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Attorney General Not Opposed to Legalization of Marijuana Over “Intolerable” Federal Law

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Attorney General William Barr may be many things, but he’s definitely not a die-hard cannabis prohibitionist like his 70-year-old predecessor Jeff Sessions, who infamously said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” a plant he called “a very real danger” equal to black tar heroin.

In fact, Barr is actually in favor of Congress enacting legislation that would allow states to legalize marijuana rather than pursue the antiquated policies of prohibition as codified by U.S. federal law.

The United States’ top cop said on Wednesday that his Justice Department is currently reviewing draft legislation that would end the conflict between federal and state law while also discussing the department’s approach to marijuana enforcement.

Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (or STATES) Act. The bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to extend federal protections to those who comply with state laws legalizing cannabis and would add provisions solidifying states’ rights to determine how the plant is regulated.

Describing the gap between federal and state legislation as “intolerable,” Barr told Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) during a Senate appropriations hearing that, while he would prefer nationwide prohibition, the status quo is untenable.

According to Denver7, Barr said:

“The situation that I think is intolerable and which I’m opposed to is the current situation we’re in, and I would prefer one of two approaches rather than where we are … Personally, I would still favor one uniform federal rule against marijuana but, if there is not sufficient consensus to obtain that, then I think the way to go is to permit a more federal approach so states can make their own decisions within the framework of the federal law and so we’re not just ignoring the enforcement of federal law.”

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use with over 30 states having now followed suit. Ten states, along with Washington, D.C., have freed the herb almost entirely, allowing adults over 21 to partake in the recreational use of cannabis.

Neal Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation, told Marijuana Moment:

“We agree wholeheartedly with [Attorney General] Barr—the conflict between federal and state cannabis law has become untenable and must end.” 

Drug Policy Alliance national affairs director Michael Collins has taken Barr’s comments with a grain of salt while acknowledging that it is “positive that DOJ seems willing to engage on marijuana reform.” However, Collins added that he’s “reluctant to value William Barr’s input on marijuana legislation, just as I never valued Jeff Sessions’s input on sentencing reform legislation.”

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center also found that 62 percent of U.S. residents–including 74 percent of millennials–favor an end to the prohibition of cannabis.

Barr’s comments are the latest sign that the Justice Department is unlikely to squander resources on enforcing federal prohibition laws against the legal cannabis industry under his leadership.

While Barr’s assurances fell short of an open rallying cry to “Free the weed,” cannabis advocates greeted his comments warmly.

A number of other pieces of legislation aim to lift prohibitionist policies from marijuana, including the landmark Marijuana Justice Act sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), that seeks to remove marijuana from the federal narcotics list while reversing the damage caused by the war on drugs, which has impacted poor communities of color in a disproportionate manner.

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Health

Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People

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The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.

Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.

Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.

Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.

Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.

“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”

However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.

In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”

“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

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Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say

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With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.

According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.

The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.

The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.

While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.

Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.

“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.

Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced

However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.

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Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact

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Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.

And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.

Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.

Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.

Death Toll, by Percent of Population

In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.

Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.

The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.

Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.

History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning

While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.

In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.

What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?

Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics

Republished from ZH with permission.

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