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Mexico Senate Votes in Landslide To Legalize World’s Largest Cannabis Market

Mexico could soon become the largest consumer market for cannabis products in the world.

Elias Marat

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Mexico is hurtling toward legalizing cannabis for a variety of uses, opening up the Latin American country to becoming the largest consumer market for cannabis products in the world.

Just days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., Mexico’s Senate approved a bill that would put an end to prohibition measures in a landslide vote of 82 to 18, with seven abstentions.

Lawmakers in the ruling Morena party have been working hard to seal the approval of the landmark cannabis legalization bill before the current congressional session draws to a close in December. Morena, alongside its allies, holds majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The bill is designed to “improve living conditions” and “contribute to the reduction of crime linked to drug trafficking,” according to its text.

The move would amount to a huge U-turn after decades of anti-drug policies led to the explosive growth of transnational cartels – and ferocious local cartel wars – in Mexico. In recent years, violence related to drug cartels has claimed upwards of 10,000 lives.

Advocates of legalization in Mexico have long argued that legalizing the plant would allow the country to advance alternative drug policies, halt the criminalization of drug users and refocus its security efforts to better address public health.

The demands of advocates came significantly closer to being realized in 2018, when the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that recreational marijuana should be permitted. One year prior, legislators voted to legalize the plant for medical purposes.

While Mexico has a long and storied history of cannabis usage, the consumption of the plant is still not as culturally accepted on a widespread level as in the United States. However, the creation of legal commercial markets for the sale and purchase of the plan will likely displace the large systems of illicit cultivation in the country.

Socially conservative Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, popularly known by his initials AMLO, has largely shied away from vocally supporting the legalization of the plant. However, Lopez Obrador has long endorsed the need to radically reform the country’s laws to put an end to rampant drug violence in Mexico, where drug cartels still hold sway over the illicit trade of narcotics.

But while the president hasn’t been an outspoken champion of legalization efforts, members of his center-left party such as Senate leader Ricardo Monreal and senior cabinet members like Interior Minister Olga Sanchez have been clear in their calls to open the doors to legalizing and regulating the recreational usage of cannabis.

Under the proposed measures, Mexico would place strict controls on ownership and the supply chain used for domestic production and international commerce of cannabis. The trade surrounding the industry would also have to comply with various forms of financial source verification, ensuring that the business doesn’t fall into the hands of criminal syndicates, writes Forbes.

Under the bill, adults over 18 will be allowed to cultivate and possess up to 28 grams of cannabis for personal use. Possession of up to 200 grams would also be decriminalized.

Individuals would be allowed to grow up to 20 plants provided their annual yield isn’t in excess of 480 grams. Medical patients would be able to grow over 20 plants, if necessary. Public consumption of cannabis would also be allowed in all spaces besides those marked as “100 percent smoke-free.”

Cannabis sales would also be subject to a 12 percent tax, with revenue going toward drug abuse programs. The new laws and regulations would be enforced and overseen by the Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis.

Advocates have also expressed caution about moving forward while taking into account social equity concerns and safeguards to prevent transnational corporations from monopolizing the massive, burgeoning weed market in the North American country.

The success of these efforts would make Mexico the largest country in the world, by population, to legalize cannabis. With a population exceeding 125 million people, Mexico would quickly become the largest consumer market for cannabis products, marking a huge step forward in bringing the international cannabis marketplace out of the shadows.

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Betty White Turns 99, and Her Tips on Living a Long and Happy Life Are More Valuable Than Ever

Elias Marat

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Betty White, the original golden girl beloved by people of all ages, celebrated her 99th birthday on Sunday.

The spry granny, born Betty Marion White on Jan. 17, 1922, has managed to live a long, healthy, happy life and this can likely be chalked up to her unconventional approach.

The Emmy award-winning veteran actress once joked that her secret to longevity consisted of three simple ingredients: vodka, hot dogs, and her love of pets.

However, her tongue-in-cheek advice is getting new attention, especially given that too many of us have been forced to stay at home over much of the past year.

In 2011, during a Late Show interview with David Letterman, White gave 10 sagely tips on how she’s managed to maintain her verb and energy for so long. With White reaching one year short of a century, the advice is worth revisiting.

Her first bit of advice was to “get at least eight hours of beauty sleep, nine if you’re ugly.” Next, she advised that one should “Exercise. Or don’t. What the hell do I care?”

Third, she opined that one should “never apologize. It shows weakness.”

Her fourth tip shouldn’t give anyone any adventurous ideas, but it’s helpful nonetheless: “The best way to earn a quick buck is a slip and fall lawsuit.”

She then gave the priceless tip that one should “avoid tweeting any photos of your private parts” while also making sure to “schedule nightly appointment with Dr. Johnnie Walker.”

Some of the healthy eaters in our audience may take exception to White’s seventh tip, which is to: “Take some wheatgrass, soy paste and carob, toss it in the garbage and cook yourself a big-*ss piece of pork.”

Her next bit of adice was to “try not to die” and “never dwell on past mistakes,” which may both be easier said than done. Lastly, she recommended that you “don’t waste your time watching this crap.”

Sound advice that we can all relate to, Mrs. White!

White is reportedly spending her 99th birthday simply relaxing, she told Entertainment Tonight.

“You probably didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway. … What am I doing for my birthday? Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by [coronavirus], so I am working on getting ‘The Pet Set’ re-released, and feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day,” she explained, referencing a 1971 show she starred in that featured celebrities appearing alongside their pets.

Her birthday was also marked by various celebrities, who tweeted out birthday greetings to the TV icon.

“Happy birthday, @BettyMWhite! You’re a miracle in every way,”  wrote Ellen DeGeneres.

“I still get warm when I see this look. Happy 99 baby. You are a testament to living life on your own terms. Sending you a great big socially distanced kiss. I love you @BettyMWhite,” Ed Asner tweeted.

“Betty White bloopers are the best bloopers #HappyBirthdayBettyWhite,” Valerie Bertinelli tweeted alongside a video of hilarious mistakes made on the set of their former show, Hot in Cleveland.

“Wishing the incomparable Betty White a very happy 99th birthday! What’s your favorite Betty White role, friends?” wrote Star Trek star George Takei.

White, who is best known for her role as Rose Nylund in the classic sitcom The Golden Girls (1985-92), has over 75 years in show business under her belt. The comedian became a staple of U.S. television in such shows as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Hot in Cleveland along with memorable appearances in shows like Mama’s Family and That ‘70s Show.

She catapulted to fame with her first sitcom, Life with Elizabeth, where White played the titular role and became the first woman to have creative control of a program as both a producer and the star.

White earned no less than 24 Emmy nominations and won eight in the span of her career.

When she reached the age of 90 it didn’t slow her down one bit. Not only did White become the oldest host in the history of Saturday Night Live but she also made dozens of cameos. White also starred in a memorable 2010 Super Bowl commercial for Snickers where she got tackled to the ground, football-style.

In an email to the Associated Press, White shared an especially enjoyable perk of old age: “Since I am turning 99, I can stay up as late as I want without asking permission!”

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UK Judge Refuses to Extradite WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to the US

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In a surprise ruling on Monday, British District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the United States government’s request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on espionage charges.

Baraitser did not object to the overall charges, but ruled that conditions in US prisons would be too harsh, and that Assange would likely kill himself if he were extradited.

Baraitser rejected defense arguments that the charges against Assange were politically motivated and a violation of free speech.

“I find that the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” the judge said, according to the Associated Press.

She said that Assange was “a depressed and sometimes despairing man” who had the “intellect and determination” to take his own life.

The US government has promised to appeal the decision. At a bail hearing on Wednesday, Assange’s lawyers plan to ask for his release. Assange’s American lawyer, Barry Pollack, said the legal team was “enormously gratified” that he will not be extradited.

“We hope that after consideration of the U.K. court’s ruling, the United States will decide not to pursue the case further,” he said.

In court, lawyers for Assange argued that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech when he published evidence of US war crimes that were deemed to be classified

Despite ruling to reject the extradition, the Judge essentially agreed with the complaints of US prosecutors. Saying that Assange’s actions “amount to offenses in this jurisdiction that would not be protected by his right to freedom of speech.”

She also said she trusted that the US court system would give him a fair trial, while at the same time admitting that prison conditions in the US would be too harsh.

“I accept that oppression as a bar to extradition requires a high threshold. … However, I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the ‘single minded determination’ of his autism spectrum disorder,” the judge said in her ruling.

Professor Michael Kopelman, an emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, said that Assange has been hearing voices and has confessed to a priest that he was making preparations to kill himself. These preparations included drafting his will and writing a goodbye letter to his family and friends.

“He reported auditory hallucinations, which were voices either inside or outside his head, somatic hallucinations, funny bodily experiences, these have now disappeared. He also has a long history of musical hallucinations, which is maybe a separate phenomenon, that got worse when he was in prison,” Kopelman said.

The voices that Assange is hearing are saying things like “you are dust, you are dead, we are coming to get you.”

Kopelman said that the most severe hallucinations have begun to diminish, but Assange is still severely depressed and at a high risk of suicide. He also added that if Assange were extradited the risk would increase further.

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Dad Dies of Cancer, But Leaves His Son $10 to Buy His First Beer on 21st Birthday

Elias Marat

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A young man in Massachusetts enjoyed an extra-special 21st birthday after he found out that his first legal beer was purchased by his late father, who died several years ago.

Matt Goodman was only 15 years only when his father passed away after succumbing to cancer, reports Boston 25. Prior to passing, however, Matt’s dad passed along a $10 bill, and instructed her to save the money for Matt’s 21st birthday so that he could buy his son his first mug of beer.

Matt shared the touching milestone on Twitter last Sunday, after he took the $10 bill to a bar in Attleboro so that he could buy a Bud Light.

“Almost 6 years ago before my dad passed he gave my sister this 10$ bill to give to me on my 21st birthday so he could buy me my first beer, cheers pops havin this one for you!” he wrote. 

For Matt’s father, the knowledge that his life would end was made more painful by the fact that he knew he would miss such important moments in his children’s life, said Matt’s sister, Casey Goodman.

“I know the hardest thing for my dad was the things he was going to miss out on,” Casey said. “Anyone who knew my dad knew he was this goofy, larger-than-life of-the-party guy, and my little brother was his entire world.”

So when the father passed the $10 bill to Matt’s mother and sister, they knew that they should hold onto it until the time was right.

They finally handed him the envelope containing the cash the night before his birthday – a move that initially confused the birthday boy until Casey tipped him off to its purpose.

“She kind of explained the backstory and everything and then it turned into a pretty emotional moment and started crying,” Matt told CBS News.

The moment stirred such strong feelings because beyond sharing the typical father-son bond, the two were always spending their free time fishing, riding quads, or playing washer toss with each other.

“Me and him were just like best friends,” Matt said. “Anytime we would hang out, it was just like having fun.” 

Since posting the tweet, it has since gone viral and been liked over 540,000 times.

The tweet eventually captured the attention of Budweiser, which decided to make the most of the opportunity for free advertising.

The brewery giant responded directly to Matt’s tweet and wrote, “We’re raising one to your pops, Matt. He got your first beer and the next one’s on us.”

Matt later tweeted that Budweiser had sent Matt several cases of beer, free of charge.

The story also resonated with Twitter users who also had stories about the grief and pain of losing a loved one. Users also asked how they, too, could chip in to buy the 21-year-old a fresh cold one.

However, instead of accepting the money, Matt thanked them for the support and encouraged people to instead donate to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who had helped his father.

“Appreciate all of you asking for my venmo, but instead if you wanted to send money feel free to donate any amount to dana farber they did a lot for my dad so that would be much appreciated!” he tweeted. 

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