(TMU) — For the first time in U.S. history, a key congressional committee has approved a bill that would comprehensively put an end to the federal prohibition of marijuana.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed HR 3884—the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act by a 24-10 vote, clearing the way for a full vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.
GOP efforts to stall the bill with additional hearings largely failed as two Republicans, Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-CA) sided with Democrats who argued that debate has gone on too long while the enforcement of cannabis prohibition continues to damage communities placed in the crosshairs of the failed “War on Drugs.”
McClintock told Marijuana Moment:
“I don’t sing the praises of marijuana, I simply recognize the limitation of our laws and also the limits on my ability to try and run everybody’s lives for them.”
The MORE Act, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would lead to the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, ending prohibition on a national level and allowing states to move forward with their own policies regulating the commerce and consumption of the plant.
Breaking: MORE Act just passed House Judiciary! All Dems & 2 Reps voted for it. It would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and create a new office tasked w/ providing restorative justice 2 communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition. Big deal!
— Udi Ofer (@UdiACLU) November 20, 2019
In a statement, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) hailed the congressional committee’s approval of the legislation as a major breakthrough in the fight to end prohibition.
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said:
“This is a truly historic moment in our nation’s political history. For the first time, a Congressional committee has approved far-reaching legislation to not just put an end to federal marijuana prohibition, but to address the countless harms our prohibitionist policies have wrought, notable on communities of color and other already marginalized groups.
Opposition to our failed war on marijuana has reached a boiling point with over two-thirds of all Americans, including majorities of all political persuasions, now supporting legalization. Congress should respect the will of the people and promptly approve the MORE Act and close this dark chapter of failed public policy.”
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 authorizes the provision of resources, through a tax on cannabis products, toward addressing the needs of communities who have suffered serious negative impacts from the “War on Drugs,” especially those communities of color that have suffered disproportionate over-policing and mass incarceration.
States would also incentivized to expunge the criminal records of low-level cannabis offenders, removing a barrier that bars access to voting, employment, professional licenses, housing, and even the ability to adopt a child. 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.
🚨 BREAKING: The MORE Act just passed out of committee! This is a HUGE step forward in righting the wrongs of the failed and racist War on Drugs. Let's keep up the fight and get this passed on the floor! #WeWantMORE https://t.co/r7cVqWGX6l
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) November 20, 2019
In his opening remarks, Nadler said:
“These steps are long overdue. For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health. Whatever one’s views on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating users at the federal level is unwise and unjust.”
The chairman added:
“Federal action on this issue would follow growing recognition in the states that the status quo is unacceptable. Despite the federal government’s continuing criminalization of marijuana, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.
I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake, with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.”
While the MORE Act was opposed by many Republicans, some GOP members in opposition are supporting a separate bipartisan marijuana reform bill called the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act. The bill, which lacks social equity elements and the formal removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, would leave policy questions surrounding the plant to individual states.
The bill is likely to be subject to further markups when it reaches a congressional vote. Nadler told Marijuana Moment that he is confident that the legislation will receive a full floor vote before the end of the current congress.
NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:
“The passage of the MORE Act represents the first time that the Judiciary Committee has ever had a successful vote to end the cruel policy of marijuana criminalization.
Not only does the bill reverse the failed prohibition of cannabis, but it provides pathways for opportunity and ownership in the emerging industry for those who have suffered most. In 2018 alone, over 663,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes, a three-year high. Now that Chairman Nadler has moved the MORE Act through committee, it is time for the full House to vote and have every member of Congress show their constituents which side of history they stand on.”
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Fishermen Find $1.5 Million Worth Of ‘Vomit Gold’ In Whale Carcass, Lifting Them From Poverty
A group of fishermen from the war-ravaged nation of Yemen have seen their fortunes radically reversed after stumbling upon a rare treasure in the belly of a sperm whale carcass.
The 35 fishermen had been living in poverty before they discovered the floating whale carcass at sea, which turned out to contain an abundance of ambergris worth over $1.5 million, reports the BBC.
Ambergris is a waxy substance that resembles a rock and is often referred to as “whale vomit.” The substance, which is produced deep in the intestines of the marine mammal, is a byproduct of their eating cephalopods such as squid and cuttlefish. The substance is sometimes found floating in the ocean or washed up on beaches after it is believed to have been vomited out by the whales.
Ambergris has been coveted by humans for a long time for its perceived medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities. It has also been used in the manufacturing of expensive perfumes.
“If you find whale ambergris it’s a treasure,” one of the fishermen said in the BBC News video.
The fishermen’s curiosity was piqued when one of them notified them of the whale and said that it may contain the rare treasure in its bowls.
“As soon as we got close to it, there was this strong smell, and we had the feeling that this whale had something,” the fisherman said. “We decided to hook the whale in, take it to the shore and to cut into it to see what was inside its belly. And yes, it was ambergris. The smell wasn’t very nice but [it is worth] lots of money.”
“It’s like an unbelievable dream. Wonderful feelings I can’t describe,” he added.
Since 2014, the people of Yemen have been on the receiving end of devastating offensives by a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in a campaign that has seen tens of thousands of people killed and Yemen pushed to the brink of famine. In October, the United Nations estimated that some 80 percent of the population – over 24 million people – required aid and protection.
However, the fishermen and their families can now lift themselves from poverty after selling the ambergris for $1.5 million and dividing the profits among themselves equally.
The men are now using their funds to assist the people who helped them as well as fellow needy villagers.
The men also have purchased homes, cars, and boats and plan to continue fishing.
China’s “Artificial Sun” Sets World Record Running At 120 MILLION Degrees For 101 Seconds
Chinese researchers have achieved a new world record after scientists developing an “artificial sun” ran the device on Friday at a record-shattering temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for over 100 seconds.
The experiment was held at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China.
The exercise is a part of the China’s efforts to develop new clean energy sources through the development of next-generation nuclear fusion reactor technology.
Known as the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), the “Chinese artificial sun” managed to generate plasma temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds before scientists also realized a temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius for an additional 20 seconds.
The goal of EAST is to create Sun-like energy using deuterium, a hydrogen isotope that is plentiful in the ocean and can provide a steady flow of clean energy. According to estimates, one liter of seawater contains enough deuterium to produce energy equivalent to 300 liters of gasoline.
China hopes that it can replace fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas with the fusion energy in order to achieve carbon neutrality and a more ecological society.
“It’s a huge achievement in China’s physics and engineering fields. The experiment’s success lays the foundation for China to build its own nuclear fusion energy station,” ASIPP director Song Yuntao said, according to People’s Daily.
The EAST artificial sun is also part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a joint effort by global scientists that includes the input of scientists from China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.
Experts hope that if development proceeds at the current rate, successful nuclear fusion could be achieved within three decades.
After Strong Backlash, NYPD Kicks Robotic Dog “Spot” to the Curb
The New York City Police Department decided this week to stop leasing a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics following a sustained outcry from residents and lawmakers, who denounced the use of the high-tech, four-legged device in low-income neighborhoods as a misallocation of public resources and violation of civil liberties.
When the NYPD acquired the K-9 machine last August, officials portrayed “Digidog”—the department’s name for the camera-equipped, 70-pound robot—as “a futuristic tool that could go places that were too dangerous to send officers,” the New York Times reported earlier this week.
Inspector Frank Digiacomo of the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit said in a television interview in December: “This dog is going to save lives. It’s going to protect people. It’s going to protect officers.”
Instead—thanks to strong backlash from critics, including people who live in the Bronx apartment complex and the Manhattan public housing building where the robotic dog was deployed in recent weeks—the department is returning “Spot,” as Boston Dynamics calls the device, months earlier than expected.
According to the Times:
In response to a subpoena from City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson requesting records related to the device, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.
John Miller, the police department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, confirmed on Wednesday that the contract had been canceled and that the dog had been returned to Boston Dynamics or would be soon.
Miller told the Times that the police had initially planned to continue testing the K-9 machine’s capabilities until August, when the lease had been scheduled to end.
“Robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response. “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?”
And earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, footage of the robotic dog walking through a Manhattan public housing building went viral, sparking additional outrage and prompting a city council investigation.
“Why the hell do we need robot police dogs?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked at the time.
While there are “people living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, take care of their kids, afford child care—all this going on, and now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street,” Bowman lamented.
Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged the police department to reconsider its use of the robot following objections from residents and lawmakers, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.”
“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” Neidhardt said.
Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons
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