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Feb 19, 2017 at 23:20 o\clock

Chris Christie: 'I Will Crack Down And Not Permit' Legal Marijuana As President

If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) becomes president of the United States, he said on "The Hugh Hewitt Show" Tuesday, he will "crack down" on those states that have ended prohibitions on marijuana.

When asked by Hewitt if he would enforce federal drug laws in those states that have legalized and regulated cannabis, Christie responded unequivocally.

"Absolutely," Christie said. "I will crack down and not permit it."

Citing an "enormous addiction problem" in the U.S., Christie, who has not yet announced a presidential run but has launched a political action committee, said that a very clear message needs to be sent "from the White House on down through federal law enforcement."

"States should not be permitted to sell it and profit" from legalizing marijuana, he said.

Cannabis is still prohibited under federal law. States that have legalized marijuana, for recreational or medical purposes, rely on guidance from Attorney General Eric Holder urging federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal operations.

Opposition to marijuana reforms is nothing new from Christie. As governor of New Jersey, he has been a vocal critic, calling medical marijuana programs that 23 states have already enacted a "front" for full recreational legalization. On the prospects for legalizing recreational marijuana in his own state, Christie has said, "Not on my watch." Last year, when asked how a President Christie would treat states that have legalized marijuana, he said, "Probably not well."

But what is surprising is that a majority of Republicans disagree with Christie's stance, according to the most recent polling from Pew Research Center. Fifty-four percent told Pew that the federal government should not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana -- that is, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

Moreover, while only 39 percent of all Republicans support the legalization of recreational marijuana, 49 percent of those who identify as more moderate are in favor of legalization, according to Pew. Among millennial Republicans, support for legalizing marijuana is significant -- 63 percent are in favor.

Not to mention that Christie would need more than just GOP votes to win in 2016, and Pew found that 53 percent of Americans support legalization.

Tom Angell, chairman of the marijuana policy reform group Marijuana Majority, said that Christie's comments put him out of step with most Americans and with most members of his own party.

"This is not only bad policy but is incredibly bad politics," Angell said. "If Christie wants to block sensible marijuana reforms in his own state of New Jersey, that's one thing. But it's especially unacceptable -- and not very conservative, I'd add -- for him to say he'd use federal resources to overturn the will of voters in a growing number of other states that are moving beyond prohibition. Maybe he forgot that Colorado is an important swing state in presidential elections."

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Feb 18, 2017 at 16:51 o\clock

Israeli-Grown Plant Offers Marijuana Without High

An Israeli company says it is growing medical marijuana with a special twist -- it offers some of the same therapeutic benefits without the high.

According to Reuters, the company, Tikun Olam, is cultivating a type of cannabis plant that has high levels of a substance called Cannabidiol (CBD) believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.

What the plants do not have is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound that gives many marijuana users the characteristic high.

Medical marijuana advocates tout the drug as an effective remedy for numerous symptoms, including pain and nausea. Studies have also found marijuana to be effective in relieving symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Zack Klein, Tikum Olan's director of development, said the company's THC-free marijuana offers symptom relief without the mind-altering effects.

"Sometimes the high is not always what they need. Sometimes it is an unwanted side effect. For some of the people it's not even pleasant," Klein told Reuters.

Experts in the U.S. say there has been very little research on how the specific compounds in marijuana affect people's health, so it is difficult to predict how well this type of marijuana will work.

"With just regular marijuana, there is a mix between THC -- the more neurologically active component -- and CBD," said Dr. Igor Grant, director of the University - Arizona medical marijuana - of California San Diego's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. "There is still ongoing research to try to - - understand the actions of THC and CBD and how they interact."

There is, however, ample evidence to suggest that CBD is not psychoactive, he added.

THC has a number of physiological effects. It binds to cannabinoid receptors throughout the body to produce its effects, including the high.

"There are receptors all over the place -- in the heart, lungs, belly, brain -- and they control all sorts of things," said Dr. Timothy Fong, associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

It is particularly powerful as an anti-nausea remedy and is available in synthetic form as a drug called Marinol. A combination of THC and CBD, known as Sativex, is available in some countries outside the U.S.

One very small study of 16 human volunteers that compared THC to CBD found that CBD had fewer negative side effects than THC.

Would Marijuana Without THC Be Legal?

Right now, federal law considers THC, CBD and entire marijuana plants to be illegal according to, an independent charity that provides information on a number of different issues. Marinol, the drug that contains synthetic THC, is legal.

The mass cultivation of a plant similar to the Israeli-grown cannabis could create complicated legal and political issues, according to Robert MacCoun, a psychologist and professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.

While it remains to be seen whether or not CBD is effective against certain disease symptoms, many medical marijuana advocates believe it is the entire plant that provides therapeutic benefits.

"They have long argued that the substances in the plant collectively bring about the medical benefits," said MacCoun, who is not an attorney, but has done extensive research into policy issues surrounding medical marijuana.

If CBD turns out to also be therapeutic as THC, MacCoun explained it may change the legal and political dynamic, since the argument can be made that only certain ingredients should be legal.

Medical marijuana for research purposes must be obtained from the federal government, so it can be difficult to get, which MacCoun said limits the ability to study its effects.

And more research is exactly what experts who work with these compounds say is needed.

"This is an area that is very underdeveloped and underresearched," said Fong. "We need more ways to explore how the cannabinoid system works."

Feb 13, 2017 at 21:06 o\clock

Opinion: Arizona's shameful 'right to discriminate' bill

Story highlightsMatthew Whitaker: Arizona legislature approved a bill that would allow discriminationHe says the bill shields those who show religion prompts their discriminationHe says bill aimed at LGTB community but could affect many groupsWhitaker: Arizona complicated, not as biased as often depictedArizona set itself up for yet another self-inflicted political wound, international humiliation, costly boycotts and historical shame now that its legislature has passed a bill giving people the right to discriminate. The bill was written by the Center for Arizona Policy and a Christian legal organization called the Alliance Defending Freedom. They were inspired, in part, by the case of a New Mexico wedding photographer who was taken to court after refusing to shoot a gay commitment ceremony. The bill seeks to shield Christians from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who - - dare to seek equal protection under the law.

Specifically, the bill protects all individuals, businesses and religious institutions from discrimination lawsuits if they can show that their discriminatory actions were motivated by religious convictions.

Under the guise of religious freedom, however, the bill would enable businesses potentially to discriminate against virtually anyone -- not just Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, agnostics and atheists, but also unwed mothers, Rastafarians and Budweiser T-shirt wearers. This bill is arbitrary, capricious and antithetical to the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood that inform our documents of freedom.

It will lead to marginalization and oppression by allowing bigots to deny gay people access to virtually any business or service. The road to Indian genocide, Jim Crow, Japanese-American internment, the Holocaust and other iterations of human persecution began with laws that isolated and dehumanized entire groups of people.

Arizona's race relations and cultural politics are often misunderstood by the rest of the country. Racial diversity and progressivism exist within the predominantly white and conservative power structure of the Grand Canyon State. This has created an interesting dynamic.

Arizona has sometimes made racial and cultural inroads ahead of the national curve, while fear of major demographic shifts, including a growing LGBTQ community, and the erosion of white privilege have unearthed racial stereotyping, homophobia and xenophobic policies. Many outside the state misunderstand this dynamic, assuming we are a wholly backward place without understanding that it is much more complicated than that.

Nevertheless, Arizona now has the dubious designation as the first state to pass an anti-gay bill that seeks to shun and segregate in the name of religion.

Similar legislation has been put forward in Idaho, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee. The Arizona measure is the only bill that has passed.

There is a saying: "history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." The rhythm of chauvinism and acrimony in Arizona endures. The state long resisted creating a holiday honoring - - Martin Luther King Jr., which it finally did in 1992. It is not too late to shift course, however. Gov. Jan Brewer has the power to put Arizona back on the right side of history. The "right to discriminate" bill now sits on her desk.

The bill passed Thursday, She has five days to reject it or sign it into law.

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Jan 20, 2017 at 01:46 o\clock

New Jersey Bans Job Ads That Discriminate Against Unemployed

In New Jersey, it is no longer legal for employers to specify in their job ads that unemployed persons will not be considered.

Gov. Chris Christie (R) recently signed a bill that bans overt discrimination against the jobless in print or online -- the first legislation of its kind in the United States. Employers would face a penalty of $1,000 for the first offense and $5,000 for subsequent offenses.

New Jersey state Rep. Celeste Riley (D-Cumberland), a primary sponsor of the bill, said she became aware of the problem of employers discriminating against the jobless when her colleague showed her an actual online job ad that ruled out unemployed candidates.

"My district has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, and when jobs are few and far between, I don't want somebody saying, 'Just because you're unemployed I'm not gonna hire you,'" she told The Huffington Post. "There's the old theory of 'you need a job to get a job,' but that's absolutely unacceptable. You should be employed based on your skills and what you bring to the table."

HuffPost has been reporting on the discrimination against the unemployed since June 2010, when Sony Ericsson posted a job ad online that - New Jersey lawyers - specified in bold lettering, "NO UNEMPLOYED CANDIDATES WILL BE CONSIDERED AT ALL." It's still easy to find job ads that specify that a candidate must already have a job in order to be considered.

Riley said she's not sure to what extent the New Jersey law will actually change employers minds about hiring unemployed people, but she hopes it will at least send them a message.

"You can't control people's behaviors," she said, "but as a state, we can say that we find this practice unacceptable -- especially in these hard economic times."

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) introduced similar legislation on a federal level in March that would amend the Civil Rights Act to include unemployed people as a protected group. The Fair Employment Act of 2011 -- a bill which is still in committee -- would make it illegal for employers to refuse - - to hire or to lower compensation based on employment status.

"I'm hopeful this can be a bipartisan effort," he told HuffPost, "because unemployment knows no demographic difference."

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