Mendocino County Today: Sunday, June 26, 2016
by AVA News Service, June 25, 2016
IT WAS SO HOT today I saw a dog chasing a cat — and they were both walking. (Johnny Carson)
Clear skies across the region Saturday afternoon as subsidence associated with the high pressure ridge covered the area. High pressure will stay in place through the weekend with mostly clear skies leading to a modest warming trend. Little change expected for next week with high pressure keeping dry weather and above normal inland temperatures in place. Temperatures are warming up and are running about 5-10 degrees warmer compared to Friday, generally in the 70s and 80s in the coastal mountains and 90s or above across the inland valleys. Temperatures will continue to creep upward the next several days as ridge heights and thickness increase, and marine influence remains nearly non-existent inland. Mid-week currently looks to be the hottest days of this heat stretch, with temperatures expected to reach as high as 102 to 107 degrees inland on Tuesday.
Extended outlook: A strong ridge of high pressure will continue to retrograde and build into the west over the long term forecast period, which will continue to bring warm temperatures and mostly clear skies across NorCal. Temperatures Wednesday and Thursday will be well above average with inland valleys in the 100 to 110 range, whereas normal temperatures are between the upper 80s and lower 90s for this time of year. A weak upper level trough of low pressure will approach from the northwest, which should translate to a few degrees cooler across the forecast area for later in the week. However, high temperatures will still reach above normal values in the upper 90s to mid 100s. Chances for precipitation during the long term forecast will be minimal.
— National Weather Service
by Malcolm Macdonald
On June 21st the Board of Directors at Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) approved a 2016-2017 budget with a deficit of slightly more than $900,000. The Board vote was 3-0 for approval, with Kate Rohr absent and Dr. Peter Glusker abstaining. Glusker explained that he could not in good conscience vote to approve a budget with nearly a million dollar deficit built in.
As for Dr. Rohr, she submitted a letter of resignation from the MCDH Board effective last Friday, June 24th. Rohr will retire full time to her home in Maine.
That $900,000 projected budget deficit includes the Obstetrics Department (OB). At the May meeting of MCDH's Planning Committee the Chief of Patient Care Services, Terry Murphy, recited figures that painted OB as a million dollar, or more, loser per year. At that same meeting Chief Executive Officer Bob Edwards was asked if he was in favor of shutting down the OB department. The CEO responded in the affirmative.
No vote was taken at the May Planning Committee meeting regarding a recommendation to the full board of MCDH, primarily because Dr. Glusker asked that more input be given along with more detailed financial data concerning such a closure. At the June 22nd Planning Committee meeting and the special MCDH Board meeting that followed, Dr. Glusker stated that he had made four requests of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wade Sturgeon regarding financial information on the closure of the obstetrics department. According to Glusker the information should be open to any member of the public, but to date Sturgeon has not responded to the four requests for this material.
News/rumor of the possible OB closure got out to enough of the community to cause an overflow audience at the late May MCDH Board meeting. At that meeting CEO Edwards did not repeat his Planning Committee meeting desire to close the obstetrics department. He let Board Chair Tom Birdsell appease most of the audience by declaring that MCDH would host a public forum concerning the matter. That meeting date was confirmed in the following public service announcement released on June 22: “The Mendocino Coast District Hospital will host a Community Meeting on Tuesday, July 12 from 6:00 pm until 8:00pm at the Cotton Auditorium regarding the OB Services. The community is encouraged to attend in order to provide their input and receive information regarding the OB Services.”
Critics of the hospital's administration might have asked for an itemized breakdown of the OB Department's revenues and expenses for the past year. In the budget numbers accompanying the June 22nd Board meeting a theoretical “Budget without OB” attributed a $750,000 savings to a professional physician fees line item; however, no specifics regarding this dollar amount were given. One of the arguments for closing OB is that MCDH is birthing ten or fewer babies a month currently. Given that number the cost of an essentially part time OB physician and equally locum tenens (literally meaning a temporary substitute) pediatrician seems quite high. It would seem obvious that such dollar figures need to be specifically delineated.
According to a source close to the MCDH situation, Mendocino Coast Clinics currently helps to subsidize the hospital's OB Department by providing an on call OB doctor for half of every month at no cost to MCDH along with a pediatrician who does the same. To the best of this writer's knowledge that issue has not been brought up at any public meeting.
The problem with the July 12th meeting may lie in the way Board Chair Tom Birdsell has seemingly set up this public forum. It appears that the public will be allowed to give their ten cents worth, but the Board and/or administration will not respond at that meeting. This could allow CEO Edwards, with a majority of a reduced Board membership/majority (remember Dr. Rohr's resignation) to claim that public input was granted, but the actual decision may truly rest with administrators.
One possible solution to the OB Department problem could be the hiring of a pediatrician for MCDH's affiliated clinic, North Coast Family Health Center (NCFHC). This doctor would see family practice patients at NCFHC half time and serve as the on call OB physician for the hospital the other half. The money generated from family practice would help offset OB and pediatrician salaries.
Administration may claim they have tried to recruit OB and pediatric physicians without result. If so, the precise methods and advertising need to be made public, so there is no air of false claims or cover-up.
Other questions that need to be addressed: Administration has claimed that other hospitals have closed OB without major problems for community members. Were those hospitals as far away as Fort Bragg is from Ukiah? Do those hospital districts reflect socioeconomic situations similar to the Mendocino Coast? MCDH births measured by race and ethnicity show Hispanic births up from 33% of total MCDH births in 2013 to 43% in 2014, the most recent measured year.
The current MCDH budget figures seem at least slightly skewed to present OB in a less than favorable economic light. It could appear to some observers as if revenues associated with OB, like ultrasounds, lab tests, and surgeries are missing from the profit line of the department. A questioner might then ask, why are long sought after pieces of equipment shown as part of the loss line for this past year only?
Though MCDH has birthed only 100 or so babies this year, how many of those hundred mothers would be financially and physically able to travel over the hill to give birth? Before closing OB those statistics need to be known down to a very close approximation.
Then there's the blowback that closing OB will cause MCDH. Without an OB department, Emergency Room (ER) doctors and nurses are going to be responsible for many births on the coast. How many physicians and nurses will shy away from the liability load of emergency room deliveries when the childbirths at MCDH's ER mount into the dozens. One of the reasons given for closing the obstetrics department is the cost of OB trained traveling nurses. How much will those costs skyrocket when traveling nurse's agencies figure out that Fort Bragg's ER will be home to a handful or more of emergency childbirth deliveries each month?
Want another tough question to ask at the July 12th forum? It has been asserted that during the recent bankruptcy procedure the ombudsman assigned to MCDH by the bond agency stated that closing the OB department was not an option. Have MCDH's bondholders been informed about the potential closing of OB?
Hopefully, members of the public will have many more questions of their own on July 12th. Perhaps MCDH Board members and its administrators might consider it prudent to field emails and phone calls from their constituency before and after that date.
*Answers of all sorts abound at the author's website: malcolmmacdonaldoutlawford.com
WE CONTINUE TO HEAR complaint after complaint about the Mendocino County Planning & Building Department’s inexplicable delays in handling even the most straightforward permit application. Reputable contractors we've talked to shake their heads and tell their tales of woe, all of them pretty much the same.
THEY COMPLAIN of nitpicky reviews which could be easily corrected on the spot but which some demanding planners require be redone or resubmitted, different answers to the same question depending on who is spoken to, inability to find and provide code citations which some planners or plan checkers allege should apply, unexpected delays in inspections while contractors sit around waiting, unnecessary costs of extra engineering, no supervision of planners since chief planner Chris Warrick left (therefore no one to appeal to), arguable interpretations of subjective rules with imposition of dubious additional requirements.
IT'S NOT THAT ANYBODY in Ukiah's Department of Building Obfuscation is rude, unless you consider obtuseness rude, it's that they never seem to be on the same page and permits can sit without action for way too long.
YESTERDAY, we posted the County’s proud announcement about waiving big chunks of permit fees for developers and contractors who “create” certain numbers of jobs. That’s nice, albeit highly subjective, of course. But you can't get your project going if it takes forever to get your permit approved with all the extra requirements and charges. And you can't get it approved if every person you talk to cites different regs or simply makes up the rules on the spot or takes forever to issue it.
IF THE COUNTY and the Board of Supervisors want to make Mendo a better place for small businesses (which the permit waivers are presumably aimed at) they need to get a handle on permit processing.
WHICH BRINGS US to our monthly complaint about the total — and we mean TOTAL! — lack of regular reports from all the County's departments with tracking of budgets, staffing, workload and status of workloads.
FOR EXAMPLE, if the Supervisors required the Planning & Building Department to report on permit applications with numbers — date of submission, applicant, description, dollar value, and status — attention would get paid to the permits that are dragging out or are held up. The report how many were submitted, how many approved, and processing times, and should include a list of permits that are still unapproved after a month, and why — and when they will be approved. This would give the Board a way to stay on top of the activity they seem to want to encourage, and give the public a way to see if these complaints are widespread or isolated.
UNFORTUNATELY, SUCH REPORTING WILL NEVER HAPPEN because history shows that the Board and the CEO simply DO NOT WANT TO KNOW what their departments are doing (or more accurately are not doing) because if they knew they might have to do something about it.
AND IN OFFICIAL MENDO, as former Fifth District Supervisor David Colfax told everyone who complained to him during his twelve year tenure, the iron rule has always been: Nothing can be done.
LAST WEEK we applied for a permit to build three steps and a tiny deck to access a construction trailer. Time consumed by the application? Two trips over the hill from Boonville by two different persons and six hours later, we had the permit, but not before we were told that a rule obtained that no one could find. You'd have thought we were building a skyscraper.
FORMER MENDO JUDGE, JAMES 'JIM' LUTHER has written an odd memoir-ish account of his life as a Mendocino County judge. The book is called "Tales of the Last County Judge.” Tales is right. Court cases are disguised, names of the persons involved are changed unnecessarily, considering everything that goes on in a courtroom is public record. Oddly, as he prose-plods on making interesting events boring, Luther is pretty good at descriptive prose:
"He turned and looked at the back wall behind the audience section, up at the Twelve Framed Visages staring down at him. Twelve portraits all in a row, the first two of them drawings, the rest old photographs: All the judges who had sat there before him, one at a time, all the way back to the mid-1800s when the state was brand new and court was first held in the county…"
BACK to the drawing board, Jimbo. Write another book, but this time let 'er rip.
WILDLIFE NOTES, A READER WRITES: "About 10:00 I get a call from Boonville where a guy has been observing an abandoned baby squirrel all day, and that the mother hasn't returned for it. I swear to myself and tell the guy to bring the squirrel to my house. We nursed the little cutie all night with syringes of Pedialite, and he perked right up. Next day, I come to find out that there is NO official wild animal rescue service in Mendocino County whatsoever. I'm told this by Sonoma County folks who are trying to take up the slack. "Little Chipper" lucked out because the Sonoma County Wild Bird Rescue folks were in Hopland at Real Good's 20th anniversary event. They kindly took Chipper to the mammal rescue people in Sonoma County, where he will be raised until he's old enough to be released back into the wild. Yet again, I'm amazed that in a county such as this, there would be no organized group of crazy animal people who would jump at the chance to take on the care of injured/baby/abandoned critters. I did speak to one woman who is in the process of forming a non-profit in the county for this purpose, so maybe this will happen sometime in the future."
MARSHALL NEWMAN WONDERS, Why did the coyote cross the road? “I’m not sure, but it did; Highway 128 near Peachland, Friday at about 9am. A big one, too. I’ve encountered coyotes in AV’s back country in recent years, but never one on the local thoroughfare in broad daylight."
I once enjoyed an interesting stand-off with a coyote in the wilderness across the street from my house on AV Way. I was at one end of a culvert, the coyote at the other. We stared at each other for several minutes without either of us moving. I understood then why the Indians considered them magical creatures. I had the distinct feeling the thing was laughing at me.
THE LOCAL ANGLE: A scandal involving the city management of Beaumont, California, Riverside County, turns out to have tentacles reaching Mendocino County: Beaumont Suspects Own Coastal Land, 60 Bank Accounts
Eggers’ Mendocino Property at 10550 Lansing Street, Mendocino (next door to Village Spirits liquor store)
CANARY is a sweet, friendly dog who loves going for long walks with our volunteers. She greets everyone with a smile, a wag and a kiss. When you meet her, it's pretty hard not to smile also. Canary would love a home where she gets exercise and cuddle time, and is included in activities. She seems fine with other dogs and we think she would do well with kids. We always suggest a meet and greet with any dogs who are part of your family. This gorgeous girl is going to be someones very best friend! Canary is a Cattle Dog X, 40 svelte pounds and 1-12/ years old.
SANSA beautiful, loyal and sweet. This little kitten is sure to provide a lifetime of delight and companionship. Sansa loves to lounge around and be petted, but at times will occasionally play with cat toys. She does well with other cats and enjoys the company of children.
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah. Call the Adoption Coordinator for more information--707-467-6453. Don't forget to visit and bookmark the shelter's official website: www.mendoanimalshelter.com.
We're also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 25, 2016
Berg, Brackett, Brandt
ROBERT BERG, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance.
CAMERON BRACKETT, Potter Valley. DUI.
MARK BRANDT, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear.
Contreras, Cortina, Cosman
RICARIDO CONTRERAS, Calpella. Protective order violation.
CHRISTOPHER CORTINA, Ukiah. Probation violation.
SHANNON COSMAN, Willits. Trespassing, probation revocation.
Feng, Gunby, Lopez-Fugate
LIANG FENG, Sacramento/Mendocino. Commercial taking of abalone.
JAMES GUNBY, Fort Bragg. Probation violation.
LISA LOPEZ-FUGATE, Ukiah. Vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, controlled substance.
Madrid, McGee, Mendoza
DENNALYNN MADRID, Redwood Valley. Drunk in public.
MICHAEL MCGEE, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
FRANCISCO MENDOZA, Willits. DUI, probation revocation.
Peacock, Pollick, Slaughter
JUSTIN PEACOCK, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
ALAN POLLICK JR., Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
PATRICK SLAUGHTER, North Highlands/Fort Bragg. Attempted murder, sexual penetration by foreign object by force, violence, duress or menace, oral copulation by force, violence, duress or menace, domestic assault, kidnapping, armed with firearm.
OUR ONLY CHOICE
Jill Stein for President.
This November, it looks as if Jill Stein will be the only Presidential Candidate that you and I can be proud to vote for. She is not tainted by the corruption underlying the Democratic Party and its control by the large corporations. She has a good grasp of economic and international issues. She supports strengthening of social security, food stamps and other social equity programs. She would fight to invest federal money in infrastructure rebuilding and reverse the trend towards ever bigger and more worthless defense budgets. She is not beholden to large corporate donors and to foreign governments as is Hillary Clinton.
The Clinton campaign will emphasize the dangers of Donald Trump as if he still has a real chance of winning. The Main Stream Media (MSM) will try to put a fear of Trump foremost while being careful not to put the spotlight upon Hillary's corruption, her husband's rabid dishonesty, and her frightening foreign policy ideas. As we are already seeing, Trump is fading fast, but the MSM will prop him up as the straw man with the blondish hair. A vote for Jill Stein may not have much of a chance this time, but should she get 20% or more of the total vote it will certainly improve the prospects for a Third Party Candidate in the year 2020 and a break with the Look-Alike two party system we have now.
Man, the Schwarzenegger thing is so awesome. Way more poignant than it needs to be. If somebody doesn't get this on film, they and we are missin' it. Arnie's first film I know of was 'Stay Hungry,' with a cast I don't recall otherwise and a simple story: Simple country fiddler-boy (Arnie) does a Mr. Smith Goes To Washington run and gets steamrolled for his trouble. See Arnie's face and demeanor after his 'tour' as California's Chief Executive? All that doesn't happen just from the diet and the flourescent lights thirty six hours a day. The ironies flailing about this story are seismic. And the cast!
“The Eel River is the third largest river entirely in California. While it was once home to one of the most productive salmon and steelhead fisheries on the West Coast, the health of the watershed has been declining for the past century and a half. Conditions throughout the system are degraded, putting strain on native fish and other wildlife.”
A popular false narrative that is kept alive by periodic repeates. The Eel River Watershed is highly erosive, and the role people play and have played to alter this condition one way or another over the years is insignificant. Salmon and Steelhead populations in the Eel, as in all of our North Coast watersheds, are primarily effected by ocean conditions that influence salmon and steelhead ocean food supply, and predation.
What we know is that we had robust populations of salmon and steelhead for a hundred years while we were doing all the wrong things to freshwater salmon and steelhead habitat. Then in 1977, the fish population crashed. And it crashed in all streams, including the Eel, regardless of whether there were significant human impacts. What we have seen since, is a new normal where often times there is more freshwater fish habitat than there are fish.
Freshwater fish habitat has been studied to death, and continues to be studied. What is seen is that sediment inputs are not well correlated with fish populations, neither is water temperature. The most significant freshwater correlation on fish population is with “structure” or heavy wood debris that provides habitat for young salmon and steelhead as they spend their early life before going to sea.
Currently, the best correlation that somewhat predicts fish populations is ocean upwelling, that provides nutrients for the ocean food chain. What is not known is to what extent nonhuman salmon and steelhead predation in the ocean, and competition for food from other species, including whales, is having on the marine environment and salmon and steelhead populations.
(— George Hollister)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I have been on this “brexit” story like flies on poop for the past 48 hours.
One of its more interesting elements was the arrival of Trump and a modest sized hand picked entourage by fortuitous happenstance at one of his recently refurbished golf courses in Scotland. For the briefest of moments (11 seconds I believe) he began his comments with a mention of the brexit referendum and then he launched into 12 minutes of praise and hype for the golf course whose restoration his son Eric had directed for the past two years.
By my own less than perfect word count Trump used the word “incredible” 117 times, “amazing” 61 times, and “many many” (as in “I have ‘many many’ German friends and they are all planning to leave Germany”) 13 times. I was surprised and impressed with his intimate knowledge of the golf course itself, the various hole numbers, the features of each and their pars, etc. You would think he had played the course a hundred times. If he knew one tenth as much about foreign affairs he would crush Hillary this November.
These are the kinds of orations we can expect for four years when he becomes our president.
He then began to accept questions from the press and they were ALL about the brexit referendum and none about the golf course. I guess this was to be expected. And I was surprised how many questions he took. He never seemed to tire of the questions and even when he finally said “OK, one more question” he actually went ahead and took two questions.
During this Q and A I noticed a trick Trump uses. To wit, almost instantaneously after a question has been asked — and often before the interrogatory is complete — Trump will begin a response as though he is so well versed in the subject that he has no need for even a moment’s reflection. The fact is we all know that if he was a totally honest man he would respond to most of these questions by saying “Well, if truth be told, I have no expertise and no clue about that question.”
But what politician on earth would ever give such a refreshing answer?
BREXIT DEFEATED an overwhelming array of what Zygmunt Bauman defined as the global elites of liquid modernity; the City of London, Wall Street, the IMF, the Fed, the European Central Bank (ECB), major hedge/investment funds, the whole interconnected global banking system.
— Pepe Escobar
MEAT LOAF'S "PARADISE BY THE DASH BOARD LIGHT"
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anybody who needs their spirits lifted. See YouTube. Absolutely hilarious and wonderful rock and roll.
LUCAS’S Museum of Narrative Art is heading back this way. Someday we may be able to examine the below masterpiece on Treasure Island.
John King thinks it's a great idea, but then he also thinks Octavia Blvd is a "triumph," this highrise is "exciting," and this joke of a building is "imposing and calm."
Aaron Peskin, who once litigated over the inadequate environmental review of the Treasure Island project, now thinks supporting the over-development of the island is all good now and may help him when he runs for mayor, since he's always had an undeserved reputation as anti-development. Peskin actually has always been pro-development — as long as it doesn't get too close to his home in North Beach.
Rob Anderson (Courtesy, District5Diary)
A YOUNGISH MAN STOOD on the terrace of a very ugly house. He ran out to meet us. He was wearing white flannels and a charming shirt decorated with sea horses. A bunch of gold holy medals tinkled in the open neck. His hands and complexion were white as asses' milk; his face, a long oval with slightly softened contours crested by a plume of silvery hair, was a generic face: one of those inherited handsome faces of Goya's minor courtiers, where the acumen, pride and will of an earlier mould have run to fatuity and craft; a set face, narrow, stiff and sad. He turned out one of the kindest men I ever met.
— Sybille Beford, ‘A Visit to Don Otavio’
THE WAR ON WEED IS WINDING DOWN,
BUT WILL MONSANTO EMERGE THE WINNER?
by Ellen Brown
In April, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis, a form of the plant popularly known as marijuana. That makes nearly half of US states. A major barrier to broader legalization has been the federal law under which all cannabis – even the very useful form known as industrial hemp – is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance that cannot legally be grown in the US. But that classification could change soon. In a letter sent to federal lawmakers in April, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said it plans to release a decision on rescheduling marijuana in the first half of 2016.
The presidential candidates are generally in favor of relaxing the law. In November 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing the plant, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws. Hillary Clinton would not go that far but would drop cannabis from a Schedule I drug (a deadly dangerous drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse) to Schedule II (a deadly dangerous drug with medical use and high potential for abuse). Republican candidate Donald Trump says we are losing badly in the war on drugs, and that to win that war all drugs need to be legalized.
But it is Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein who has been called “weed’s biggest fan.” Speaking from the perspective of a physician and public health advocate, Stein notes that hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from chronic pain and cancers are benefiting from the availability of medical marijuana under state laws. State economies are benefiting as well. She cites Colorado, where retail marijuana stores first opened in January 2014. Since then, Colorado’s crime rates and traffic fatalities have dropped; and tax revenue, economic output from retail marijuana sales, and jobs have increased.
Among other arguments for changing federal law is that the marijuana business currently lacks access to banking facilities. Most banks, fearful of FDIC sanctions, won’t work with the $6.7 billion marijuana industry, leaving 70% of cannabis companies without bank accounts. That means billions of dollars are sitting around in cash, encouraging tax evasion and inviting theft, to which an estimated 10% of profits are lost. But that problem too could be remedied soon. On June 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to prevent the Treasury Department from punishing banks that open accounts for state-legal marijuana businesses.
Boosting trade in the new marijuana market is not a good reason for decriminalizing it, of course, if it actually poses a grave danger to health. But there have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose in the US. Not that the herb can’t have problematic effects, but the hazards pale compared to alcohol (30,000 deaths annually) and to patented pharmaceuticals, which are now the leading cause of death from drug overdose. Prescription drugs taken as directed are estimated to kill 100,000 Americans per year.
Behind the War on Weed: Taking Down the World’s Largest Agricultural Crop
The greatest threat to health posed by marijuana seems to come from its criminalization. Today over 50 percent of inmates in federal prison are there for drug offenses, and marijuana tops the list. Cannabis cannot legally be grown in the US even as hemp, a form with very low psychoactivity. Why not? The answer seems to have more to do with economic competition and racism than with health.
Cannabis is actually one of the oldest domesticated crops, having been grown for industrial and medicinal purposes for millennia. Until 1883, hemp was also one of the largest agricultural crops (some say the largest). It was the material from which most fabric, soap, fuel, paper and fiber were made. Before 1937, it was also a component of at least 2,000 medicines.
In early America, it was considered a farmer’s patriotic duty to grow hemp. Cannabis was legal tender in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800s. Americans could even pay their taxes with it. Benjamin Franklin’s paper mill used cannabis. Hemp crops produce nearly four times as much raw fiber as equivalent tree plantations; and hemp paper is finer, stronger and lasts longer than wood-based paper. Hemp was also an essential resource for any country with a shipping industry, since it was the material from which sails and rope were made.
Today hemp is legally grown for industrial use in hundreds of countries outside the US. A 1938 article in Popular Mechanics claimed it was a billion-dollar crop (the equivalent of about $16 billion today), useful in 25,000 products ranging from dynamite to cellophane. New uses continue to be found. Claims include eliminating smog from fuels, creating a cleaner energy source that can replace nuclear power, removing radioactive water from the soil, eliminating deforestation, and providing a very nutritious food source for humans and animals.
To powerful competitors, the plant’s myriad uses seem to have been the problem. Cannabis competed with the lumber industry, the oil industry, the cotton industry, the petrochemical industry and the pharmaceutical industry. In the 1930s, the plant in all its forms came under attack.
Its demonization accompanied the demonization of Mexican immigrants, who were then flooding over the border and were widely perceived to be a threat. Pot smoking was part of their indigenous culture. Harry Anslinger, called “the father of the war on weed,” was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a predecessor to the Drug Enforcement Administration. He fully embraced racism as a tool for demonizing marijuana. He made such comments as “marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others,” and “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
In 1937, sensational racist claims like these caused recreational marijuana to be banned; and industrial hemp was banned with it. Classification as a Schedule I controlled substance came in the 1970s, with President Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs. The Shafer Commission, tasked with giving a final report, recommended against the classification; but Nixon ignored the commission.
According to an April 2016 article in Harper’s Magazine, the War on Drugs had political motives. Top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman is quoted as saying in a 1994 interview:
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. . . . We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
Competitor or Attractive New Market for the Pharmaceutical Industry?
The documented medical use of cannabis goes back two thousand years, but the Schedule I ban has seriously hampered medical research. Despite that obstacle, cannabis has now been shown to have significant therapeutic value for a wide range of medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, lung disease, anxiety, muscle spasms, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis pain.
New research has also revealed the mechanism for these wide-ranging effects. It seems the active pharmacological components of the plant mimic chemicals produced naturally by the body called endocannabinoids. These chemicals are responsible for keeping critical biological functions in balance, including sleep, appetite, the immune system, and pain. When stress throws those functions off, the endocannabinoids move in to restore balance.
Inflammation is a common trigger of the disease process in a broad range of degenerative ailments. Stress triggers inflammation, and cannabis relieves both inflammation and stress. THC, the primary psychoactive component of the plant, has been found to have twenty times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.
CBD, the most-studied non-psychoactive component, also comes with an impressive list of therapeutic benefits, including not against cancer but as a super-antibiotic. CBD has been shown to kill “superbugs” that are resistant to currently available drugs. This is a major medical breakthrough, since for some serious diseases antibiotics have reached the end of their usefulness.
Behind the Push for Legalization
The pharmaceutical industry both has much to gain and much to lose from legalization of the cannabis plant in its various natural forms. Patented pharmaceuticals have succeeded in monopolizing the drug market globally.
What that industry does not want is to be competing with a natural plant that anyone can grow in his backyard, which actually works better than very expensive pharmaceuticals without side effects. Letitia Pepper, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is a case in point. A vocal advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use, she says she has saved her insurance company $600,000 in the last nine years, using medical marijuana in place of a wide variety of prescription drugs to treat her otherwise crippling disease. That is $600,000 the pharmaceutical industry has not made, on just one patient. There are 400,000 MS sufferers in the US, and 20 million people who have been diagnosed with cancer sometime in their lives. Cancer chemotherapy is the biggest of big business, which would be directly threatened by a cheap natural plant-based alternative.
The threat to big industry profits could explain why cannabis has been kept off the market for so long. More suspicious to Pepper and other observers is the sudden push to legalize it. They question whether Big Pharma would allow the competition, unless it had an ace up its sleeve.
Although the movement for marijuana legalization is a decades-old grassroots effort, the big money behind the recent push has come from a few very wealthy individuals with links to Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company and producer of genetically modified seeds. In May of this year, Bayer AG, the giant German chemical and pharmaceutical company, made a bid to buy Monsanto. Both companies are said to be working on a cannabis-based extract.
Natural health writer Mike Adams warns:
“[W]ith the cannabis industry predicted to generate over $13 billion by 2020, becoming one of the largest agricultural markets in the nation, there should be little doubt that companies like Monsanto are simply waiting for Uncle Sam to remove the herb from its current Schedule I classification before getting into the business.
“…[O]ther major American commodities, like corn and soybeans, are on average between 88 and 91 percent genetically modified. Therefore, once the cannabis industry goes national, and that is most certainly primed to happen, there will be no stopping the inevitability of cannabis becoming a prostituted product of mad science and shady corporate monopoly tactics.”
With the health benefits of cannabis now well established, the battlefield has shifted from its decriminalization to who can grow it, sell it, and prescribe it. Under existing California law, patients like Pepper are able to grow and use the plant essentially for free. New bills purporting to legalize marijuana for recreational use impose regulations that opponents say would squeeze home growers and small farmers out of the market, would heighten criminal sanctions for violations, and could wind up replacing the natural cannabis plant with patented, genetically modified (GMO) plants that must be purchased year after year. These new bills and the Monsanto/Bayer connection will be the subject of a follow-up article.
(Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
BORN FREE MAP: Where can you own wild animals.
THE SMELL OF THE OLD BLACK LAKE.
"They say it's all the bodies of all the drowned picnickers, and all the leftovers from all those picnics, mummified by dark and cold, suspended at various depths, depending on the weight of their sins."
The recording of last night's (2016-06-24) 107.7fm KNYO (and 105.1 KMEC) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is available to download and listen to via
It begins with the very end of brilliant mathematician Vi Hart's impassioned, dismayed essay on Christina Grimmie, Orlando and the balance of trust and fear. You'll want to hear all of that so a link is provided.
Also at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a raft of links to not necessarily radio-useful but worthwhile things to see and do and learn about, such as:
Black Hole Sun, the lounge version.
Fireworks being fireworks. The fireworks are blameless, here. They had no say in the matter.
Guido Fawkes' signature before and after.
And nuclear landscape art. Pricy. Worth it?
TOO STRAIGHT, WHITE AND CORPORATE:
Why some queer people are skipping SF Pride
DIED IN '97
Whither Earth First??
Currently on the Earth First! newswire there is a news item about rape, and specifically the conduct of long time activist Rod Coronado, in regard to his behavior with his former wife and other women. I put a reply on both of the two items, in which I stated that this is a matter for the civil courts, and I asked: 1. Have criminal charges been filed?, and 2. Has a law suit been enacted? I also questioned the appropriateness of the news items, insofar as they have nothing to do with core Earth First! ecological concerns. I did state in my reply to the second article that my heart dictates that I be gracious, so I am in favor of the items being on the Earth First! newswire "for consideration". Lastly, I stated that of course we are all in solidarity with abused individuals in the Earth First! social milieu. Both of my replies were removed!! Whither Earth First??
Craig Louis Stehr