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Decentralization Or Death: Texas Has A Chance To Legalize Medical Marijuana

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Decentralization Or Death: Texas Has A Chance To Legalize Medical Marijuana

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The fight for liberty in current-day America may look somewhat confusing to an outsider looking in. After all, what do libertarians want? More freedom. But how do they go about that? Well, that may depend on whom you ask.

Texas

Perhaps, we can all agree on at least one thing: The more centralized the power is, the less free the individual will become. By the same token, if power is decentralized, then people will become more free, even if gradually so.

The nullification movement ignited by the Tenth Amendment Center has helped to give countless of libertarians and non-libertarians tools to decentralize power, taking it from the hands of the feds by forcing state legislatures to say no to Washington, D.C. Thanks to this movement, several states have taken great steps to fight Washington’s violation of 2nd Amendment rights, to fight for more freedom in education, and to undo the great damage created by the war on drugs by weakening prohibition locally.

Now, it’s Texas’ turn.

House Bill 85, introduced by Rep. Eddie Lucio and 12 other lawmakers would legalize medical marijuana by expanding a cannabis oil law already on the books, giving medical marijuana a new status.

If the bill passes, people suffering from certain conditions would have legal access to cannabis while dispensaries would be allowed to operate in the state.

To many pro-marijuana advocates across the country, the most recent attempt to legalize medical marijuana in Texas is far from exciting. After all, the bill still limits the number of patients with access to the substance considerably. However, many other attempts to legalize marijuana in Texas ended up nowhere. This is yet another opportunity for anti-drug war advocates working hard to promote their ideas in the Lone Star state.

If HB 85 passes through the house and the Senate and makes it to the governor’s desk, Texas could be part of a growing movement that has already helped anti-drug war advocates in California, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, and others. As more states refuse to aid the feds by not going after marijuana users, federal agencies become powerless and their prohibitionist laws become toothless.

But until then, HB 85 must first pass the House Public Health Committee before moving forward. Here’s hoping the decentralization fever spreads well across the red state.

Drugs Keep Blue Collar Workers From Finding Jobs: Time To End The Drug War

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Drugs Keep Blue Collar Workers From Finding Jobs: Time To End The Drug War


This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The opioid crisis in America is real and it has been putting thousands of people in grave danger yearly with 33,000 dying of overdoses in 2015 alone. But despite the high rates of drug abuse in certain states, others have been reaping the benefits of pot legalization. In states where cannabis is legal either for medical, recreational purposes or both, the rate of opioid abuse is actually lower.

drug

Now, reports claim that employers have been having a hard time finding skilled blue collar workers because a high rate of them simply cannot pass random drug tests.

According to the latest Fed’s regular Beige Book surveys, employers in the manufacturing and hospitality industries have been unable to find enough workers who pass drug screenings.

Employees and potential employees who are subjected to these screenings are often tested for marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, methamphetamines, nicotine, and alcohol. And in places like Ohio, where the opioid crisis hit locals especially harder, manufacturing companies such as Warren Fabricating & Machining have been experiencing the worst crisis in their history, with two out of every five qualified applicants failing routine drug tests.

To Edmond O’Neal, who is with the education and skills-training non-profit Northeast Indiana Works, the problem is that many employees or potential employees simply do not view pot as a drug.

“I’ve heard kids say pot isn’t a drug. It may not be, but pot will prevent you from getting a job,” he told reporters.

But because weed and many other substances are still seen as illicit drugs under federal law, these companies are compelled to be rigorous in their screening process. After all, having employees making use of illicit drugs is a liability and an insurance problem.

While performing any job under the influence of drugs has its consequences, individuals who use certain substances for medical or recreational purposes such as cannabis in their time off may find it hard to maintain a job.

In many cases, employees in fields where they are expected to go under great physical stress feel the pressure to let go of their cannabis use, a relatively safe way to obtain relief for muscle and other types of pain, just to stay employed. In no time, these same workers may end up turning to prescription drugs for relief, stepping into the never-ending cycle of legal opioid use triggered by doctors who are more than happy to prescribe highly addictive opioids but whose hands are still tied when it comes to medical marijuana.

While we don’t know exactly what percentage of employees fail drug tests over cannabis use, we can only assume that many are failing, especially in these fields, because they are directly affected by the work they do and turning to marijuana as a way to relieve stress and pain actually works. But thanks to the federal government’s continued effort to fight a failed war against drugs, both blue collar workers and their potential employers are the ones paying for these failed policies.

How do you define a victimless crime?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty, Victimless Crime by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

How do you define a victimless crime?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question

I’m a Libertarian candidate for prosecuting attorney, and I’m seeking to craft short answers for my campaign. One of my campaign promises is that I will not seek to imprison persons accused of a victimless crime.

crime

How would you define ‘victimless crime’ when asked? Specifically, does that include negligent conduct that involves a risk of harming others? For example: driving through a red light, driving while intoxicated, and firing shots into the air.

Many types of negligent criminal conduct involve some risk of harming others. But often the risk is trivial. What is the dividing line between trivial risk and significant risk? There are no statistics on the risk of harm I know of.

Answer

A victim (by libertarian standards) is someone who is threatened with physical force, fraud, or theft. If there is no threat, there is no crime. A victimless crime, therefore, is one in which no one has been threatened with physical force, fraud, or theft.

California May Soon Put An End To Unchecked Police Surveillance

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

California May Soon Put An End To Unchecked Police Surveillance

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

A bill introduced in the California Senate earlier this year that requires law enforcement agencies in the Golden State must get local government approval before deploying surveillance technology has just passed California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. Now, it must pass the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection by a majority vote.

surveillance

If this bill remains favorable among California lawmakers and it becomes law, it could mark the beginning of a new era for privacy advocates since privacy advocates in other states might be inspired by seeing advocates targeting law enforcement agencies that abuse their power in the local level.

The bill, SB 21, mandates that law enforcement follows a Surveillance Use Policy for surveillance technologies available for use. This document would also cover the type of information these technologies collect. Once agencies develop their own operational policy, they would then have to submit these documents to a local governing body for approval. A hearing that would be open to the public would then be scheduled, and if the agency’s plan isn’t adopted then officials would be barred from using that particular surveillance technology within 30 days.

The proposed legislation would also ensure that civilians have the ability to sue a particular law enforcement agency if officers violate the legislation.

Officials would also have to amend policies related to any new surveillance technology they acquire in the future, forcing agencies to subject the new system to the same approval requirements.

While so far the bill seems promising, one of the risks associated with having this piece of legislation go through yet another committee is the fact lawmakers may feel compelled to amend the bill enough as to make some provisions in it toothless. Since this move would make law enforcement agencies fighting this bill quite happy, it’s important that SB 21 passes as is for it to be effective.

In order to help push the bill through the California legislature in a clean fashion, Media Alliance, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California, and the Tenth Amendment Center are all pushing legislators to focus on the end goal, ignoring calls for watering down the bill coming from law enforcement interests.

As it stands, officials are allowed access to an enormous amount of access to a series of surveillance equipment without any significant oversight. As officials notice access to these tools may be restricted, forcing them to do actual investigative work to do their jobs, pressure mounts. So it’s no wonder that law enforcement unions and their lobbyists aren’t willing to give up on this fight so easily.

As agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) show they are willing to let criminals go so their surveillance methods are challenged in court, we can only hope this legislative effort remains strong, producing the end goal desired so that Californians’ privacy is protected.

Credit Union Wins Small Victory In Fight Against Federal Marijuana Prohibition

in Drugs, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Credit Union Wins Small Victory In Fight Against Federal Marijuana Prohibition

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Marijuana was legalized in the state of Colorado, nullifying the federal prohibitive rules regarding the substance, in 2012. But as the pot industry grew tremendously over a short period of time in the state, the feds found yet another way to restrict marijuana entrepreneurs.

marijuana

Since marijuana is still an illicit drug according to federal law, the banking industry found itself unable to provide services to marijuana businessmen and women. As a result, many entrepreneurs found it hard to have access to loans or even bank accounts to better manage their business.

Recently, a marijuana credit union was able to win a small but significant victory in the fight against the federal government’s control over drug policy.

Fourth Corner Credit Union had been barred from having access to certain services due to its willingness to do business with marijuana-related businesses. As a result, the institution was not allowed to open a Federal Reserve master account so it could provide banking services to customers. Now, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has annulled this decision.

Thanks to this move, the institution is now free to re-apply for the account. And, if denied once again, Fourth Corner may take the case to court once more.

While this isn’t necessarily a victory in the sense that it allows banking institutions to provide services to whomever they wish, it’s the first step in a long process to ensure that Colorado’s marijuana laws aren’t undermined by the federal government’s insistence in upholding laws that effectively impact Americans’ right to self-ownership.

As it stands, Colorado’s pot industry has functioned mostly on cash transactions. This causes problems for both consumers and entrepreneurs as many of these companies may feel that saving and managing their money is more difficult without having access to a banking account.

But Colorado isn’t the only state running into major banking problems thanks to the federal government. Business in Washington and Oregon are also facing problems as feds are the ones that regulate the banking industry.

Perhaps, if freedom and true liberty advocates are willing to take up the fight, the next step anti-drug war advocates should take is to embark on a new nullification effort that might help to decentralize banking in the United States. By default, if this effort is eventually successful, states could continue passing their own drug-related pieces of legislation, allowing entrepreneurs to have access to a world of banking options not available to them until then. Of course, any such fight wouldn’t be easy. But decentralization is key in promoting liberty.

As more states become freer than others on diverse fronts, Americans see incentives in moving. This is how “voting with our feet” happens.

 

Government Facial Scans Are Here, Here’s Why You Should Worry

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Government Facial Scans Are Here, Here’s Why You Should Worry

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

What starts as “common sense” legislation often ends up opening up the gates for more government intrusion, putting the freedom and privacy of Americans at grave risk.

That’s what’s happening now as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s “Biometric Exit” program is starting to be used at airports in certain parts of the country.

government

Congress, decades ago, passed legislation pushing federal officials to take steps to track down foreign nationals as they entered and left the United States. The idea, born out of a perceived necessity to keep track of foreigners who overstayed their visas, soon became the basis for yet another idea. That’s when the thought of creating a database filled with scans of American faces came to life.

Without going to Congress or consulting the public, the DHS launched the Biometric Exit program. Slowly, the agency started implementing the scanning initiative, making American citizens and green card holders, as well as foreigners, have their faces scanned before embarking on certain international flights from both New York and Atlanta.

To kickstart this program, DHS partnered with Delta in Atlanta and New York and with JeBlue in Boston, making these face recognition scans mandatory when run by Delta and voluntary when run by JetBlue.

To those going through JetBlue, the company gives passengers the option of ditching the physical ticket altogether for a face scan.

Despite the different approaches, both of the systems already in use are just the start of something larger that could soon turn into a nationwide launch of Biometric Exit. As a result, everyone, both foreign and American, would be subject to having their faces scanned and their details added or matched to a federal database.

If this system becomes mandatory, the issues associated with errors could be a major headache for individuals on the receiving end of the extra scrutiny. With government goons taking the facial recognition tool much too seriously, a case of mistaken identity could put an absolutely innocent person at risk of being detained, while other, smaller mistakes, could cause passengers to miss their flights or spend extra hours at secondary screenings.

Aside from these potential issues, the very idea that the federal government would be collecting this information from anyone leaving the country raises questions regarding the constitutionality of these scans. After all, does the collection of information on innocent Americans without a warrant pass the Fourth Amendment test?

Many legal scholars say that it wouldn’t. So why is the DHS putting this in motion without Congress’ approval?

Well, quite frankly, because they can. As government grows larger and more intrusive, it also grows more certain it may operate outside existing laws that theoretically restrict them from infringing on people’s most basic rights. And that is the problem that must be addressed.

New Law Ensures Maine Won’t Help Feds Restrict Gun Owners’ Freedoms

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

New Law Ensures Maine Won’t Help Feds Restrict Gun Owners’ Freedoms

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Ever since the boom in state-led efforts to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, effectively rendering federal laws regarding the substance toothless, many decentralization advocates began urging locals to take up the fight against Washington, D.C., in more active ways. Now, groups across the country have added a series of other victories to their personal records by defying the state and crushing restrictive health care laws, freeing up education requirements in their states, and even making it safer to be a gun owner.

Maine

That’s what Maine lawmakers have just accomplished.

Last week, a bill that prohibits state officials to gather information on firearms and their owners was signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage. Thanks to this piece of legislation, Maine gun owners’ privacy will be protected and kept from the sticky hands of the feds, who are always looking for a way to put a countrywide registry of gun owners together. Without a far reaching database of firearms and their owners, federal officials are unable to enforce any more restrictive new anti-gun ownership law Washington decides to enact in the future.

House Bill 9 was introduced by Rep. Patrick Corey, a Republican from Windham. But what was surprising to many is that the piece of legislation obtained wide support from both sides of the aisle. According to the bill’s wording, the creation of a state firearms registry is now prohibited.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a government agency of this State or a political subdivision of this State may not keep or cause to be kept a comprehensive registry of privately owned firearms and the owners of those firearms within its jurisdiction,” the law now states.

Passed by the state’s House by a 122-24 margin, the bill then headed to the Senate where it passed without any opposition. The piece of legislation was signed on June 12 and it’s scheduled to go into effect 90 days after the Maine legislative session is closed.

Since the federal government relies on information and resources made available by state officials and bureaucracies, passing this law means that the federal government won’t be able to obtain personal information on Maine gun owners anytime soon. By putting an end to any effort that would amount to a gun registry in the state, Maine is igniting a fire that could catch nationwide. In no time, the federal government would have its hands tied, forcing Washington to forego any new efforts to keep an eye on gun owners with the goal of restricting their freedom and violating their 2nd Amendment protections.

Are private schools unfair?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Education, Liberator Online by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Are private schools unfair?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question

I live in England, where the private schools are derided by some, not because they are bad, but because they are thought of as unfairly benefiting the wealthy. I disagree. I believe that, because the offspring is an extension of the parent, he or she gains no unfair advantage — the school simply allows people to gain advantage from their own work. Do you agree?

schools

Answer

I would agree. However, all schools, whether public or private cost many times more in taxes or tuition than is necessary because of government regulations. Without these restrictions, ad-sponsored television programs like Sesame Street, special educational cable stations, Internet courses, and other advances we cannot yet envision could make high-quality education virtually free — for everyone! For details, see Chapter 10 of my book, “Healing Our World,” available from the Advocates for Self-Government.

Massachusetts Wants To Boost The Marijuana Black Market

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Massachusetts Wants To Boost The Marijuana Black Market

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Massachusetts voters chose to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November, putting an end to more than a century of prohibition in the region. This Wednesday, the state’s House leaders are going directly against their constituents, advancing a bill that would set the tax on recreational pot to 28 percent, double the amount currently allowed. On top of that, the proposal would also give municipal officials — or bureaucrats — power over which shops and farms can be banned, taking this authority away from local voters.

marijuana

Claiming that this piece of legislation actually better serves voters by protecting public health, safety, and the “best interests of the state,” lawmakers supporting the bill seem to ignore that the measures adopted in its text would have very different real-world consequences.

If the goal here is to boost the illicit marijuana drug market, the mandatory high taxes are enough to do the trick, and if what legislators want is to allow local government officials to be influenced by certain entrepreneurs to keep competitors from establishing shops or farms in certain locations in order to boost their own business, this bill also seems to be the perfect fit. In other words, if what Massachusetts lawmakers see as a victory is nothing but to create an environment where only gangsters and monied pot entrepreneurs are able to succeed, then they have hit the jackpot.

To advocates who have been working to legalize marijuana in the state for years, this bill represents a refusal to embrace what voters have already chosen to see implemented in 2016. Furthermore, they add that increasing taxes on marijuana sales will rise the cost of the final product to the consumer, who may choose to obtain his or her supply of weed from elsewhere.

Knowing consumers won’t buy pot if the cost is too high, many entrepreneurs who already run medical marijuana dispensaries in the state are beginning to reconsider plans to expand their business now that recreational marijuana is legal. But if legitimate businesses are disincentivized from opening their doors, consumers will then be at greater risk of experiencing health issues as they may end up purchasing marijuana in the black market, where products are often moldy or even adulterated.

Instead of protecting voters, lawmakers are making the marijuana market in the state more dangerous by both raising the overall cost of doing business and giving bureaucrats the power to pick and choose who may or may not do business in the state.

Unless lawmakers completely reword the bill, it’s poised to be passed this week before it goes to the Senate. If passed by both chambers, this bill could be signed by Governor Charlie Baker by the end of the month, putting an end to what anti-drug war advocates fought so hard to achieve.

Obama Era Rule Expansion Could Finally Kill The Fourth Amendment

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

Obama Era Rule Expansion Could Finally Kill The Fourth Amendment

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Just before President Barack Obama left office, his administration gave President Donald Trump’s administration the best parting gift a power thirsty official could have asked for: More access to innocent Americans’ private information.

Fourth AmendmentAfter Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on innocent Americans without due process, the country — and the world — learned that the U.S. government prefers to collect the haystack before looking for the needle. As the debate surrounding privacy rights heated up due to this revelation, others dismissed the reports, saying that those who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear.

As a counterargument, privacy advocates pointed out that officials don’t need to do their jobs correctly to bust someone for a crime they didn’t commit if they have data.

With data, these advocates would explain, officials can tell a story, even if you had nothing to do with a certain crime.

Now, the Trump administration has the power to make use of the data collected by the NSA even more widely, since Obama gave sixteen federal agencies access to the agency’s database.

These agencies include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

While the government says that the collected communications available via the NSA are “masked” to protect the identity of innocent Americans, several government officials have the authority to demand unrestricted access. And what’s worse, Congress is now working hard to expand this information sharing system with a series of other agencies.

Thanks to Rep. John Katko (R-NY), HR 2169, or the Improving Fusion Centers’ Access to Information Act, may change the rules so that more agencies under the DHS control have the same access to NSA’s database, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). If flying hadn’t been made nearly unbearable thanks to the sexual harassment that comes along with going through airport security, the TSA is about to get even more invasive by combing through information provided by the NSA and doing what it pleases with it — unless HR 2169 gets booted.

To privacy advocates, this bill would only do more damage to America’s already fragile civil liberties protections. Instead of keeping government officials and workers from having more reasons to abuse their power, this new rule expansion would put more Americans at risk of having their rights violated for entirely new reasons.

If the Fourth Amendment still means anything in this country, it might as well die an agonizing and definite death if Katko’s bill gets to the president’s desk. Are we ready for more TSA and ICE scandals?

Trump Praises Drug Warrior Duterte, Becoming The First US President To Be Honest About The Drug War’s Perverted Roots

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Trump Praises Drug Warrior Duterte, Becoming The First US President To Be Honest About The Drug War’s Perverted Roots

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Before becoming the president, candidate Donald Trump gave anti-drug war activists a sliver of hope.

DuterteWhen Merry Jane magazine ran an article saying the business mogul was more likely to help legalization advocates, in the long run, it based its argument on his past interviews.

Before running for president, Trump heroically attacked the drug war as a whole, Merry Jane reminded its readers, saying that to win the war, we should put an end to it. Unfortunately, President Trump seems to disagree with business mogul Trump — at least that’s what a recent conversation between him and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte suggests.

During the phone call, Trump allegedly congratulated Duterte on the “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Furthermore, he said, “many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing.”

Unlike the business mogul, President Trump seems taken by excitement with the idea that a country like the Philippines isn’t just slaughtering anyone suspected of being involved in the commerce of drugs. Inspired by their president’s encouragement, many vigilantes and police officers are simply gunning down users and addicts in the streets, sometimes in front of the whole neighborhood and with no due process.

Officially, only a little over 2,000 people in the Philippines have been gunned down by cops this way, but vigilantes appear to also be doing the dirty work so that nobody keeps count. And it’s this type of horrific approach to the drug “problem” that got the U.S. president overjoyed.

In America, killings aren’t happening as often, but thanks to U.S. laws targeting use and commerce of drugs, many otherwise non-violent and productive individuals are wasting their lives away in jail. Perhaps, when Trump shows praise for Duterte, he is only being honest; a  first for a U.S. president ever since the drug war was officially launched by President Richard Nixon.

At the time, the administration claimed the drug war was about an ongoing public health crisis. Later, the crusade became much more violent, with presidents and advocates saying it was all about public safety. As this war became militarized, with surplus equipment from U.S. interventions abroad falling in the hands of local police departments, it also became bloodier. But as these same presidents stood there, defending the war on drugs, they also condemned brutal shows of violence abroad.

As they intervene in foreign countries’ affairs in the name of democracy, they even impose sanctions on countries that impose brutal sentences on alleged criminals. But not once has any of these elected presidents admitted how absolutely immoral, bloody, and insane U.S. drug war truly is.

When Trump congratulates Duterte for doing what we see happening in America fairly regularly, he’s at least showing how sickly perverted politicians and their policies are instead of trying to dress up the anti-drug crusade as a quixotic pursuit for health and safety for all. And for that, Trump deserves praise.

But not his policies or Duterte’s, though. After all, individuals own their bodies and only they have a say in what they will put in it — not bureaucrats or police officers.

 

Chronic Conditions and Big Government’s Unintended Consequences

in Drugs, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Chronic Conditions and Big Government’s Unintended Consequences

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Cake is a film that follows the life of a woman after a car accident took the life of her young son and left her with debilitating, chronic pain.

chronic Aniston’s character lives with visible scars, insomnia, and pain so intense that she can barely sit without help. The movie shows her daily struggles with herself and those around her while she tries to come to terms with her new ‘normal.’

One scene sticks out to me as an all-too-familiar example of how big government makes decisions for us in the name of “helping.”

Because Aniston’s pain is constant, she goes through prescription pain pills faster than her refill dates will allow her to get more. And because of the stigma that surrounds chronic pain patients, Aniston’s local pharmacy won’t provide her with her medicine out of the fear that she is misusing her prescriptions to sell them on the street.

Taking matters into her own hands, she convinces her housekeeper to drive her across the border into Mexico to obtain the medication she needs. Because she doesn’t have the prescription needed to claim the medicine at the border, she smuggles it through a false compartment in a statue of St. Jude.

In essence, she’s willing to break the law in order to enhance her quality of life.

Starting this year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will be enforcing new rules that limit the accessibility of almost every Schedule II opioid pain medication manufactured in the U.S. by 25 percent or more. This eliminates phone-in refills and mandates a check-in with a doctor every 90 days for a refill in an effort to curb opioid drug abuse and addiction.

In the United States, Schedule III and IV drugs, (like Xanax, Suboxone, etc.) are treated similarly. Moreover, a government ID must be presented in order to obtain things like cold medicine which could potentially be used to make Schedule I drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, etc.

If I were to buy nasal decongestant in my home state of Indiana, not only would I need to present my driver’s license to the pharmacist, but my name, address, license number, and other personal information must be reported to the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Meth Investigation System.

In an effort to continue the failed war on drugs, lawmakers are pushing regulations that have unintended consequences, specifically for those who suffer from chronic conditions. More regulations mean more time and money spent on unnecessary doctors visits. And for many, it means making those trips up to 12 times a year or more.

Wouldn’t we be better off if we were able to make our own health decisions with our doctors rather than letting the government make them for us?

California Deputies Caught Selling Stolen Marijuana On The Side

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

California Deputies Caught Selling Stolen Marijuana On The Side

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The drug war is a disaster on many levels, especially because it ignores the most basic principle there is, that the individual owns his body and only he has the right to do with it as he pleases.

marijuanaBut the drug war is also a failure when it comes to helping bring an end to violent crime, which stems from the black market created precisely because of the existence of restrictive laws concerning drug commerce and use in the first place.

And as it turns out, the disastrous war on drugs has also failed law enforcement, by giving officers incentives to be corrupt.

In California, two former Kern County deputies pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. What’s worse, they did so by abusing their positions within the law enforcement agency.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Logan August, 30, and Derrick Penney, 34, conspired with an informant for the police to steal marijuana that had been seized during investigations.

Once stolen marijuana was in their hands, August and Penney would then trim it then deliver it to one of their confidential informants who would then sell the stolen property. The proceeds were shared with August and Penney, along with another accomplice.

The instances involving theft and the distribution of marijuana happened more often, officials found, as an additional 25 pounds of marijuana had been stolen by the deputies.

The fact August served as a “peace officer” assigned to a narcotics unit helped, as he spent the period between March and December 2014 participating in marijuana-related operations.

According to the DOJ, he stole marijuana on at least ten separate occasions.

After this embarrassment to Kern County, officers involved in this scheme will spend only 5 years in jail for selling marijuana — not for stealing private property.

When laws meant to make us “safer” end up creating incentives for law enforcers to become criminals, you bet that they are also creating a lot of perverted incentives to those being hunted down by the police.

When government pushes a particular practice or substance into the shadows, they are also giving individuals incentives to distort the markets. Instead of working to beat the competition by providing better services and goods, they resort to simply killing their competitors, literally or figuratively by sabotaging their business. Corrupt law enforcement agents like the two deputies in Kern County saw a way to benefit from it, despite the fact they had sworn to uphold the law at all costs.

Ending the war on drugs is the only way to put an end to this vicious cycle.

 

The Myth Of An Independent FBI Persists, Here’s Why It Matters

in Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

The Myth Of An Independent FBI Persists, Here’s Why It Matters

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

As the entire world talks about President Donald J. Trump having fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey, many call for the current administration and Congress to only allow for a new director who has no ties to either political party. In other words, a true free-thinker whose only concern is to uphold the law of the land.

FBIThey call for a truly “independent” bureau that will “restore public confidence in our law enforcement and government.”

But while they claim that the bureau is — or should be — an independent agency, it operates under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice, responding to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. And whether you like it or not, these positions are filled by presidential appointments. Calling the bureau anything but a state agency that responds to those in power is but a feel-good fantasy.

Don’t believe me? So don’t take my word for it. Look at the history of this agency and see for yourself how blatantly ideological this particular law enforcement body has been over the decades.

Looking at the bureau’s inception as we currently know it, ask yourself: Has the bureau been run by individuals without any strong political affiliations and ideologies?

As its first director, the man who made the FBI what it is, J. Edgar Hoover, used the agency’s surveillance power to go after presidents he disliked, waging a war against Americans over their very thoughts. To him, keeping criminals at bay wasn’t enough, as he was determined to undermine the First Amendment to the Constitution at every turn.

Because of his obsession with his work and his vision of what law and order was, many believe he kept tabs on politicians so that he would have bargain power over them — that’s probably why he was never fired.

Does he seem like a trustworthy, independent man whose goal was to simply uphold the Constitution to you?

After Hoover, many other partisan hacks took over the bureau, such as Louis Freeh, a President Bill Clinton appointee who ran the bureau during some of the most controversial periods of its existence.

He was involved in a civil liberties suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that claimed the FBI had abused its power while investigating a short fictional film discussing riots and a military takeover of New York City. But before that in 1993, he was the head of the organization while an investigation into the deadly Waco, Texas compound incident prompted many to say the bureau was covering up evidence that incriminated the government.

Robert Mueller, the American lawyer who served as the FBI director between 2001 and 2013, may have been appointed by President George W. Bush, but he served both under the Republican and President Barack Obama when he tried to make it easier for the FBI to wiretap internet users.

Apparently oblivious of the Fourth Amendment, Mueller hoped to expand a 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, that required “phone and broadband network access providers like Verizon and Comcast to make sure they can immediately comply when presented with a court wiretapping order,” the New York Times reported at the time. Mueller wasn’t satisfied with just presenting the proper legal justification for the takeover of a phone or computer, he was also pushing so that the Silicon Valley would be forced to design devices and backdoors that would give officials instant access to users’ technologies.

Needless to say, this man sounds like everything but a trustworthy, “independent” thinker whose only goal is to fight for the protection of common Americans.

Like all of them, Comey was also a partisan hack in the sense that he was never compelled to do the right thing.

As presidential candidate Hillary Clinton struggled to defend her lies regarding her private email server, Comey made himself seem as a Clinton stooge by dropping the investigation after then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former president Clinton. But that’s not all, he also lied about U.S. mass surveillance to the American public. So whether you believe his firing was or not justified doesn’t make a difference. What matters is that, for as long as the agency is an arm of the federal government, there’s absolutely no chance that anyone involved with it will have an obligation to be an independent thinker who’s not pressured to meet the expectations of their superiors.

The very fact that Trump fired Comey shows that the FBI director must, in one way or another, please the state — and not the people. So the idea that it is possible for a government agency to achieve an independent status is, by definition, a lost cause.When will we finally realize that?

Boy Suspended After ‘Liking’ Instagram Post Of An Airsoft Gun

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Boy Suspended After ‘Liking’ Instagram Post Of An Airsoft Gun

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

When the state — and not principles — steer the course of society, changes in predominant political ideologies will always end up leading the way, putting anyone who stands in opposition of the leading narrative in grave danger.

For a young boy in Ohio, that means that his freedom to simply “like” an Instagram photo of a gun made him a pariah.

GunAccording to Fox News, middle school student Zachary Bowling was suspended from Edgewood Middle School after the institution learned his tastes were unsavory according to the powers that be.

According to the suspension notice he received, the school admitted that he had been penalized for “[l]iking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.”

But the image in question did not portray violence. As a matter of fact, the photograph of a weapon alone could mean a host of things — self-defense and freedom, for instance.

Regardless, Bowling hadn’t event hit the “Like” button to express his approval of an actual gun. Instead, he had liked the photo of an airsoft gun, which is used in a game that eliminates opponents by hitting each other with spherical non-metallic pellets.

Still, Bowling’s parents insist that the boy simply “liked” the picture. He didn’t even comment or recommend the image to anyone else on social media.

“I liked it, scrolling down Instagram at night about 7, 8 o’clock I liked it,” the boy said. “The next morning they called me down [to the office] patted me down and checked me for weapons.”

That’s right. The school was so paranoid that a boy who had liked an airsoft gun could be violent that they even checked him for weapons the next day.

On the same day, parents received an email from the school saying that “school officials were made aware of an alleged threat of a student bringing a gun to school,” which forced them to act. “This morning,” the email continued, “the alleged threat was addressed and we can assure you that all students at Edgewood Middle School are safe and school will continue as normal.”

Claiming that its “zero tolerance” of violent or intimidating behavior by its students as the reason behind the suspension, the school defended its actions when questioned by reporters. Still, they have been unable to explain how “liking” a post of a non-lethal weapon at 7 p.m. while scrolling down your social media counts as intimidating behavior.

What country is this again?

Jeff Sessions Doesn’t Have The Money To Go After Medical Marijuana States — But This Reality Could Change

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Jeff Sessions Doesn’t Have The Money To Go After Medical Marijuana States — But This Reality Could Change

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The problem with political movements championed by libertarians is that, all too often, these victories are vulnerable.

Lawmakers come and go and so do their positions, prompting the new batch of freshly elected legislators to change the law as soon as a lobbyist is able to convince them that the current situation is “unsustainable.” With this, many rules protecting liberties are lost while others are added to the books. But due to this fluctuating system, it’s hard to keep legislators accountable, especially those who have grown used to Washington, D.C., spending more time with the powerful than with their constituents.

Sessions Under President Barack Obama, nullification advocates pushing for anti-drug war initiatives locally were able to pass a series of bills that helped to ease the federal government’s control over their property and personal choices. With that, a series of states passed medical marijuana laws while a few others legalized recreational weed.

But even as states made their own voices heard, telling the feds they were not their boss, Obama doubled down, breaking records that not even George W. Bush dreamed of breaking. Instead of respecting the states and their residents, the past administration dedicated many resources to go after pot farmers and weed sellers in states where the substance was legal.

With President Donald Trump in the White House, many speculated that things would only get worse, especially after he picked Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as his U.S. Attorney General.

But at least for now, it doesn’t seem that way.

Congress has, at least for the time being, blocked the U.S. Department of Justice from spending any taxpayer money on ventures that would interfere with states and their medical marijuana laws.

With the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, lawmakers made provisions that allow states to carry on with the pursuit of their own medical marijuana rules without the fear that the feds would try to restrict them.

So for now, and ever since 2014, the first year this provision was added to the budget, states are protected from rogue government agencies wanting to go after states for having passed their own medical marijuana laws. Even after Sessions issued a stringent warning saying that “it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

So as you can see, working hard for bills to pass so that our liberties are protected is, indeed, very much worth it. The problem is that with each new administration and every new Congress, we run the risk of losing those protections. That’s why it’s important to stay wary — and actively involved. After all, eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.

New ‘Artificial Womb’ Could Save Frail Babies — If Regulators Allow It

in Children's Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

New ‘Artificial Womb’ Could Save Frail Babies — If Regulators Allow It

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Creativity is boundless, and so is the power free and unrestricted markets have to turn needs into accessible goods and services.

Scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have, for the first time ever, created an “artificial womb” that could someday be used to help babies that are born very prematurely.

Womb

While initial tests have only involved fetal lambs, fetal surgeon Alan Flake says they have been “extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model.” If this experiment is successful and they are able to develop a version that would be fit for human use, countless parents across America — and the world — would then have the choice of saving their children from succumbing to certain conditions if they are, for some reason, unable to remain in their mothers’ wombs until the end of their term.

In the study published in the Nature Communications journal, scientists were able to see very premature fetuses develop normally for a month.

“They’ve had normal growth. They’ve had normal lung maturation. They’ve had normal brain maturation. They’ve had normal development in every way that we can measure it,” the surgeon added.

With the goal of testing the technology on very premature human babies within 3 to 5 years, one can only hope bureaucracy doesn’t stand in the way.

According to Medscape, the average length of time a new drug takes to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is 12 years. Developers are also estimated to spend $800 million in the process. With this in mind, Medscape adds, “the regulatory process for medical devices is much shorter and, generally, less stringent and costly.” Still, estimations are that the time it takes to have a medical device approved for market distribution is usually 3 to 7 years.

If this technology is ready to be used in humans within the next 5 years, then this technology might only be available to the overall public in over a decade. With the added costs related to the regulatory process, we may also expect that access to the life-saving device might also be restricted.

All in all, if the red tape surrounding life-saving treatments and devices were finally cut for good, the medical field would be much more competitive and, as a result, devices and treatments would be readily available to those in need.

Those who oppose free markets, as you can see, are thus missing out on how they could help save lives.

Bett Mum: The Woman Who Ended Slavery Long Before Lincoln

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Bett Mum: The Woman Who Ended Slavery Long Before Lincoln

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

When libertarians talk about competition in the free market, many think only of competition between providers of goods and services. What they often forget is that, as the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises once explained, economics “is about human choice and action.”

SlaveryIn a hampered environment where institutions put in existence long before our conception set the rules, a free individual will often feel overwhelmed by the many restrictions imposed on his or her natural rights. And sometimes in history, many individuals like us were so restricted that they had even lost their claim to self-ownership long before their very birth.

Also in history, we see examples of individuals who, faced with this reality, chose to not abide by it, regardless of the consequences. Their courageous stand for integrity would often spark a fire in others. And, inspired by their peaceful resistance, others would soon follow, offering a competing philosophy that would soon shatter the immoral structure of authoritarianism.

This is what happened to Elizabeth Freeman, or Mum Bett, as many have known her.

The first black slave to file and win a freedom suit in the state of Massachusetts lifted no weapons against her oppressors. After all, she was outnumbered and would have been killed if she had. Instead, she did what she could at the time and headed to court. With that, she effectively ended slavery in the Bay State without spilling one drop of blood.

As she heard that “[a]ll men are born free and equal,” and that they “have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties,” she was suddenly taken by the idea of fighting for these rights.

Reaching out to Theodore Sedgwick, an abolition-minded lawyer, she told him she wasn’t a “dumb critter.” Then proceeded to ask, “won’t the law give me my freedom?”

Sedgwick finally accepted her case, adding Brom, another slave, to the suit.

As the Brom and Bett v. Ashley case was heard in August 1781, the jury ruled in Bett’s favor, making her the first African-American woman to be set free under Massachusetts’ constitution.

The Ashleys even paid her damages.

With her newly gained freedom, Bett changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman. She went on to take paid jobs and save enough money to buy her own home, where she later died.

She once defended her search for freedom with the following words:

“Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God’s airth [sic] a free woman— I would.”

Thankfully, she was able to finally enjoy this freedom she had been so in love with without waging war over it. And by helping to provide a competing narrative to establishment practices, she helped others see that there were other ways to fight the state without spilling anybody’s blood in the process.

Drug Lab Scandal Leads To Thousands Of Drug Case Dismissals, But What Does This Prove?

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Drug Lab Scandal Leads To Thousands Of Drug Case Dismissals, But What Does This Prove?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

On Tuesday, the biggest mass dismissal of wrongful convictions took place in a Boston courthouse. As a result, more than 23,000 low-level drug cases were dropped after it was proven that a rogue lab chemist had tainted evidence used to put these people in jail.

LabThis case doesn’t only showcase the tragic and perhaps inherently evil root of immoral laws such as the ones that comprise the U.S. anti-drug effort, it also helps us understand that even the illusion of unaccountability gives people enough incentives to produce poorly, no matter how damaging and nefarious their actions might be.

In this particular case, chemist Annie Dookhan — who worked for a private crime laboratory for ten years and whose co-workers always complained about — finally admitted to falsifying evidence tied to as many as 34,000 cases in 2013. But before then, she spent 10 years in that lab, helping prosecutors put innocent people in jail.

While the former chemist was arrested, she only spent three years in prison — a much shorter sentence than the ones handed to many of those she helped to convict.

But despite pressure to go over the cases impacted by Dookhan years earlier, prosecutors fought for a way to preserve the convictions. Thankfully, in this case, defense lawyers pressed on, helping to bring about 23,000 dismissals.

While Dookhan’s reasoning to have been involved in so many wrong convictions was never made clear, one can surely agree that prosecutors found no harm in accepting results from a chemist with a dubious track record. Why? Because their goal wasn’t to fight for justice but to uphold immoral laws.

When the state has the power to tell a consumer he or she isn’t allowed to do with their bodies what they will, the state also has the power to bend other rules. When not enough people are being convicted of drug-related charges, throwing caution to the wind and fabricating convictions out of thin air isn’t out of the question. With enablers such as Dookhan ready to please, it’s no wonder the number of drug convictions continues to rise, even as the number of overdoses also rise — because the state-sponsored war against drugs has nothing to do with safety but a lot to do with control.

So long as there’s a perverse incentive available, there’s always going to be a willing actor to take part in the show. After all, why would prosecutors go after the origin of the drug trade when they have so much low-hanging fruit at hand?

 

What The United Airlines Fiasco Teaches Us About Monopolies

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

What The United Airlines Fiasco Teaches Us About Monopolies

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The United Airlines fiasco has been all over the news — for a good reason.

A passenger who had already been allowed to take his seat had his face bloodied as police officers were asked to physically remove the man from the plane. The incident had followed what many reported as being an issue with an overbooked flight but later, it was discovered that the man had been picked in a lottery to leave the full flight after United noticed it needed four seats for crew members.

United AirlinesThe passenger in question, David Dao, refused to leave the plane, even after the company offered $800 and a hotel stay to whoever accepted to relinquish their seat, and that’s when the police were called in to “help.”

Many have noted that legally speaking, Dao was in the right and United was in the wrong. But what many are ignoring in this story has to do with how we got to a point where a private organization needs the services of the state police to remove a customer who had not broken his contract.

If United had to compete for its customers in a free, open market, would they have treated any customer this way?

Ryan McMaken of the Mises Institute answers that question with an in-depth review of the U.S. airline industry. He explains that, in North America, the four top carriers enjoy 80 percent of the business, putting these four companies in a nearly total control of the domestic flying industry. But that occurs not because these firms form an official, government-backed cartel. Instead, government intervention is so heavy-handed that it provokes an artificial barrier to other airlines, making competition less likely to happen.

Take the U.S. ban on foreign carriers for instance. Because international airlines are not allowed to fly certain point-to-point destinations domestically, only domestic airlines have the privilege of doing so. Economically ignorant politicians defend this policy by saying that this protects American workers and consumers. Unfortunately, this particular protectionist policy has the exact opposite effect, as fewer companies mean fewer options for both job seekers and flyers.

Down the line, as competition is stifled and domestic companies enjoy an artificial monopoly over the industry, the consumer suffers greatly, as the top four carriers are allowed to act erratically and still have a virtual control of the market. With no options but to fly using one of these protected firms, these consumers are then forced to undergo severe mistreatment. In a free market, this type of incident could have destroyed United, but in an environment where protectionism rules, United will suffer for some time before it bounces back up as few companies are able to compete.

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