Next Big Thing? Weed Beer, Folks

❝ For large beverage companies, the push into pot is all about the fear of missing out. After getting beat on trends including craft beer, coconut water, and flavored seltzer, the drink giants don’t want to miss the next trendy ingredient: cannabis. Whether it’s the THC that gets you high or the nonpsychoactive CBD, weed components are being infused into drinks with an eye toward the mass market…

Legal marijuana sales are expected to rise to $11 billion in the U.S. this year, from $9 billion in 2017, and cannabis-infused beverages account for less than 1 percent of that. But a recent report from the bank Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. estimated that sales of drinks infused with THC or CBD, forecast to make up 20 percent of the edibles market, will reach $600 million in sales in the U.S. by 2022. In Colorado, which became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2014, sales of cannabis drinks almost doubled in 2017 and are up an additional 18 percent in the first half of this year, according to Flowhub LLC, which tracks marijuana sales data.

If you’re an investor don’t miss the chance to catch the next wave. Someone like me who doesn’t smoke ANYTHING and simply stopped drinking most anything alcoholic, as well, from lack of interest years ago is only interested in products which might make for tasty scones or Alice B Toklas brownies. Though I admit to owning a few shares of a leading grower in the Great White North.

White House staff plays key role in deadly drone strikes — and faces no Congressional oversight


Click to enlargeNorthrop Grumman

The White House staff for national security, exempt from review by Congress, plays a substantial role in the process for killing suspected terrorists, according to a newly released document on drone strikes.

The 2013 document, known informally as the “playbook” for Barack Obama’s signature counterterrorism operations, was released on Saturday by the justice department as the result of court requests by the American Civil Liberties Union. The playbook provides the closest look to date at the bureaucratic machinery of global killing that Obama will pass on to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

The document designates the National Security Council staff as a body of review over “all operational plans” for either killing or capturing terrorist subjects. Once representatives of various cabinet agencies and departments meet to discuss a specific plan, NSC attorneys provide legal input.

…While the NSC staff plays a role in nominating people for inclusion on the so-called “kill list”, it neither makes the nomination nor involves itself in carrying out a strike or raid.

Such plans include the length of time permissible for killing or capturing people in a designated place, the “strike and surveillance” assets to be used, the specific counter-terrorism objectives to be achieved, and a “near certainty” that civilians will neither be killed nor, for non-lethal action, injured while capturing a target. The NSC staff convenes meetings across agencies for nominating any named “high-value target” to the “kill list”, and passes on those considered validly marked for death to a meeting of cabinet deputies. It also receives written assessments of the results of each strike…

The US justice department released a public version of the three-year-old document…after the ACLU persuaded a federal judge in February to decide against the Obama administration’s argument for total secrecy…

Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU attorney who spearheaded the lawsuit for the playbook’s disclosure, noted the power of the NSC…“The Obama administration notably has taken the position that the NSC is not an agency and is therefore beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act.”

The NSC now has about 400 employees. None are approved by the Senate. They do not testify before Congress. Their records are automagically presumed to be privileged.

#PanamaPapers — the scandal is pretty much legal


“I am not a crook”

In the past few days, hundreds (if not thousands) of media reports have linked the Panamanian wealth management firm Mossack Fonseca to a series of financial crimes. The massive “Panama Papers” leak documents the firm’s involvement in facilitating activities that may constitute fraud, money laundering, and theft, including by officials at the highest levels of governments worldwide. But the real scandal is that most of what Mossack Fonseca and the rest of the wealth-management industry do is perfectly legal.

Anyone reading this article can evade taxes, or even dabble in offshore finance, without expert intervention. With just an Internet connection and a few thousand dollars, anybody can create shell corporations and other offshore vehicles in a matter of minutes. It’s child’s play to dodge taxes, debts, child support, and so on by putting assets in one of those structures — though there is a risk of getting caught, audited, and possibly prosecuted.

But that’s not what many of the world’s richest people are doing: They can afford the privilege of defeating the spirit of the laws without violating them formally. What Mossack Fonseca and its counterparts all over the world really provide is the expertise that allows their clients to stay just on the right side of the law — or far enough into the legal grey zones that the clients have a real chance to prevail if they end up in court. That’s why many of the people who have seemingly been exposed by this leak will likely never face charges of any kind. To the extent that Mossack Fonseca’s work facilitated crime, that was a bug rather than a feature…

Some of the activity uncovered in the Panama Papers will turn out to be illegal. But if past is prologue, then the majority of what we learn from the leak will merely be embarrassing for those exposed — showing them to be opportunistic and perhaps unethical, but not criminal.

RTFA for all the gory details. It ain’t anything your favorite Senator, Congress-critter or Presidential candidate doesn’t already know. Some of them are likely to be practicing what Mossack Fonseca have been preaching for decades.

Kiwis lead in religious liberty — Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster OK’d for marriages

Pastafarians, rejoice! New Zealand has now granted the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the legal right to perform marriage ceremonies — and just in time for ChriFSMas!

…The Church of FSM came into its own in 2005 as a response to the proposal that the fundamentalist Christian theory of Intelligent Design be taught alongside evolution and natural selection in Kansas public schools. Adherents to the church, known as “Pastafarians,” are sometimes seen sporting their religious head coverings — colanders — in passport and official identification photos from countries around the world. While many insist that the Church of FSM cannot possibly be a serious institution, the church’s official website offers this rebuttal:

“The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, after having existed in secrecy for hundreds of years, came into the mainstream just a few years…Some claim that the church is purely a thought experiment or satire, illustrating that Intelligent Design is not a science, just a pseudoscience manufactured by Christians to push Creationism into public schools. These people are mistaken — The Church of FSM is legit, and backed by hard science. Anything that comes across as humor or satire is purely coincidental.”

New Zealand Registrar-General, Jeff Montgomery, explained the decision to grant Pastafarians the right to officiate marriages to stuff.co.nz:

“In considering the matter, I have referred to the Objects of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, reviewed material available online about this organization and considered other organizations already being able to nominate marriage celebrants.

“A review of media and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s international website show a consistent presentation of their philosophies. While some claim this is a ‘parody organization,’ members have rebutted this on a number of occasions.

“As registrar-general, it is my role to apply relevant legislation . . .”

Congratulations to Pastafarians everywhere!

Weed the People

WeedThePeople

“A line this long that never ends and everybody is happy,” marveled Jim Leighton, a 30-year Oregon resident. “Isn’t that great?” He and some 1,300 others stood in a queue that snaked around the block in the sweltering Portland heat Friday afternoon, waiting for entry to an event where they could get up to seven grams of marijuana for nothing more than a smile and a handshake.

Oregon is the fourth state in the United States, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 years and older. But even after parts of the law went into effect Wednesday that legalized possession and growing of small amounts, marijuana still cannot be sold to the general public.

So growers and medical dispensaries at Weed the People found their way around the law by giving away their weed for free, some hoping to use it as a marketing tool later…

On midnight Wednesday as the law went into effect, hundreds gathered on Burnside bridge in downtown Portland in celebration. The bridge was billowing with smoke as the clock struck midnight. But while the original plan was to hand out free samples of marijuana, the overwhelming turnout halted the giveaway.

Two days later, the free handouts proceeded as planned at Weed the People, thought to be the first formal event with free cannabis giveaways – after attendees paid a $40 admission fee to attend.

The alcohol-free event lasted for seven hours, as attendees mulled around to test out smoking devices; relaxed on comfy chairs and listened to records in a “chill out area”; and waited in a line that wound through the inside of a warehouse to enter the “Grow Garden”, the highly secured and roped off area where they could pick up their free goodies. One growing entity, Green Bodhi Gardens, said it brought more than 2,000 grams divided into one-gram jars in anticipation of the crowds…

Restrictions notwithstanding, “people want to celebrate,” said event organizer Josh Taylor. “Oregonians are big on sharing!”

The easiest thing to share still is Good News. As more and more folks are exposed to the reality of attitude-alteration with substances like cannabis versus craptastic amounts of alcohol, mellow stoners versus combative drunks, progress towards an understanding of reality outside the boundaries of conventional politics continues to grow – and grow.

Our culture, our government, our politicians may be characterized by ignorance, stupidity, superstition and bigotry. The fact remains that exposure to reality changes folks’ minds. It’s always too gradual for many; but, it’s inevitable. Even faster if you get on board the freedom train. 🙂

Alaska becomes 3rd state with legal weed

Alaska on Tuesday became the third U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but organizers don’t expect any public celebrations since it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public.

In the state’s largest city, Anchorage police officers are ready to start handing out $100 fines to make sure taking a toke remains something to be done behind closed doors.

Placing Alaska in the same category as Washington state and Colorado with legal marijuana was the goal of a coalition including libertarians, rugged individualists and small-government Republicans who prize the privacy rights enshrined in the Alaska state constitution.

When they voted 53-47 percent last November to legalize marijuana use by adults in private places, they left many of the details to lawmakers and regulators to sort out.

That has left confusion on many matters.

There’s a surprise, eh?

That’s left different communities across the state to adopt different standards of what smoking in public means to them. In Anchorage, officials tried and failed in December to ban a new commercial marijuana industry. But Police Chief Mark Mew said his officers will be strictly enforcing the public smoking ban. He even warned people against smoking on their porches if they live next to a park.

But far to the north, in North Pole, smoking outdoors on private property will be OK as long as it doesn’t create a nuisance, officials there said…

In some respects, the confusion continues a four-decade reality for Alaskans and their relationship with marijuana.

Alaska has been burdened sufficiently with conservatives, religious nutballs and rightwing libertarians to have had any number of changes over the last four decades about what to do over getting a little mellow, being a drunk, how and where to have sex. This is just part of the whole package.

Fortunately, the Leftish flavor of libertarianism plus progressive Dems and Independents seems to be prevailing this week.

Grandmas smoking pot for the first time

Smoking dope for the first time? Mid-1950’s with a fellow poet in the ghetto where his cousin lived. Of course, the weed was mellower, less powerful than even homegrown, nowadays – decades later. First offense, back then, caught with a joint was seven years hard time.

Daniel and I would bake some cornbread and play chess till dawn. I haven’t the slightest recollection who won – or how.

Only a few years later, I quit smoking anything; so, the odd toke at a party seemed stronger every year. And sometimes it would be a dozen years in between.

The last time was still in the 20th Century. At the wet opening of a one-man show here in New Mexico. The artist wanted to sell one of his paintings to a bud of mine who’d invited me to the opening. He trotted out his best local homegrown weed and we each had a couple of tokes. At least that was all I had. It knocked me for a loop and I had to leave before I ended up paralyzed on a couch.

I think it took me three weeks to drive home. 🙂

First same-sex couples legally wed in England and Wales


Teresa Millward and Helen Brearley married in Halifax

The first same-sex weddings have taken place after gay marriage became legal in England and Wales at midnight…Politicians from the main parties have hailed the change in the law.

David Cameron said the move sent a message that people were now equal “whether gay or straight”, but some religious groups remain opposed.

Scotland passed a similar law in February; the first same-sex marriages are expected there in October. Northern Ireland has no plans to follow suit…

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said “Britain will be a different place” as a result…

Labour leader Ed Miliband congratulated those planning to tie the knot…”This is an incredibly happy time for so many gay couples and lesbian couples who will be getting married, but it’s an incredibly proud time for our country as well, recognising equal marriage in law,” he said…


Peter Tatchell (L) chief witness at Peter McGraith and David Cabreza’s wedding in Islington

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell acted as chief witness at a packed ceremony at Islington Town Hall in London just after midnight as Peter McGraith and David Cabreza were wed after 17 years together.

Mr Tatchell said the couple and all the others getting married had “made history” and “made Britain a more tolerant, equal place”.

With a crowd of photographers, journalists and well-wishers waiting, the couple took the opportunity to highlight the international struggle for gay rights.

Mr McGraith said: “Very few countries afford their gay and lesbian citizens equal marriage rights and we believe that this change in law will bring hope and strength to gay men and lesbians in Nigeria, Uganda, Russia, India and elsewhere, who lack basic equality and are being criminalised for their sexual orientation.”

RTFA. It’s the sort of journalistic record of an historic event some corners of the British Press still do very well.

Bon voyage to the happy couples. It’s always a boon to humankind to witness another nation move forward towards equal rights, equal opportunities. Pity, we haven’t reached that point in the GOUSA – though here in New Mexico our citizens of LGBT gender have acquired the right of marriage – moving past one more barrier, one more step beyond second-class citizenship.

US banks can accept legal marijuana money – if you believe?

The Obama administration has sought to lessen the fear of prosecution for banks doing business with licensed marijuana companies, further encouraging US states such as Colorado and Washington that are experimenting with legalising the drug.

The Justice and Treasury departments outlined the policy in writing to federal prosecutors and financial institutions nationwide…

The guidance stopped short of promising immunity for banks, but made clear that criminal prosecution for money laundering and other crimes was unlikely if they met a series of conditions…

Currently, processing money from marijuana sales puts federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges, and they therefore refuse to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses, the AP news agency reported.

The guidance was intended to increase the availability of banking services, such as savings and checking accounts, to marijuana shops that typically deal in cash. Forced to deal in cash because of federal policy…

US Attorney General Eric Holder said last month that the administration was planning ways to accommodate marijuana businesses so they would not always be dealing in cash.

“There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash, substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited, is something that would worry me just from a law enforcement perspective,” Holder said on January 23…

The American Bankers Association expressed scepticism that the guidance would make much difference…Marijuana sales still violate federal law, so banks are still at risk, said Rob Rowe, a lawyer with the trade group.

“Compliance by a bank will still require extensive resources to monitor any of these businesses, and it’s unlikely the benefits would exceed the costs,”…

I asked my favorite banker about this – and received the same answer given by Rowe. As long as the Feds base their practices on existing law, there’s no one willing to be the test case after being arrested for violating federal banking regulations. Even if the DOJ says go ahead – we won’t bust you.

Why should a bank trust pronouncements from a political body unwilling or unable to change their own regulations?