hikes if need be.
Speaking with Sanders
The thing I respect most about the last few things I’ve read regarding Bernie Sanders and these situations is his outspoken opinions on how the people deserve to be protected from big businesses by the powers they put in place to govern the nation. In this move for action Sanders stated his goal was to implement “prescription drug policies that work for everybody, not just the CEOs of the pharmaceutical industry.”
When speaking with the Wall Street Journal earlier this month about his bill for the reform on Big Pharma pricing, he stated:
“There is no rational reason why Americans should pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”
I couldn’t agree with him more on this topic.
As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it makes no sense that American citizens have to suffer ridiculously high price gouges for prescription medications they would otherwise suffer and possibly die without. I mean, I’m no economics major or anything, but it just doesn’t add up.
Government regulation of these Big Pharma price brackets is something we need to happen, in one way or another, so even when prices go up at least there is sound evidence to support the price-tag besides blanket statements of ‘manufacturing costs’ or ‘distribution’ or ‘research and development.’
Providing healthcare support and effective treatment is one way we as a society can address issues with drug policy and ultimately substance abuse, but we have to be willing to take big steps to make real changes. Just like in recovery, there has to be action. So while politicians push for reform, we need to start seeing some results.
Drug addiction and prescription drug abuse have a pretty serious relationship these days with Big Pharma and their methods, and the support up until the opiate epidemic has been tenuous at best. Now as we look closer at the Big Pharma side of it, we also need to move toward effective recovery from drug and alcohol dependence, and that takes a genuine effort. Be willing to make a difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
We have seen the cost of the ‘war on drugs’ in America. We have also seen the economy suffer, as the cost of living rises and the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ swells, accompanied by the whispers of crooked deals and executive injustices. Brokers breaking all the rules are like businessmen with bloody hands, and it seems like the stock in human life sinks under the weight of the almighty dollar.
It’s time the focus shifted from hunting down and demoralizing drug addicts, to showing the law goes both ways and CEO’s can become convicts too.
I personally don’t put too much stock in politicians these days, but this Bernie Sanders character is constantly being brought to my attention for having some pretty interesting points of view, and he just made a pretty powerful statement that got me thinking. The presidential candidate has had a sturdy track record of calling out the hypocrisy of the United States ‘war on drugs,’ along with the industrialized and overpopulated prisons, and the criminal justice system.
Most recently, he got my attention when he expressed his opinions on the imbalance and injustice we witness in America as far as punishing people for drugs, while allowing criminals of corporate corruption to continue leaching off the nations limping economy.
War on White-Collar Crime
Just last week the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced new plans to initiate a war on white-collar crime. The DOJ also pledged to finally prosecute those responsible for misconduct on Wall Street, which ultimately poured gas on the fire that created the 2008 financial crisis.
In a memo released last week the DOJ claimed it would pursue action that would hold both corporations and individual employees accountable for the crimes that drove the country into recession, setting new guidelines for addressing corporate crime.
But according to Senator Sanders, from Vermont, it’s a little late for that. And in all reality he may be more right than we think. The law would state that the statute of limitations has already expired for most of the misconduct that took place leading up to the recession back in 2008, which would mean it is not one of those ‘better late than never’ scenarios.
Those with white-collars could be facing stricter penalties, but how much stricter are we really talking? How much of a difference will this memo make? I guess only time will tell.
Sanders Standing Against Stigma
What I see from Sander’s reaction to this announcement is an attempt at exposing the true injustice created by stigma when it comes to drugs and drug addiction, and it speaks to how the general conception is changing in America. Again, a big point he makes is the way we have let executives slip under the radar, and it almost feels like its been hidden behind the smoke screen of drug wars. In a recent statement Sanders stated:
“One of the biggest mistakes our government made after the financial crisis was not prosecuting the people responsible for the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior that crashed our economy and ruined the lives of millions of Americans. It is not acceptable that many young people have criminal records for smoking marijuana, while the CEOs of banks whose illegal behavior helped destroy our economy do not.”
When I first read that, it was actually pretty inspiring stuff. To read a politician say that not only is it not fair, but it is NOT ACCEPTABLE for young people to have criminal records for low-level and non-violent drug offenses… criminal records that could determine the course of the rest of their futures and undermine their potential to contribute to changing the world… while those who deliberately, and ILLEGALLY, drained the life out of our American economy for millions upon billions to line their own pockets can shrug it off and wash their hands of it.
In the years since the climb of the financial crisis a number of banks have pleaded guilty to felony charges, which may seem fair, but individual bankers who were involved in the activity that caused it all have avoided all criminal prosecution. Nothing happened. They admitted to crimes that shook the economy of a country to its core, but don’t even get punished as bad as the average citizen for a minor possession charge?!
To put that in perspective, more than 2.2 million Americans have been put behind bars over the same course of time, and a bewildering percentage of them are serving time that will definitively alter their ability to have a quality of life once released for low-level felonies involving marijuana (which is quickly becoming legalized in several states) and other drugs.
Apparently this isn’t the first time Sanders has took a stand against the drug laws and the way we have addressed drug use in America. Last month he tweeted:
“There is no question that the war on drugs has been a failure.”
That is not too far removed from what current president Barack Obama himself has said about the way the system has worked against the American people who struggle with substance abuse instead of working to improve the lives of these individuals and ultimately their communities.
How can we as a country have any real claim to social consciousness if we aggressively persecute and marginalize people who are suffering from addiction, while allowing thieves in suits selling stocks to live lavishly off the profits of bankrupting the nation… which if you take the time to think about it actually contributes to poverty and desperation; circumstances often leading to drug addiction and other drug related issues.
In a system where the rich and vicious wolves of Wall Street tore apart our financial structure by breaking the laws that govern the worth of the dollar, we should turn our attention toward treating the addicts and the downtrodden instead of punishing them, and we should hold accountable those who orchestrated and profited from the recession that helped create the climate and the culture where addiction was able to thrive.
Addiction destroys lives, and while the war on drugs may have let us down in a lot of ways, there is always hope for a better future. Anyone can make a difference in their own life just by reaching out and getting the help they desperately need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135