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.
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Awesome New Infrared Goggles Could Help Blind People ‘See’ Surroundings
People who are blind or deal with low vision face a unique number of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from accessing published material to holding a job or living on one’s own.
However, emerging infrared technology under research could help the blind and visually impaired navigate the world around them using a pair of innovative goggles.
In new research recently published and yet to be peer-reviewed, Manuel Zahn and Armaghan Ahmad Khan at Germany’s Technical University of Munich explored how their 3D camera and haptic feedback armband can assist people with low vision.
“Even in the present era, visually impaired people face a constant challenge of navigation,” the pair wrote. “The most common tool available to them is the cane. Although the cane allows good detection of objects in the user’s immediate vicinity, it lacks the ability to detect obstacles further away.”
The two students’ design deploys two infrared cameras placed in a 3D-printed goggles prototype to get a stereoscopic view that is transformed by a small computer into a map of the user’s surroundings. The infrared gear also works in the dark. The armband then uses 25 actuators arranged in a grid that vibrates when users come close to objects while also assisting them in their orientation. As users walk near obstacles, the vibration intensity of the actuators increases.
In tests, subjects enjoyed roughly 98 percent accuracy while getting through obstacle pathways, with all five participants completing the course in their first run. After two additional runs, the volunteers were able to navigate the obstacles more rapidly.
Zahn and Khan frequently cited Microsoft’s Kinect motion detection system for the Xbox in their study, but the pair are confident that their own setup will be far smaller, cheaper and less conspicuous than the gaming device.
The new headset could offer an interesting opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to clear the myriad obstacles they face when performing regular tasks or navigating the world around them.
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Toddler Goes On $2000 Furniture-Shopping Spree On Mom’s Phone
A New Jersey mom learned that keeping your browser open may not be the best idea as children, and even infants, become increasingly tech savvy.
Madhu Kumar was browsing Walmart’s furniture selection on their website and had added some items to her shopping cart but never checked out. She was shocked and confused when she started to receive a steady stream of packages from the big-box retailer.
Madhu immediately turned to her husband and two older children to find out who ordered the packages.
“I need one or two, why would we need four?” Madhu asked.
As it turned out, her toddler Ayaansh Kumar – who, at 22 months old, was barely learning to count – had gone on a $2,000 shopping spree while playing on his mother’s phone.
“It is really hard to believe that he has done this, but that’s what happened,” Ayaansh’s dad, Pramod Kumar, told NBC New York.
Among the packages were some that could barely be squeezed through the family’s front door at their home in Monmouth Junction.
Purchases included accent chairs, flower stands and a range of other household items that arrived throughout the week.
“He’s so little, he’s so cute, we were laughing that he ordered all this stuff,” his mom remarked.
From birth, young Ayaansh had observantly watched his family members engage in a range of activities from home – including shopping, attending classes, and going to school. And as it the case for many kids of his generation, he knows the basics of operating a smartphone.
The parents are still waiting for all of the boxes to arrive so that they can return them to their local Walmart. The retailer has already told the Kumars that they are eligible for a refund, but the parents plan to save at least a few items to remind them of their son’s first e-commerce adventure.
“Moving forward, we will put tough passcodes or face recognition so when he picks up the phone he finds it in locked condition,” his father said.
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