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5 States Legalize Recreational and Medical Weed, Making 2020 an Epic Year for Cannabis Reform

2020 is the “biggest year yet” for cannabis reform.

Elias Marat

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Five states have legalized cannabis for recreational and medical purposes, showing that prohibition is increasingly in tatters as drug reform efforts hit a high point across the United States, making 2020 one of the biggest years yet for cannabis reform efforts.

On Election Day, a majority in New Jersey, Arizona and Montana voted yes to approve ballot measures making recreational use legal. Meanwhile in South Dakota and Mississippi, voters have also approved cannabis for medical purposes.

Voters in New Jersey approved the measure to make the Garden State greener come Jan. 1, but legislators are now being tasked to draft and pass legislation that would hammer out the details of how the new policy will actually be implemented.

Lawmakers will also have to pass another measure that will establish the legal weed market. Cannabis sales will be taxed at 6.625 percent, along with an additional 2 percent tax from local city governments.

The approval of the measure throws down a gauntlet for politicians in neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania, where lawmakers have faced a logjam in passing legalization measures. Legislators fear that if they don’t take action, they risk losing a competitive edge to New Jersey in potentially one of the largest cannabis markets in the country, reports The New York Times.

In Arizona, cannabis was also comprehensively legalized for adults aged 21 and older, who will be allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of the plant. Under Proposition 207, the state will establish a licensing system as soon as March, reports AZ Central. Up to six plants will also be allowed for people to grow at home.

The state’s 120 medical cannabis dispensaries will now be allowed to sell cannabis to anyone over 21, while the new law also includes social equity measures granting licenses to people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Those convicted of certain crimes related to the plant can also seek the expungement of their records.

In Montana, two cannabis-related measures were passed that comprehensively legalize the recreational use of the plant, reports Great Falls Tribune. However, one of the measures levies a whopping 20 percent tax on the plant while granting individual counties the ability to prohibit dispensaries, while the other measure sets the minimum purchasing age at 21. Possession of up to 1 ounce is allowed under the new rules.

People with cannabis-related convictions can also seek resentencing or expungement for past offenses.

South Dakota’s voters also approved a joint initiative that gives the go-ahead to medical cannabis as well as recreational use of cannabis. Amendment A gives adults 21 and over the ability to possess and distribute up to an ounce of herb, while medical patients with prescriptions can have up to 3 ounces, reports KITV.  

In Mississippi, a massive 75 percent of the electorate approved medical cannabis in the state, which will grant doctors the ability to prescribe the plant to people with any of 22 health conditions, including HIV, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and sickle-cell anemia, reports the Clarion Ledger.

According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of the public in the U.S. favors the legalization of cannabis—a sure sign of the anti-prohibitionist mood of most Americans, especially millennials. For many, the sentiment is less about politics or partying, and more a simple matter of wanting to put an end to the failed “War on Drugs” and its disproportionate and unjust impact on poor communities of color.

Cannabis reform advocacy group NORML rang in the new year calling 2020 the “biggest year yet” for reform, and these new states that have legalized recreational or medical herb join twenty-five other states and the District of Columbia that have either legalized or decriminalized possession and use of the plant for adults over the age of 21, while medical cannabis was legal in 33 states.

Voters in New Jersey approved the measure to make the Garden State greener come Jan. 1, but legislators are now being tasked to draft and pass legislation that would hammer out the details of how the new policy will actually be implemented.

Lawmakers will also have to pass another measure that will establish the legal weed market. Cannabis sales will be taxed at 6.625 percent, along with an additional 2 percent tax from local city governments.

In Arizona, cannabis was also comprehensively legalized for adults aged 21 and older, who will be allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of the plant. Under Proposition 207, the state will establish a licensing system as soon as March, reports AZ Central. Up to six plants will also be allowed for people to grow at home.

The state’s 120 medical cannabis dispensaries will now be allowed to sell cannabis to anyone over 21, while the new law also includes social equity measures granting licenses to people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Those convicted of certain crimes related to the plant can also seek the expungement of their records.

In Montana, two cannabis-related measures were passed that comprehensively legalize the recreational use of the plant, reports Great Falls Tribune. However, one of the measures levies a whopping 20 percent tax on the plant while granting individual counties the ability to prohibit dispensaries, while the other measure sets the minimum purchasing age at 21. Possession of up to 1 ounce is allowed under the new rules.

People with cannabis-related convictions can also seek resentencing or expungement for past offenses.

South Dakota’s voters also approved a joint initiative that gives the go-ahead to medical cannabis as well as recreational use of cannabis. Amendment A gives adults 21 and over the ability to possess and distribute up to an ounce of herb, while medical patients with prescriptions can have up to 3 ounces, reports KITV.  

In Mississippi, a massive 75 percent of the electorate approved medical cannabis in the state, which will grant doctors the ability to prescribe the plant to people with any of 22 health conditions, including HIV, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and sickle-cell anemia, reports the Clarion Ledger.

According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of the public in the U.S. favors the legalization of cannabis—a sure sign of the anti-prohibitionist mood of most Americans, especially millennials. For many, the sentiment is less about politics or partying, and more a simple matter of wanting to put an end to the failed “War on Drugs” and its disproportionate and unjust impact on poor communities of color.

Cannabis reform advocacy group NORML rang in the new year calling 2020 the “biggest year yet” for reform, and these new states that have legalized recreational or medical herb join twenty-five other states and the District of Columbia that have either legalized or decriminalized possession and use of the plant for adults over the age of 21, while medical cannabis was legal in 33 states.

Animals

Police Rescue Dogs Trapped In Car on Sizzling Hot Day, Owners Complain About Broken Window

Elias Marat

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Police in the UK acted quickly to save a two dogs locked inside a car in sizzling hot temperatures by smashing open a window, upsetting the car’s owner over the damage.

Officers responded Sunday to reports that a beagle and another dog were trapped in a car parked in the seaside British city of Brighton on a day of boiling heat.

In video captured of the incident, an officer can be seen jamming his baton through a rear window before finally shattering it to free the pooches.

This prompts the car alarm to go off as the car’s owners can be seen rushing toward it, upset over the police intervention.

A woman, standing with her shocked family, says: “You broke my window out!”

One of the officer responded: “It’s a hot day. You shouldn’t be leaving the dog in the car in this weather.”

The incident happened on a day when people across the region flock to the seaside resort city to dip into the beaches amid surging hot temperatures.

The onlooker who filmed the incident noted that the owners seemed unaware of the dangers posed to their pets by weather conditions.

“Where they had parked there is just no shade,” they told The Sun. “It’s directly on the seafront in 25°C (77°F) weather outside – I’ve got no idea what it was inside the car.”

The family was indignant over what they claim was an overreaction by the police.

“At first it was ‘what the f*** are you doing, why did you break my car window? I was only gone for 10 minutes,’” another witness explained.

“The bloke obviously thought he was completely in the right,” they added. “He didn’t really seem to have much empathy.”

According to UK animal welfare group RSPCA, outside temperatures of 22°C (71°F) can reach a brutal 47°C (116.6°F) inside a car within an hour.

“Police officers attended and tried to get a contact number for the owners of the car but were unable,” a Sussex Police spokesperson said. “Officers had no choice but to smash the side window to gain access and a kind member of the public donated a bottle of water.”

Authorities added that the officers let the pet owners off with a stern warning, without ticketing the family or separating their dogs from them.

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Scientists Prove What Causes Aurora Borealis for the First Time

Elias Marat

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Since the dawn of time, humans have been mystified by what causes the aurora borealis or northern lights. However, a group of scientists have finally uncovered what causes the dazzling lightshow that has captivated people for so long.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have proven that the shimmering auroras are the result of powerful electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms, according to a newly published study.

According to the study, phenomena known as Alfven waves propel electrons toward Earth and cause the particles to produce the brilliant display of northern lights seen in the higher latitudes of our planet,

“Measurements revealed this small population of electrons undergoes ‘resonant acceleration’ by the Alfven wave’s electric field, similar to a surfer catching a wave and being continually accelerated as the surfer moves along with the wave,” Prof. Greg Howes, a co-author of the study, told CNN.

Scientists have long understood that the aurora was the likely result of electrons surfing across the electric field, at least since the theory was introduced in 1946 by Soviet scientist Lev Landau.

However, the University of Iowa professors were able to finally put the theory to the test through a simulation at a lab at the Large Plasma Device (LPD) in the Basic Plasma Science Facility of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Using a 20-meter-long chamber to simulate the magnetic field of the Earth through state-of-the-art magnetic field coils, scientists were able to generate plasma similar to that which exists in spac.

“Using a specially designed antenna, we launched Alfven waves down the machine, much like shaking a garden hose up and down quickly, and watching the wave travel along the hose,” said Howes.

While this didn’t result in the type of auroras we might see in the sky, “our measurements in the laboratory clearly agreed with predictions from computer simulations and mathematical calculations, proving that electrons surfing on Alfven waves can accelerate the electrons (up to speeds of 45 million mph) that cause the aurora,” Howes noted.

Scientists across the country were elated by the results of the experiment.

“I was tremendously excited! It is a very rare thing to see a laboratory experiment that validates a theory or model concerning the space environment,” said Patrick Koehn, a scientist in the Heliophysics Division of NASA.

“Space is simply too big to easily simulate in the lab,” he added.

Researchers are hopeful that a greater understanding will allow forecasters to better understand weather conditions in space.

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Arizona Restores Gas Chamber Where ‘Nazi-Era’ Gas Will be Used for Executions

Elias Marat

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Arizona has restored an old gas chamber retired during the 20th century in a bid to continue executing its inmates on death row, renewing criticisms about capital punishment and a method of execution the United States once rejected for being excessively cruel and unusual.

The gas chamber, which hasn’t been operated since it executed its last inmate 1999, has been refurbished to ensure that it can properly function as an option for death row prisoners to choose, reports Associated Press.

The move comes after the Grand Canyon State made a large purchase of ingredients to manufacture its own hydrogen cyanide gas.

The same chemicals Arizona plans on using were also used by the Nazis during the holocaust under the brand name Zyklon B. News articles about Arizona’s plans have provoked outrage among survivors of Nazi death camps in Germany and Israel.

“Whether or not one supports the death penalty as a general matter, there is general agreement in American society that a gas devised as a pesticide, and used to eliminate Jews, has no place in the administration of criminal justice,” wrote the American Jewish Committee said in a statement. 

The federal government has also used the gas in past executions of prisoners.

Arizona’s revival of the old execution method comes as prison authorities across the country continue to grapple with problems over another form of execution decried by critics as brutal, namely the use of lethal injection.

Once depicted as a more humane and painless form of killing prisoners, lethal injection has often led to slow, torturous and excruciating deaths. Additionally, many of the chemicals used in lethal injection drugs are impossible to attain due to the refusal of drug makers to continue manufacturing them – effectively cutting off the “choices” given to death row inmates about their preferred method of death.

In South Carolina, a recently-passed law would see inmates being forced to choose between firing squad and an electric chair, reports NPR.

In the waning days of the Trump administration, the outgoing president also vigorously pushed to fast-track the use of death by firing squad and death by electrocution.

At the time, former federal prosecutor Miriam Krinsky, who also heads the Fair and Just Prosecution advocacy group, said:

“As we find itself in the midst of a national reckoning with racism and our history of racial violence, ending the death penalty must be part of our transformation … Abolishing the death penalty would be a signal that the Biden-Harris administration is committed to fairness, equity, and evidence-based justice — and the time for this definitive move is long overdue.”

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