While the 2020 election continues to deliver shocks, voters in the state of Oregon have delivered a historic verdict by approving a much-needed overhaul of drug laws, decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of “hard” drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines, while also approving the all-out legalization of psilocybin mushrooms.
Oregon’s groundbreaking Measure 110 – the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative – reclassifies the low-level possession of illegal substances including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, LSD, methadone and oxycodone from a misdemeanor to a non-criminal violation, punishable by either a $100 fine or a health assessment. Come Feb. 1, the state will halt jailing people for petty possession.
The measure passed by a near-landslide 59 percent of voters versus 41 percent, and is the first such law in the entire United States, marking a spectacular victory for criminal justice reform advocates across the nation who backed the law.
By effectively decriminalizing the small-scale possession of drugs, the new law effectively halts one of the most pernicious means by which the “War on Drugs” has adversely impacted communities of color and poor communities that have suffered disproportionate over-policing and mass incarceration.
Drug trafficking remains a felony offense, while substantial possession of drugs would be reduced to a felony. Roughly $100 million in cannabis-derived tax revenue will be used to expand rehabilitation services while 24-hour Addiction Recovery Centers will also be opened. Federal authorities will also be able to aggressively enforce drug laws in the state.
However, advocates are hailing the passage of the law as crucial in helping struggling residents break out of the cycle of arrest, incarceration, and addiction.
“It’s going to be huge,” Haven Wheelock, a drug counselor for Portland nonprofit Outside In, told VICE. “It’s going to allow people to get the services they need without fear of arrest. It’s going to change how people who don’t use drugs think about drug use. It’s going to allow us to move into a health-based system and hopefully be a model for other places. We have an opportunity to show the rest of the country this is how it should be.”
Voters also made history by legalizing psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms by approving Measure 109 – the Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program Initiative – by 55.88 percent.
Under the measure, the state will become the first in the country legalize the use of the psychedelic fungus in controlled doses within the framework of a regulated system overseen by licensed clinicians and therapists.
While multiple cities have decriminalized the substance, Oregon will be the only one to establish a regulatory framework that allows for supervised statewide use.
The measure gives the Oregon Health Authority the mandate “to set up all licensing, training, certification, and ongoing education requirements for psilocybin service centers and facilitators during a mandated two-year development process.”
Only those holding licenses would be allowed to “provide psilocybin therapy, cultivate psilocybin, or own a psilocybin service center.”
The measure’s approval is a huge victory for chief petitioner couple Sheri and Thomas Eckerton, two counselors who have spent years pushing for the legalization of the psychedelic substance. In a statement, campaigners thanked over 164,000 residents across 300 Oregon states who signed petitions to approve psilocybin therapy.
“We are incredibly grateful for the support of each and every voter who helped us make history by creating the first legal psilocybin therapy program in the country,” the Yes on 109 campaign announced on Twitter.
“Healthcare professionals, veterans, mothers, people struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction and end of life distress, community organizations, and so many others answered to call for a new option to help so many who are suffering,” the group added in its statement.
Advocates note that psilocybin has shown great promise in a range of psychotherapeutic settings, shattering the old stereotype of psilocybin as some intoxicating and hallucination-inducing party drug that drives its users insane – a reputation that largely grew out of the hippie counterculture of the 1960s when they were widely known as “psychedelic” or “magic” mushrooms.
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.