(TMU) — Former vice president Joe Biden has made clear in myriad ways that in the Democratic presidential nomination race for 2020, he plans to proudly fly the banner of an old-school dead-center candidate—not too far to the progressive left and not too far toward the conservative right.
However, on the question of cannabis it appears that the presidential hopeful is sharply out of step with the U.S. mainstream. Such was glaringly clear on Saturday when Biden stated that he would not be in favor of legalizing cannabis out of a fear that it could be a “gateway drug” leading users of the plant to harder drugs.
During a town hall in Las Vegas, Biden came out strongly against the federal legalization of cannabis, stating:
“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug.
It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”
The statement prompted groans and audible reactions of exasperation from the crowd as if the assembled participants in the town hall were collectively telling the 76-year-old politician: “OK, grandpa.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a community event at Matt Kelly Elementary School in Las Vegas.
Posted by Fox News on Saturday, November 16, 2019
On the face of it, the assertion sounds more like something one would hear from 1980s “War on Drugs” propaganda like McGruff the Crime Dog than a well thought-out statement from a serious contender for the 2020 race.
Even Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the former top cop in California, has come out in favor of legalization while claiming to have smoked it during her college years, and most Democratic competitors likewise support an end to prohibition. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has said that the “disastrous policies that make up the War on Drugs have not reduced drug use and violent crime.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has endorsed Sanders’ run, immediately tweeted:
“Marijuana should be legalized, and drug consumption should be decriminalized.
These are matters of public health.”
Marijuana should be legalized, and drug consumption should be decriminalized.
These are matters of public health.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 18, 2019
Federal law has classified marijuana as a Schedule I substance, with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defining the plant as a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” with other such examples including heroin and LSD. Rather than freeing the weed, Biden would instead make it a Schedule II drug so that it could be studied further.
Continuing in his typical meandering fashion, Biden said:
“I don’t know enough to know whether it is [a gateway drug] or not, although I’ve done a great deal of work on the drugs side of the issue.”
Biden’s statement also flies in the face of credible research on cannabis, which shows that use of the substance doesn’t lead users toward harder illicit substances.
In a blog post, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states in a report that while “some research suggests that marijuana use is likely to precede use of other licit and illicit substances and the development of addiction to other substances,” this doesn’t mean that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” NIDA then notes that “the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances.”
Another study found that while cannabis does often precede people experimenting with or ingesting other drugs, this was largely due to “boredom”—which is a larger risk factor than recreational marijuana.
However, Biden feels that such research is insufficient. He told the town hall:
“It is not irrational to do more scientific investigation to determine, which we have not done significantly enough, whether or not there are any things that relate to whether it’s a gateway drug or not.”
Biden has long been a champion of anti-cannabis prohibition, including strong criminal penalties for possession included in the 1994 crime bill credited with feeding the rapid rise in mass incarceration and over-policing in poor communities of color. Biden later boasted that he played such a key role in passing the notorious bill that it should be called the “1994 Biden Crime Bill.”
According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of the public in the United States favor an end to the prohibition of cannabis.
The data puts Biden sharply at odds with the anti-prohibitionist mood of most Americans. However, as the Washington Post notes, he may well be in touch with “his peers in the silent generation, who, at 35 percent, have what may be one of the lowest percentages of support for marijuana legalization.”
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.