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California says NO to Pot Delivering Drones

California says NO to Pot Delivering Drones

Californians expecting to get their marijuana delivered via drone should not hold their breath. A new set of regulations will make it harder for California businesses who try to deliver pot in unique ways.

The legalization of marijuana has raised a host of controversy. For one, the question of who has the right to distribute pot is already a complex issue. However, now there is the question of how these products get delivered.

Pot Drones? Should they be allowed?

California legislators are hoping to get these questions answered before issuing dispensary licenses next year. They came together this month to lay down the rules. Ultimately, it was decided that marijuana could NOT be delivered by drones.

The decision was part of the Commercial Cannabis Business Licensing Program Regulations released by the state.

“Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles,” the regulations read, according to Ars Technica.

While deliveries will be allowed, they must adhere to the following guidelines:

Deliveries may be made only in person by enclosed motor vehicle. Cannabis goods may not be visible to the public during deliveries. Cannabis goods may not be left in an unattended motor vehicle unless the vehicle has an active alarm system. Vehicles used for delivery must have a dedicated, active GPS device that enables the dispensary to identify the geographic location of the vehicle during delivery.”

The news will be a major disappointment to the handful of businesses in California who already promised future pot deliveries by drone. One company, MDelivers, said the opportunity to deliver marijuana via drone was “unmistakable.”

Nevertheless, the company CEO did not count on lawmakers forbidding drone deliveries:

After navigating the complexities of medical marijuana permitting, the state and FAA licensing process was actually pretty simple. Nobody can jump in at the 11th hour and rewrite the laws of aerodynamics,” Chris Boudreau, CEO and founder of MDelivers said in a blog post before the regulations were announced.

With the new policies in place, there is no telling how entrepreneurs will get marijuana to their customers. Even if drones are off the table, there are a variety of other new, interesting methods being considered.

We may see a vending machine attached to a self-driving car before we see a drone,” Marshall Hayner, CEO of Trees Delivery, told Mashable.

As California prepares to expand its cannabis market, there continues to be challenges among those against marijuana legalization, especially when it comes to the products crossing state lines illegally. This has already been a major concern for states where port had been legal for recreational use such as Colorado and Oregon.

Surrounding states are trying to address the marijuana diversion issue by requiring pot businesses to track their product from “seed to store.” Time will tell how these sorts of issues will be regulated.

Furthermore, there remains to be conflicting ideologies on whether or not marijuana use is beneficials. While there has been proven benefits of marijuana use, there are also negative effects of marijuana use. Like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused.

As more and more states legalize marijuana, logistical challenges remain such as how the products can be delivered. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, where it’s still classified as a controlled substance. This results in a variety of challenges in states like Colorado where recreational marijuana is legal.

The federal government requires that Colorado and any state that legalizes marijuana work together to prevent:

  • Distribution of marijuana to minors.
  • Transporting marijuana from states where it’s legal to other states.
  • Growing marijuana on public lands.
  • Marijuana possession or use on federal property.
  • Other criminal activity or violence associated with the sale of marijuana.

It is important to remember that like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused. Do not feel shame for feeling out of control of your marijuana use. Stigma should not prevent you from seeking treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out today. Do not wait. Call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

New Florida Bills: One to Protect Addicts and One to Punish

New Florida Bills: One to Protect Addicts and One to Punish

Author: Justin Mckibben

Sometimes new policy can be good. Sometimes, not so much.

The opiate epidemic in America has hit some states with staggering rates of overdose and death. The paralyzing truth gripping the nation today is that more people are dying from drug overdose than homicides and car crashes. Heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers collectively decimate entire communities. People from all over are starting to push officials and lawmakers for more progressive and effective solutions.

Addiction has led to an overdose outbreak that shakes the country to the core, everywhere. Now, Florida lawmakers are pushing for new legislation to try and protect and serve those who suffer from an overdose. One of the first bills on the 2017 agenda is one that hopes to change how law enforcement treats overdose victims.

Although, another bill is trying to turn things in a very different direction.

Florida HB 61 Bill

Florida Representative Larry Lee, a Democrat from Port St. Lucie, has filed a proposal titled HB 61. If approved, this piece of reform would require several new policies for healthcare providers, starting with hospitals.

  • It would require hospitals to screen overdose victims to determine the need for additional health care services
  • Prohibits hospitals from discharging overdose patients to a detox or treatment facility until stabilized
  • Requires attending physician to attempt contact with patients primary care physician, or other treatment providers, who prescribe controlled substances to notify them of overdose
  • Requires hospital to inform medical director of treatment center (if patient is currently in treatment) of the overdose
  • Hospital must inform overdose victim’s family or emergency contact of overdose
  • Must inform contacts what drugs they suspect to have caused overdose
  • Attending physician must provide list of drug treatment providers and information about Florida’s Marchman act and Backer act in case the family or contact wishes to seek legal action to protect the addict

The Big Change in HB 61

Lastly, what is probably the most progressive part of this legislation, is the HB 61 bill would prohibit criminal charges from police officers and prosecutors against the overdose victim for possession of any drugs found on them during the incident.

This final aspect of HB 61 this writer thinks is a big deal, because from personal experience I have seen and heard many stories of individuals not calling for help in the event of an overdose out of fear of prosecution. In some cases people actually die because of the fear of criminal punishment. Adding this kind of measure to the bill is an attempt at eliminating the loss of life due to fear of discrimination. Even if it is not a perfect system, this kind of reform takes first responders and law enforcement a step closer to dealing with addicts who are fighting a fatal illness like sick people instead of criminals.

Florida SB 150 Bill Attacks Fentanyl

From across the aisle we see another push from Republican Senator Greg Steube from Sarasota. The question is, will this push go in the right direction? On December 12, he introduced bill SB 150. This is set to be a direct attack on fentanyl.

For those who are not yet familiar, fentanyl is an incredibly powerful, and lethal, opioid painkiller. It’s medical use is to sedate surgical patients and relieve chronic pain. However, being several times more powerful than heroin, it has crept into the illicit drug trade in various parts of the country. And with its arrival also came a horrifying increase in overdose and death.

This proposal means to make 4 grams or more of fentanyl a first-degree felony through:

  • Manufacturing
  • Selling
  • Buying

November 20, the Palm Beach Post released an analysis of people who died in 2015 from heroin-related overdoses. Out of the 216 individuals profiled in this report, 42% of the cases were found to involve fentanyl. So of course, with Steube coming from a district hit particularly hard by the opiate epidemic, it is logical to want to do everything you can to cut the flow of fentanyl off.

Yet, some say that this kind of strategy is too close to the concept of mandatory minimums.

Is SB 150 Too Close to Mandatory Minimums?

For those who need more clarification, mandatory minimum sentencing laws were a “one-size-fits-all” strategy implemented originally back in 1951 against marijuana, then repealed in the 1970s, and refined in 1986. In 1973, New York State enacted mandatory minimums of 15 years to life for possession of more than 4 ounces of any hard drug.

The idea is that regardless of the individual or the circumstances that a certain crime will have an inflexible punishment across the board. Ever since their introduction, criminal justice advocates have fought these laws, and they have always been surrounded by debate and controversy.

Essentially, some are already saying that SB 150 will ruthlessly make addicts into victims of the already overpopulated prison system. To be clear and fair- the bill does not seem to directly require a specific prison sentence like mandatory minimums, but it’s similar in that it treats every issue related to fentanyl the same.

The issue has already been argued time and time again that non-violent low-level drug offenders have spent excessive amounts of time in prison for possession of a substance. In some cases, an individual will do more time behind bars for possessing a large quantity of drugs than someone who has actually killed someone. Some have come to the conclusion that this tactic just doesn’t work.

The fear with SB 150 is not about the manufacturers or the dealers as much as it is for the consumers. Sometimes individuals purchase drugs on the street believing it to be heroin or another substance without even knowing there is fentanyl in it. So this bill would make first-degree felons out of desperate addicts?

What is Right?

The big question we all face at the end of the day is- what is the right thing to do? How is the best way to handle something that feels so utterly out of hand?

Well, it would seem like its time to finally let go of the archaic stigma. More states and law enforcement officials are turning to compassionate and supportive progress. Many places in America are starting to do everything they can to help people struggling with addiction to find help before it is too late. So why move backwards?

In my opinion, strictly based on what has been presented so far, SB 150 seems dangerous. There are countless advocates out there who say that intensifying the punishment is not how you deter the crime. Especially when it comes to addiction, because this kind of method still suggests it is a moral failing and not a psychological and physical illness.

HB 61 seems to be trying to call health care providers to action and add more accountability on the front lines in the fight against the overdose outbreak. At the same time it seems to move in the opposite direction of SB 150 by trying to limit the persecution of addicts. HB 61 makes more room to help preserve life and offer treatment and solutions. By now we should already know, the solution isn’t a War on Drugs, it is community and compassion.

These are some of the initial responses to recommendations recently made by the grand jury. Every day there are countless people suffering. And every day there are countless more recovering and fighting to help others recover. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Drug Testing The Rich For Their Tax Breaks

Drug Testing The Rich For Their Tax Breaks

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

There is no typo in the title. We are talking about requiring the top 1% to submit to drug testing to get their special tax treatment! As I read this story, I wonder if anyone even honestly entertains this. Not because I think it’s a bad idea, but because it seems so unlikely to actually succeed. Still, there is a Congresswoman who is pushing to make it happen.

So what brought this about, what would it mean for the rich and would it actually change things?

Fanning the Flames

What brought this idea about? Well, for years now Republicans seem to have become obsessed with drug testing the poor. Across the country lawmakers attempted to establish regulations for recipients of food stamps and welfare to make sure those who would be recreational drug users would not get these benefits. Examples:

  • Wisconsin

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker created legislation requiring those who applied for Temporary Assistant for Needy Families (TANF) to answer questions concerning their history of drug use. Based on the answers some would then have to submit to urinalysis to receive social aid.

  • Florida

You may remember we touched on Rick Scott, the Governor of Florida who pushed for a drug testing policy. However, in 4 months there were only 108 applicants out of 4,086 who actually tested positive for illegal drugs. This shows the policies are incredibly inefficient and expensive. Not to mention nowhere near cost-effective.

  • Tennessee

Tennessee had a drug testing policy for welfare and food stamps put in place. But after an entire year the program only denied 30 people out of 28,559 applications based on failed drug testing.

Time and time again trying to impose a rule, which many have described as blatantly discriminatory, to further inhibit the disenfranchised has proven expensive and embarrassing.

Drug Testing Double Standards

After all this, Democratic Representative Gwen Moore has decided she is sick of these one-sided and offensive regulations which she called “criminalization of poverty” being pushed by Republicans. So, to make a bold statement that challenges the double standard these kinds of drug testing policies seem to promote, she proposed a bill called “Top 1% Accountability Act” to level the field.

What is the aim of this ambitious act? Anyone claiming itemized tax deductions over $150,000 per year must pass a urinalysis in order to get full benefits. Moore thinks since the richest Americans take advantage of their tax breaks they should be held accountable for drug use.

But why?

Well, drug testing poor people in order for them to obtain social help is rooted in stigma, enforcing the idea that poor people are addicts. Moore isn’t making this stuff up. A variety of studies analyzing drug testing of welfare recipients show these people are no more likely to use drugs than the general population.

No More Rich VS Poor

In essence, if you want to say that the poor need to be clean in order to get help from the government, why should rich people get a pass for abuse illegal drugs when they ask for lenience on their taxes? If rich people can drug test the poor to save tax-payer dollars, isn’t it only fair that the richest people should be drug tested in order to save on the taxes they pay for all the hundreds of thousands they make?

Plus, if a poor person fails drug testing, there may be a little chunk of money saved from welfare and food stamps, but history has shown it is not even worth the expense of testing. But, if a rich person fails their drug testing they are going to pay a much larger chunk of change into taxes and helping the economy.

Plenty of states have already spent enough on programs to drug test for social assistance that don’t seem worth the effort, so maybe it’s time we move past stigma into a solution. Combating drug abuse and the fight against addiction can start with the right treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Ohio Voting on Legal Marijuana in November

Ohio Voting on Legal Marijuana in November

Author: Justin Mckibben

Last November was a huge period for marijuana reform in America, and with November 2015 right around the corner, the campaigns for pot politics are picking up all over the place. The nation has seen over the last year how reforms in legalization of marijuana have taken form in several states, and we have witnessed the aftermath of those reforms in both positive and negative light.

Presidential candidates looking for office in 2016 are already seeing how big of an issue this is going to be, and swing states are weighing in as to how they will be voting and how that will impact the overall image of legal marijuana in America.

One swing state in particular is showing signs of playing a vital role in the forward momentum of marijuana reform, and on November 3 voters in the Buckeye State will be deciding whether legal marijuana will become a reality, or if it will get pushed out of focus.

Power of Petitions

Earlier this past week the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted confirmed the private investor group ResponsibleOhio had collected 320,267 signatures of registered Ohio voters. That actually puts this particular petition at over 14,676 more signatures than required to qualify for the general election ballot, so it would seem Ohioans are all for putting it to a vote.

Fun Fact: Ohio has a reported 11.6 million residents, meaning that if this measure passed in November, the Buckeye State would be the most populous jurisdiction to legalize marijuana to date.

ResponsibleOhio is just one out of a handful of active groups in the area that are actively pursuing marijuana reform, and it has reportedly no qualms with putting its money where its mouth is. As of now ResponsibleOhio spent $2 million since March on the petition drive to collect signatures and has kept very busy, but apparently they have so much more planned including:

  • ResponsibleOhio pledged to spend an additional $20 million over the next three months leading up to voting
  • Already starting running TV spots
  • Planning future Internet and radio advertising
  • Preparing a door-to-door campaigning
  • Planning a bus tour

Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio is very enthusiastic about the progress the group has already made, and are more confident than ever in their plans to inspire the rest of the state to vote for the change. James stated:

“It’s time for marijuana legalization in Ohio, and voters will have the opportunity to make it happen this November—we couldn’t be more excited. By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities.”

Still in light of the strategies the ResponsibleOhio group is using, many are debating as to whether or not it is a good enough system even the residents of the state who support marijuana legalization can trust.

The Culture of Cultivation

Initially ResponsibleOhio had proposed an oligarchy which would limit the cultivation of the commercial crop to 10 farms that have already been named. Also on the ballot in November there will a response to this proposal in a measure written by the Ohio legislature this past June designed to prohibit “a monopoly, oligopoly or cartel” in Ohio, especially involving any federally controlled substance such as marijuana.

So far over 20 wealthy investors have already purchased farms or put under purchase option including:

  • Reality TV star Nick Lachey
  • NFL player Frostee Rucker
  • Former NBA star Oscar Robertson

So it seems there are those who are confident enough this is going to pass, and it is going to have a huge ripple in the state’s communities and economy.

Secretary of State Jon Husted stated the legislative initiative would take precedence if voters passed both measures, but ResponsibleOhio has disputed his claims. Ultimately the decision will be up to a court, but ResponsibleOhio is not getting itself all wrapped up in that particular piece of red tape just yet.

For the rest of the country, one way or the other this could be an indication of the future of marijuana reform. The topic has many wondering what impact legal marijuana stands to make on the opiate epidemic, and whether or not addiction will see an increase with more people using drugs. Some still speculate it would have the opposite effect, but it seems only time will tell.

While marijuana reform is beginning to seem like it’s shaping the world, those who have suffered a serious addiction should always remember that just because it is legal does not mean you are any less of an addict. Luckily, with drug reform there are also new possibilities to provide better treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135   

America Taking Away DEA Money to Fund Awareness

America Taking Away DEA Money to Fund Awareness

Author: Justin Mckibben

I want to talk about an announcement truly significant as a deviation from the United States’ decades long War on Drugs, which has time and time again been referred to as a failed endeavor of epic proportions.

The president himself has questioned the efficiency of several policies, the nation seems divided at times, and now may have taken a drastic shift in general opinion on how to best handle the mounting drug issue in America.

So when House lawmakers voted Tuesday to strip $23 million from the budget of a besieged Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in favor of committing those funds toward a new agenda focused on awareness and intervention rather than aggressive pursuit and prosecution, it was an enormous alteration. Let me clarify, the House of Representatives chose to take money from the DEA and put that money toward other programs, so how is this changing the game?

Moving the Moneys

The money which once coursed through the veins of a forceful and antagonistic DEA strategy will now be transfused into the heart of the nation’s community initiatives. Some of the outlets the cash-flow will now be diverted to include:

  • Community outreach programs
  • Fighting police abuse
  • Ending the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection programs

Lawmakers took to a simplistic voice-voting system, and the ‘I’’s had it! A tally of 4 amendments were approved for the fiscal year 2016 Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill that would cut into the DEA’s deep pockets.

The outcome isn’t as surprising to some, as the DEA has been catching a lot of heat lately for a number of scandals, including:

  • AllegedDEA-linked killings in Honduras in 2012
  • Allegations of using National Security Agency resources to spy on U.S. citizens and thencovering it up
  • Secretly trackingbillions of Americans’ international phone calls without warrants for decades and the using confidential informants

Not to mention the huge “sex-party” scandal that was gaining a lot of media attention, this was also said to be organized and funded using federal tax-payer dollars to purchase prostitutes.

New Amendments

  1. Amendment 1

Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro from Texas offered the first amendment moving $10 million from the agency’s salaries and expenses to the Department of Justice’s body camera program. Castro said,

“These additional resources will help increase law enforcement accountability, mend police-community relations, and improve the safety of cities and towns across America,”

In light of all the recent tragedies and controversies surrounding police shootings and accusations of police brutality, many suggest this shows that politics are moving in a direction of trying to acknowledge the issue and address the problem.

  1. Amendment 2

Tennessee Democratic Representative Steve Cohen moved for $4 million from the DEA budget to be used to increase funding for rape testing kits. On the House floor, Representative Cohen described trauma imposed upon victims of rape as

“compounded when they know that they’re assailants roam free and critical evidence remains untested.”

At face value this is another awesome ideal, promoting the decision to not only acknowledge but to address rape culture in America, and raise awareness while fighting to properly identify and imprison those committing such horrendous crimes.

  1. Amendment 3

A Democrat from California, Representative Ted Lieu offered an amendment that would allocate a whopping $9 million, taking directly from the DEA’s cannabis reduction and eradication program and assign the money toward initiatives aimed at helping victims of:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual assault

Lieu stated in an interview:

“We need to focus our resources where they are actually needed: standing up for children who have been victims of abuse and assault, not spending taxpayer dollars on going after people who grow marijuana plants in states that have legalized marijuana,”

The man does have a very good point. Especially considering thus far the federal government for the most part seems to be taking a hands-off approach with state marijuana laws, and in support of the idea that fighting drug abuse addiction starts at home with proper education and support for traumatized youths who are speculated to be at an elevated risk of using harmful substances.

  1. Amendment 4

Finally the 4th amendment on the list came from Representative Jared Polis, the Democrat from Colorado. This measure was designed to prevent the DEA and Department of Justice (DOJ) from using federal funds to engage in bulk collection of Americans’ communications records.

But wait… there’s MORE! The day after these 4 amendments were approved lawmakers also passed a number of other amendments to the same funding bill aimed at stunting DOJ’s and DEA’s ability to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana and industrial hemp operations. With legal marijuana quickly gaining ground, the amount of money it would cost to keep going with back and forth battles over these arrests would undoubtly drain the bankroll.

What isn’t surprising… the DEA declined to comment on the amendment votes.

So with all this money being taken away from procedures and policies that have been scrutinized as invasive and ineffective to ultimately be handed over to programs fashioned to distribute tax-payer money toward helping address public health and community issues, one can only wonder if this is one of the immense deviations we have been waiting for that would take us off the beaten path of drug wars and spy-games, leading us to a more socially conscious and forward-moving society.

Some may fear taking money from the DEA is taking the muscle out of the fight against the overdose epidemic, and this has yet to be proven true or false. I personally believe that the future of our country begins with our families and our communities, and that no real permanent change to these persistent problems can be obtained without resilience and support in our homes, and without compassion in our hearts, which is what these programs seem to be aimed at accomplishing.

The War on Drugs is changing, and the nation is turning toward more progressive and positive changes, and that includes offering more treatment for drug addiction. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, and this week it may have just got a little brighter for everyone. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

 

 

 

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