(TMU) — A bill that could see marijuana comprehensively legalized on a federal level has been scheduled for a vote on Wednesday or shortly thereafter, marking the first-ever vote to put an end to federal cannabis prohibition.
The legislation, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and sponsored by Rep. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as S.2227, enjoys bipartisan support and would lead to the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, ending prohibition on a federal level and allowing states to move forward with their own policies regulating the commerce and consumption of the plant.
The text of HR3884 lays out the purpose of the proposed law, which would be to “decriminalize and de-schedule cannabis, to provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, to provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.”
Cannabis legal reform advocates have hailed the scheduled vote as a key step toward advancing justice for those affected by the failed “War on Drugs,” which has for decades fueled over-policing and mass incarceration, ripping apart the social fabric for poor communities and people of color across the United States.
In a blog post, Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), wrote:
“This has never happened in the history of our country and it is thanks to all the time and effort folks have put in for DECADES. The MORE Act isn’t just some half measure either. It contains many of the important reforms we have always wanted to see at the federal level.
Not only will it remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act entirely, but it will also require federal courts to expunge prior marijuana-related convictions, provide grants and funding to communities most harmed by our failed war on cannabis consumers, and finally allow physicians affiliated with the Veterans Administration to recommend medical cannabis to veterans.”
The removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I narcotic would mean that the plant would no longer be defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” in league with LSD and heroin.
The act also includes a number of provisions that would seek to undo the historical damage wrought by the failed “War on Drugs,” including injecting grants and funding into those communities which faced the most damage from the prohibitionist campaign.
States would also be incentivized to expunge the criminal records of low-level cannabis offenders, removing a barrier that often bars access to employment and housing. The legislation would also provide for re-sentencing and block federal agencies from denying public benefits and security clearances over past cannabis convictions, while immigrants would no longer be denied citizenship over marijuana.
The Small Business Administration would also support entrepreneurs and businesses who are trying to gain a foothold in the fast-emerging and profitable legal cannabis industry.
In a press release, Rep. Nadler called on Congress to pass the bill. He said:
“Our marijuana laws disproportionately harm individuals and communities of color, leading to convictions that damage job prospects, access to housing, and the ability to vote.
Recognizing this, many states have legalized marijuana. It’s now time for us to remove the criminal prohibitions against marijuana at the federal level. That’s why I introduced the MORE Act, legislation which would assist communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of these laws.”
For too long, our marijuana laws have disproportionately harmed individuals and communities of color. As more states legalize marijuana, it is time for Congress to decriminalize it.
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) November 18, 2019
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Awesome New Infrared Goggles Could Help Blind People ‘See’ Surroundings
People who are blind or deal with low vision face a unique number of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from accessing published material to holding a job or living on one’s own.
However, emerging infrared technology under research could help the blind and visually impaired navigate the world around them using a pair of innovative goggles.
In new research recently published and yet to be peer-reviewed, Manuel Zahn and Armaghan Ahmad Khan at Germany’s Technical University of Munich explored how their 3D camera and haptic feedback armband can assist people with low vision.
“Even in the present era, visually impaired people face a constant challenge of navigation,” the pair wrote. “The most common tool available to them is the cane. Although the cane allows good detection of objects in the user’s immediate vicinity, it lacks the ability to detect obstacles further away.”
The two students’ design deploys two infrared cameras placed in a 3D-printed goggles prototype to get a stereoscopic view that is transformed by a small computer into a map of the user’s surroundings. The infrared gear also works in the dark. The armband then uses 25 actuators arranged in a grid that vibrates when users come close to objects while also assisting them in their orientation. As users walk near obstacles, the vibration intensity of the actuators increases.
In tests, subjects enjoyed roughly 98 percent accuracy while getting through obstacle pathways, with all five participants completing the course in their first run. After two additional runs, the volunteers were able to navigate the obstacles more rapidly.
Zahn and Khan frequently cited Microsoft’s Kinect motion detection system for the Xbox in their study, but the pair are confident that their own setup will be far smaller, cheaper and less conspicuous than the gaming device.
The new headset could offer an interesting opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to clear the myriad obstacles they face when performing regular tasks or navigating the world around them.
In World First, Man Receives Heart Transplanted From Gene-Hacked Pig
In a groundbreaking world first, a 57-year-old man in the U.S. has become the first person in the world to receive a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.
The revolutionary procedure’s apparent success offers hope to hundreds of thousands of people who are struggling with failing vital organs amid scarce supplies of human organs.
The patient, David Bennett of Maryland, is in good shape days after the experimental seven-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The surgical procedure is the result of years of fervent efforts by researchers to develop pigs whose organs would be compatible with the human body, and was made possible by recent advances in gene editing and cloning technology. The heart transplant was preceded months ago by a successful kidney transplant in New York which also used an organ harvested from a genetically engineered pig.
“This is a watershed event,” said David Klassen, chief medical officer at the United Network for Organ Sharing, reports New York Times. “Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure.”
The University of Maryland doctors received a special dispensation from regulators to carry out the procedure due to the fact that Bennett’s death was certain in the absence of a transplant.
Surgeon Bartley Griffith, who took part in the transplant, expressed pride in taking part in bringing the world “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis,” reports BBC. Roughly 17 people die every day in the U.S. while awaiting transplants, which are in extremely short supply.
“People die all the time on the waiting list, waiting for organs. If we could use genetically engineered pig organs they’d never have to wait, they could basically get an organ as they needed it,” said Christine Lau, Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“Plus, we wouldn’t have to fly all over the country at night-time to recover organs to put them into recipients.”
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