New Survey Data Show Adolescent Vaping Remains Far Less Common Than It Was a Few Years Ago


Vaping teen

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), nicotine vaping among teenagers has fallen dramatically since 2019, undercutting fears about an “epidemic” of such behavior. Last spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which oversees the survey, suggested that drop might be illusory because the COVID-19 pandemic reduced youth access to vaping products. But the latest NYTS results, published today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), indicate that the adolescent vaping rate is only slightly higher this year than it was 2021, even though nearly all students have returned to in-person schooling.

The CDC still refuses to acknowledge the decline in adolescent vaping since 2019, which is consistent with the downward trend found in another government-sponsored survey. The agency implausibly suggests that methodological changes—in particular, the switch to an online survey—might account for the sharp decrease. That argument reflects the CDC’s determination to maintain public alarm about adolescent vaping, regardless of what the data show.

The CDC also refuses to acknowledge that the downward trend in adolescent smoking not only continued but accelerated as vaping took off, let alone acknowledge the positive implications of that shift. And it continues to cite underage consumption as a reason to restrict adult access, notwithstanding the lifesaving potential of replacing smoking with vaping.

The rates of past-month e-cigarette use measured by the NYTS are slightly higher this year than last year: 14.1 percent vs. 11.3 percent among high school students and 3.3 percent vs. 2.8 percent among middle school students. The latter increase was not statistically significant. Among high school students, the 2022 rate is nearly 50 percent lower than the peak recorded in 2019 (27.5 percent). The CDC says nothing about that striking decline, except to suggest that it is misleading.

“Because of changes in methodology, including differences in survey administration
and data collection procedures, the ability to compare estimates from 2022 with
those from previous NYTS waves is limited,” a footnote in the MMWR article warns.  “Differences between estimates might be due to changes in methodology, actual behavior, or both.”

The premise underlying the CDC’s skepticism is that students who respond to the NYTS online, which they might do in school or in other settings, are less inclined to report e-cigarette use than they would be if they completed a questionnaire in school. While that’s possible, it is also plausible that the enhanced sense of privacy at home or in other settings outside of school increases candor. In any event, it seems clear that underreporting attributable to the change in methodology cannot entirely account for the decrease since 2019, which was apparent even when the CDC limited its analysis to students who took the survey in school.

The MMWR report does not include the 2022 data for smoking. But according to prior surveys, past-month cigarette consumption by high school students fell from about 16 percent in 2011 to about 2 percent last year. That trend obviously does not support warnings that vaping would result in more smoking among teenagers, a concern that is notably absent from the CDC’s press release about the 2022 results.

Since the numbers do not support previous warnings that adolescent vaping was rampant and rising at an alarming rate, the CDC’s current spin is that any underage e-cigarette use is a problem grave enough to justify interventions that discourage smokers from switching to a much less hazardous source of nicotine. “This study shows that our nation’s youth continue to be enticed and hooked by an expanding variety of e-cigarette brands delivering flavored nicotine,” Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, says in the agency’s press release. “Our work is far from over. It’s critical that we work together to prevent youth from starting to use any tobacco product—including e-cigarettes—and help all youth who do use them to quit.”

Such rhetoric deliberately elides the fact that e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco and do not generate combustion products, pose a much smaller health risk than conventional cigarettes. Despite that huge difference, officials like Kittner are completely incurious about the extent to which teenagers are vaping instead of smoking, which should count as an improvement for an agency that is supposedly dedicated to decreasing smoking-related morbidity and mortality.

Several years ago, in the midst of the panic about the adolescent vaping “epidemic,” I asked Scott Gottlieb, then the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whether his agency should consider the public health benefits of the shift from smoking to vaping among teenagers. Gottlieb acknowledged that some teenagers who vape might otherwise be smoking. “It’s probable,” he said. “It’s implausible for me to say that there aren’t kids out there who are using e-cigarettes instead of combustible tobacco and probably, if they never had this opportunity, would have used combustible tobacco.” But Gottlieb added that the FDA can’t take that phenomenon into account because “our mandate is that no child should be using a tobacco product.”

That position suggests the FDA’s mission to reduce underage vaping conflicts with the public health goal of minimizing morbidity and mortality. The FDA continues to portray adolescent vaping as an unalloyed evil, and so does the CDC, as reflected in Kittner’s comments.

By referring to teenagers who are “enticed and hooked” by vaping products, Kittner also equates any e-cigarette use with addiction. Yet in the 2022 NYTS, just 4.2 percent of high school students and 0.4 percent of middle school students reported that they had vaped every day during the previous month. In assessing the gravity of that problem, it is crucial to estimate how many of those students would otherwise be smoking—a question that does not seem to interest Kittner at all.

The MMWR article says “most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, can harm the developing adolescent brain, and can increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.” In an article published last year by The American Journal of Public Health, David J.K. Balfour and 14 other prominent tobacco researchers acknowledged the legitimacy of such concerns. But they found that the evidence supporting them was inconclusive.

“Animal model studies have found that nicotine can affect maturation of brain
parts associated with executive function and decision-making, potentially leading
to more impulsive behavior, cognitive deficits, and greater likelihood to self-administer other drugs,” Balfour et al. noted. “In addition, there is evidence in humans of neurological changes attributed to nicotine in the brains of adolescent smokers, interpreted by some as reflecting similar harmful effects to those in the animal models. These studies lead some researchers to suspect that adolescent nicotine use in any form may lead to long-term structural and functional brain changes with associated negative implications for cognition or impulse control.”

The researchers added some important caveats that are notably missing from the CDC’s gloss: “Given species differences and questions about the relevance of
experimental animal nicotine dosing paradigms to human use patterns, the
validity of extrapolation to humans is speculative. Whether impaired brain
development with behavioral consequences occurs in young nicotine consumers is difficult to determine because of potential confounding of genetic and socioeconomic factors, the influence of other substance abuse, and the role of preexisting neuropsychiatric problems associated with youth smoking. Research has yet to isolate nicotine use in the adolescent years and then examine later sequelae.”

The CDC is loath to concede those limitations for the same reason it does not want to acknowledge that the “epidemic” of underage vaping seems to be fading: It would weaken the case for public policies, such as flavor bans, that aim to reduce adolescent nicotine consumption by restricting the variety and availability of vaping products. The CDC not only is unfazed by the costs of those policies, which deter the harm-reducing switch from smoking to vaping by making alternative nicotine products less appealing and less accessible. It does not even admit there are any tradeoffs to consider.

Whatever the dangers of adolescent nicotine consumption, cigarettes pose the same hazards. But unlike vaping products, cigarettes expose consumers to myriad combustion products that increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other life-threatening conditions. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Balfour et al. note, “Laboratory tests of e-cigarette ingredients, in vitro toxicological tests, and short-term human studies suggest that e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.” The British Royal College of Physicians likewise concluded that “vaping isn’t completely risk-free but is far less harmful than smoking tobacco.”

The CDC’s persistent equation of vaping with “tobacco use” implies that these differences do not matter. The agency is so determined to stamp out underage vaping that it is willing to mislead the public about the harm-reducing potential of e-cigarettes. As a result of such messages, Americans are understandably confused about the relative hazards of nicotine products.

In the 2020 Health Information National Trends Survey, just 2.6 percent of respondents recognized that e-cigarettes are “much less harmful than combustible cigarettes.” Three-quarters incorrectly believed that e-cigarettes are “just as harmful,” “more harmful,” or “much more harmful.”

Guy Bentley, director of consumer freedom at the Reason Foundation (which publishes Reason), notes that the FDA, which seems determined to ban flavored vaping products because teenagers like them, acknowledges the gap between public perception and the scientific evidence. “I’m fully aware of the misperceptions that are out there and aren’t consistent with the known science,” Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told the Associated Press last month. “We do know that e-cigarettes, as a general class, have markedly less risk than a combustible cigarette product. That said, I think it’s very critical that we inform any communication campaigns using science and evidence. It has to be very carefully thought out to ensure that we’re maximizing impact and avoiding unintended consequences.”

King’s caveat suggests that the FDA is reluctant to speak plainly about vaping because that might weaken the “impact” of its messaging and cause “unintended consequences.” In other words, forthrightly acknowledging that vaping is much less dangerous than smoking might encourage e-cigarette use by teenagers or adult nonsmokers. The CDC is so worried about that risk that it actively reinforces the “misperceptions” that King acknowledges, without regard to the impact on public health. As far as the CDC is concerned, Americans can’t handle the truth.

Balfour et al. warned that “policies intended to restrict e-cigarette use may have unintentionally increased cigarette smoking.” They noted evidence that e-cigarette taxes and restrictions on sales have had that perverse effect, and they suggested that the same could be true of limits on flavor variety. “While flavor bans could reduce youth interest in e-cigarettes, they could also reduce adult smokers’ vaping to quit smoking,” they wrote. “Like youths, adults prefer nontobacco flavors, both groups favoring fruit and sweet flavors.”

The government’s anti-vaping propaganda is likewise a menace to public health. Rational consumer decisions depend on accurate and honest information, which is the opposite of what the CDC offers.

The post New Survey Data Show Adolescent Vaping Remains Far Less Common Than It Was a Few Years Ago appeared first on Reason.com.

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How Nation-States Will Use Bitcoin In The Power Projection Game

How Nation-States Will Use Bitcoin In The Power Projection Game

Authored by Jaime Gutierrez via BitcoinMagazine.com,

Bitcoin miners are the next level of power projection as they reinforce an incorruptible network that cannot be usurped by a single entity…

The military, today, is not considered an important element of society by the public. Why should it? It represents bloodshed and fights that seem pointless and have caused society a lot of pain. Similarly, studying Bitcoin as a property defense system is a misunderstood part of this asset and one that is biased by our own beliefs. How are they connected? Because both use brute force and physical power to defend property.

As a Mexican-born citizen, I have always wondered why, given the abundance of natural resources like oil and lithium available in our country, Mexico hasn’t become a world economic leader. You might also have a similar point of view in your country of residence. Especially if you are in a developing nation in Latin America or Africa or if you live in a small country that has a lot of influence from superpowers like Russia, the U.S. or China.

Throughout history, one of the reasons a country or empire has become a hegemonic power has been through what Jason Lowery calls the power projection game, which means the kinetic brute physical force of the military. This is important because if a nation doesn’t project power properly, how can it defend its natural resources and its sovereignty from another nation? And more importantly, as individuals, how can we defend our property from being stolen or confiscated by a corrupt agent? Here is where the role of The State arises.

According to Robert Breedlove, the main purpose of a State is the defense and preservation of life, liberty, and property.

“Property is the mutually acknowledged, exclusive relationship between an asset owner and any particular asset. As a relationship rather than any particular item, the essence of all property is informational.”

“The right to life is the source of all rights — and the right to property is their own implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life.” — Ayn Rand

If property means a list of “Who owns what?” and life is the source of all rights, then how can we defend ourselves from a tyrant or a person that wants to steal our property? We want to be assured that the product of our daily life efforts gained through sweat, tears and sacrificed time will be safe for ourselves and our bloodline.

“Reliably storing, updating and communicating information in this list is property’s native application. And the limitation of this has been the need to trust (and pay) an authority to maintain this list and prevent falsification or duplication of its records.” — Robert Breedlove

For centuries, this authority has been the government. The government is the entity that determines the rule of law in a community. It works through the federal courts and its three main powers — legislative, judicial and executive — to defend the property rights of its citizens. It needs the third one — an army — to guarantee compliance with these rules if the other powers fail in doing so.

“The purpose of projecting power via the Militia is to preserve zero-trust and egalitarian control over what are fundamentally trust-based and inegalitarian rules of law. Our rules-based order only works insofar as we can project power to preserve our access to our rules-based order. And, the only physical signature of ‘ownership’ is the power projected to preserve one’s access to property.” — Jason Lowery

When we look at history, the government has often ended up being the actor imposing new rules and thereby violating these same property rights. In the U.S. this right is protected from corruption by the Second Amendment, which allows the people to form militias to combat the government if it becomes a bad actor in society.

Source: Congress

This concerns the protection of property rights within a self-organized state, but the same dynamics are true between states. And this is where international conflicts come from and where the importance of the military arises to defend their rule of law from outsiders.

Military development infrastructure.

Source: Jason Lowery

“Whenever a consensus as to property rights between states could not be reached through political means, conflict erupts.” — Robert Breedlove, 2021

“We forget how the state of ownership and chain of custody of virtually everything with mass, particularly the mass we monetize, is written in blood, not ink. This is the tragedy of good power projection and deterrence. The better we get at it, the less often we are reminded about why we need it.” — Jason Lowery

Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian general and military theorist of the 19th century stated: “War is merely the continuation of policy with other means.” So to understand the importance of the military having a hegemony we need to understand why wars happen.

As one of the most important classical strategic thinkers of history, he examined the nature of war and defined it with this trinity:

War is made of the same “blind natural forces” of “primordial violence” observed in nature.

It contains “the play of chance and probability” that rewards “creative spirits.”

It is a calculated instrument of national policy used to solve political disputes.

This means that the survival of the fittest, the creative spirits that are in the search beyond something greater than them and with a clear purpose to achieve it, are the ones that translated into governments and have become the superpowers that are influencing everything around them because they have become the best at projecting power.

“Moreover, winning this brute-force physical power game is not exclusively dependent on finding ways to amass larger quantities of power; it’s also about finding different strategies for projecting power in increasingly more creative ways.

And when we can’t trust the judge because we don’t respect their judgment, war gives nations access to an independent courtroom with a perfectly impartial judge who cannot be manipulated by emotion or corrupted by false interpretations. War is the judge of last resort, delivering incorruptible judgment and a very decisive ruling based on brute-force physical power.” — Jason Lowery

This is the judge in the rise and fall of civilizations and superpowers. And when new technology arises, the hegemony of the power that rejects it suffers the consequences and falls apart.

Think of the Middle Ages, and one of the first things that probably leaps to mind for us is castles. Those immense, strongly fortified structures that were the power bases of their day. Gunpowder would change all of that, as the shattering of the walls of Constantinople demonstrated.

Constantinople Harbor painting: Cobija/CC BY-SA 4.0/Public domain

Picture yourself in Constantinople, which was seen at the time as the ultimate metropolis, the ultimate object of desire; and the Ottoman Turks were determined to capture it. It is the year 1452. Orban the engineer, an artillery expert, is working in Constantinople and goes to Emperor Constantine XI and his armies to offer them his newest invention; a dreaded weapon, a monster cannon using gunpowder to protect the city from outside invaders. But the Emperor ran out of money and couldn’t buy it from him. So Orban goes to the Turks, who couldn’t realistically reject it, and, at a better price, offers it to them.

The monstrous cannon, constructed by Orban.

Jumping ahead, it is now Easter Monday, April 2, 1453, a year later. The young Ottoman sultan, Mehmet II, and his armies are in Constantinople to begin the siege of the city. The monstrous cannon, constructed by Orban the engineer, had to be hauled more than a hundred miles to the besieged city. The largest cannon ever, 27 feet long with the ability to shoot a 1,500-pound stone ball at the defenses of the beleaguered city, is now in position. With deafening thunder, the cannon fired. This weapon pounded the walls of Constantinople and eventually broke them down, allowing the Ottoman army to breach the city.

In addition to this monster, many other smaller cannons continued the bombardment. This was the sound of a military revolution, making stone walls, towers and battlements largely obsolete. It would devastate the certainties, traditions and way of life of the medieval age.

The city of Constantinople fell on May 29, 1453, eight weeks after the first siege. And the key to the Ottoman Turks conquering Constantinople was the cannon constructed by Orban the engineer, a professional artillery master.

“Keep your sword in front of you. Your swords and your shields are fully sufficient and will prove very effective in battle.” — What Emperor Constantine XI probably said during the final siege of Constantinople.

Those last words would have been a lie because they couldn’t defend themselves from the cannons unless they would have bought them the year prior to the siege. This is an important history lesson because the last innovation in power projection was nuclear weapons. We saw what they are capable of in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If used, the outcome is mutually assured destruction of humanity. And the countries that have them became the new world superpowers that no one wants to attack because the cost of it may be irreparable. These countries are China, Russia and the world superpower hegemon, the U.S.. We have some other exceptions with nuclear weapons like North Korea, but they don’t have the influence of these three countries throughout the world.

Yet, another power projection technology arrived in 2009. Satoshi Nakamoto, inspired by Adam Back’s paper “Hashcash – A Denial Of Service Countermeasure”, built “Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer electronic cash system,” A network with a cost function that brings a challenge to its miners to be able to create tokens we call satoshis. By the proof-of-work mechanism, miners have to solve a challenge every 10 minutes to be able to validate Bitcoin transactions, and by doing so they receive bitcoin as a reward. Miners need to connect their specialized computers like Antminer’s S19 Pro in order to generate valid blocks.

This cost function has also a mathematical succession to impose a cost if someone wants to attack the network:

The Bitcoin halving formula.

Fuente: Blog.lopp.net

When the Bitcoin network was released, miners started receiving 50 bitcoin per block, which was mined every 10 minutes. Every 210,000 blocks bitcoin rewards will be cut in half, which happens approximately every four years until we reach 32 halvings (”halving” is the term referring to the Bitcoin rewards cut by half), which is expected to happen in the year 2140. We are now in the third halving, during which miners are receiving 6.25 bitcoin per block.

If someone wants to attack the Bitcoin network, he or she would need to have a 51% majority of the hash rate. If, despite major roadblocks preventing such an event, a person does have this majority, the Bitcoin full nodes around the world would then have to validate and accept these new attacker blocks, which they are not incentivized to do so. Not to mention, this 51% attempt to attack the Bitcoin network would take approximately $6.7 billion per year.

The proof-of-work mechanism imposes a physical cost to any belligerent agent that wants to corrupt the network. Using electrical power via their computers, they are using electrical brute force physical power instead of kinetic one like the military’s gunpowder. This is a continuation of the power projection game but in cyberspace, now done by protecting our purely digital property and energy, which we call Bitcoin. Miners are a continuation of our military power.

What are the implications of this? Jason Lowery expresses it as follows and is making a great thesis called “Softwar: Bitcoin And The Future Of Our National Strategic Defense.”

Lowery illustrates here:

“We cannot forget how history plays out. We cannot forget that power is everything if we want to defend what we hold valuable. Hopefully, we can convince the people who are in charge of policy making. This is the goal of my research. They should at least take Bitcoin mining seriously because we don’t want to be like the end of Constantinople. We want to be the superpower of the future. If this is the power projection play, cyber. If this is how you achieve zero trust egalitarian control over cyber property, we want to posture this country to continue to be a superpower.”

The U.S. has become the world superpower through its military force and the use of its currency, the U.S. dollar, as the world reserve money in the world. They managed to secure this after getting out of the gold standard in 1971 and following that with the petrodollar system.

Why is this important?

After the U.S. sanctions against Russia removing them from the SWIFT system, now every country is asking themselves these questions:

“Can I trust my savings in the banking system?

If I go against the U.S., could I be thrown out of the SWIFT system as well?

How can we protect our property and sovereignty from the influence of this superpower?”

They do so by building their military kinetically and electrically so that they can impose a cost on any attacker that wants to inflict their rules.

The power projection game is a natural law that has existed for millions of years and is now evolving. Now, the U.S. has to make a smart move if it wants to maintain its role as the most powerful nation in the world.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 19:40

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Most Americans In Over 25 Years Suffer ‘Real’ Pay Cut Under Biden Admin; Fed Report Shows

Most Americans In Over 25 Years Suffer ‘Real’ Pay Cut Under Biden Admin; Fed Report Shows

As The Wall Street Journal recently reported “…vast numbers of Americans find their cost of living is rising faster than the income they’re bringing home,” under the Biden administration.

How ‘vast’?

Well The Dallas Fed just issued a report showing that, rather shockingly, a majority of employed workers’ real (inflation-adjusted) wages have failed to keep up with inflation in the past year.

For these workers, The Dallas Fed finds that the median decline in real wages is a little more than 8.5 percent…

All individuals to the left of the dashed line experienced wage growth that was less than the CPI inflation rate – that is 53.4% of all Americans.

And, taken together, these outcomes appear to be the most severe faced by employed workers over the past 25 years

While this is all Putin’s fault – or price-gouging retail gas station owners – we do note The Dallas Fed researchers conclusion perhaps explains why the Democrats face an uphill battle into the Midterms… “While the past 25 years have witnessed episodes that show either a greater incidence or larger magnitude of real wage declines, the current time period is unparalleled in terms of the challenge employed workers face.”

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 19:20

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Democrats Attack Lake As ‘Extremist’ As 2024 Republicans Flock To Her

Democrats Attack Lake As ‘Extremist’ As 2024 Republicans Flock To Her

Authored by Philip Wegmann via RealClear Wire,

It is a busy week for Kari Lake and for Republicans who harbor White House ambitions. Several are more than eager to share the stump with the Arizona gubernatorial candidate, a fact that Democrats believe underscores their arguments about the “ultra MAGA” right and the rise of GOP extremism.

Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin U.S. Geological Survey 2001

Tuesday morning in Scottsdale, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will have coffee with Lake and her supporters. The next afternoon in the Phoenix suburbs, Lake will share the stage with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Former President Donald Trump arrives Sunday to host a rally in the town of Prescott Valley.

Some have already stumped for Lake, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in August. Others have promised they will, like Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, but haven’t yet put a date on the calendar.

Why is it a surprise that Republicans are helping Republicans?” a Noem spokesman asked RealClearPolitics before getting a plug in for the candidate: “South Dakota is proving that freedom gets results, and Kari Lake will bring the same principles to Arizona.”

But Lake isn’t a generic Republican candidate. A longtime former Phoenix television anchorwoman who routinely excoriates her former profession, she has called for the 2020 presidential election to be decertified, condemned the vaccine mandates as government overreach, and aggressively mixed it up with regional and national reporters alike. In short, Lake is a Republican after Trump’s heart. Other politicians, despite the criticism, want in.

The race between Lake and Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs remains a tossup. In a state Biden narrowly won, the RealClearPolitics Average has the Republican out front with a slim 2.2-point lead., so it would be on the national radar anyway. But Lake, who brings an undeniable energy to the stump, adds a heightened level of controversy to the mix.

Kari Lake is as extreme as they come – from touting Arizona’s 1901 abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest to endorsing Donald Trump’s Big Lie that incited an attack on our Capitol,” DNC spokesperson Ammar Moussa told RCP. “It’s no surprise that national Republicans are flocking to Arizona to embrace Lake and echo her ultra-MAGA agenda because this is exactly what the Republican Party stands for today.”

Democrats and President Biden are eager to make the midterms a referendum on what they see as GOP extremism, rather than the economy or inflation where the White House remains underwater in polling. And while Biden and his aides haven’t singled out Lake, they have happily pointed to abortion restrictions, in particular a national ban proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham and backed by former Vice President Mike Pence, as examples of the rightward shift of the Republican Party.

“If you are not with where the majority of Americans are, that is extreme,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told RCP last month. “That is an extreme way of thinking.”

Lake has repeatedly denied the 2020 election, calling for the outcome of that contest to be decertified more than a year later. Traditional conservatives point to those statements while urging 2024 contenders to stay away from Arizona. Henry Olson, a conservative columnist at the Washington Post, wrote this summer that “nothing defines Lake more than her embrace of election denial” and begged Arizona Republicans not to nominate her. After she won that nomination and Virginia’s governor announced plans travel to the state, a National Review op-ed warned Youngkin to “hew closely to the lane he has staked out for himself” because “Trump sycophants are clogging up the rest of the road.”

Yet, the enthusiasm for Lake is undeniable in the GOP grassroots where her belligerence toward the media is not seen as a drawback. Lake has said that if elected she would enforce Arizona’s bygone abortion ban, a law on the books before Roe v. Wade was passed a half-century ago. It prohibited abortions and criminalized abortionists. When pressed on her position, Lake said she supports “saving as many lives as possible” and then turned the question back on the reporter.

“What I really want to know, and I’ve been waiting, I tune into you guys all the time, I want to know where Katie Hobbs stands. I never hear you guys ask her that,” Lake said.

Let me tell you where she stands. She supports abortion right up until birth and after birth. She supports that if a baby survives a botched abortion that that baby die on a cold metal tray. And none of you ever try to get her to talk about her stance,” the candidate continued.

A clip of the exchange went viral. Cruz shared the video on Twitter and said Monday “This is how it’s done.”

It is an open question whether that kind of rhetoric does more to get Arizona voters to the polls or animate the online conservatives. For now, regardless of controversy, potential presidential contenders are eager to associate with Lake who is becoming a rising star on the right.

“Kari Lake does as much to help Ted Cruz, Kristi Noem, or Glen Youngkin in Arizona as they do to help her,” said Barrett Marson, an Arizona GOP strategist. “It’s mutually beneficial for some of these candidates to come here and stand next to Lake. Whether they add to her vote total, it may not matter, they are still associating themselves with a very popular Republican candidate.”

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 19:00

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Air Force Scrambles Jets After North Korea Flies 12 Warplanes Near Inter-Korean Border

Air Force Scrambles Jets After North Korea Flies 12 Warplanes Near Inter-Korean Border

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times,

At least 12 North Korean military planes flew in formation close to the South Korean border on Thursday, prompting U.S. allies to scramble dozens of fighter jets.

A group of eight fighter jets and four bombers operated by North Korea flew in formation near the inter-Korean air boundary at around 2 p.m. local time, officials with the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff told Yonhap. They are believed to have carried out air-to-surface military drills, the officials said.

In response, South Korea mobilized 30 fighter jets and scrambled them to near where North Korea carried out its drills, authorities told Yonhap.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told news outlets that the 12 North Korean warplanes “flew in squadron this afternoon in the South Korean side … to stage a protest.”

“Reportedly, North Korea’s Air Force has not been able to train properly due to the scarcity of fuel, it is extremely unusual for North Korea to have flown 8 fighter jets and 4 bombers,” Cheong Seong-Chang, the head of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute, told ABC News.

North Korea has previously sent military aircraft near the border, but Yonhap news agency said this is likely the first time it has mobilized so many warplanes for such a provocative flight and firing exercises.

Tensions

Tensions have risen sharply on the Korean Peninsula amid North Korea’s recent barrage of missile tests prompted South Korea, the United States, and Japan to conduct joint drills in response.

Earlier Thursday, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters. The launches came after the United States redeployed an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s launch of a nuclear-capable missile over Japan earlier this week.

A TV screen shows a file image of a North Korean missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept. 28, 2022. (Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo)

U.S., South Korean, and Japanese destroyers launched joint drills Thursday off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast to hone their abilities to search, track, and intercept North Korean ballistic missiles, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Also, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier group returned to the sea east of the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday to stage a naval exercise with Japan and South Korea

President Yoon Suk-Yeol noted tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high, but he pledged that Seoul would remain cautious.

“Since the situation is not easy to deal with, the USS Ronald Reagan returned to our waters at around 8 p.m. yesterday,” Yoon said, reported the Korean Times.

“The public would be worried about the current security circumstances, but the government will not miss a single step in protecting the people based on the strong South Korea-U.S. alliance and the security cooperation between Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo.”

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un (L) and sister Kim Yo Jong attend the Inter-Korean Summit at the Peace House in Panmunjom, South Korea on April 27, 2018. (Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images)

North Korean Threat

South Korea will face “extermination” if it “adopts military confrontation” against North Korea, top North Korean official Kim Yo Jong said in a threat earlier this week.

“In case south Korea adopts military confrontation against us, our nuclear combat forces are inevitably obliged to carry out its mission,” Kim, the high-ranking sister of dictator Kim Jong Un, said. “If the situation develops to such an extent, terrible attack would be mounted and the south Korean army would have no other choice but to suffer tragic lot of extermination.”

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 18:40

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Hundreds Of Thousands Of Americans Sought Medical Care After COVID-19 Vaccination: CDC Data

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Americans Sought Medical Care After COVID-19 Vaccination: CDC Data

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Hundreds of thousands of Americans sought medical care after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data released on Oct. 3.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., in a file photograph. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Some 782,900 people reported seeking medical attention, emergency room care, and/or hospitalization following COVID-19 vaccination. Another 2.5 million people reported needing to miss school, work, or other normal activities as a result of a health event after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The reports were made to the CDC’s V-safe program, a new vaccine safety monitoring system to which users can report issues through smartphones.

The CDC released the data to the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) after being sued over not producing the data when asked by the nonprofit. ICAN posted a dashboard summarizing the data.

It took numerous legal demands, appeals, and two lawsuits, and over a year, but the CDC finally capitulated and agreed to a court order requiring them to do what they should have done from day one, release the V-safe data to the public,” Aaron Siri, a lawyer representing ICAN in the case, told The Epoch Times in an email.

About 10 million people utilized V-safe during the period of time the data covers: Dec. 14, 2020, to July 31, 2022. About 231 million Americans received at least one vaccine doses during that time.

The V-safe users reported about 71 million symptoms.

The most commonly reported symptoms were chills (3.5 million), swelling (3.6 million), joint pain (4 million), muscle or body aches (7.8 million), headache (9.7 million), fatigue (12.7 million), and general pain (19.5 million).

About 4.2 million of the symptoms were of severe severity.

Users of V-safe filled in data for about 13,000 infants younger than two, reporting over 33,000 symptoms, including pain, loss of appetite, and irritability.

The data produced so far by the CDC does not include free-text responses, according to ICAN. The data covered fields where users checked boxes.

ICAN, founded by film producer Del Bigtree, said that the newly revealed data “reveals shocking information that should have caused the CDC to immediately shut down its COVID-19 vaccine program,” citing the percentage of people who reported needing to get care or missing school, work, or other normal activities, as well as the reported adverse events.

Read more here…

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 18:20

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DACA Ruled Illegal After Appeals Court Cites ‘Severe Deficiencies’

DACA Ruled Illegal After Appeals Court Cites ‘Severe Deficiencies’

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful.

The program was designed to shield certain immigrants known colloquially as “anchor babies” from deportation.

In its ruling, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a July 2021 decision by a Texas federal judge, US District Judge Andrew Hanen, who declared DACA illegal and blocked new applications, while allowing current beneficiaries to continue receiving protection.

The 5th Circuit maintained the same policy, and sent the case back to Hanen so he can review a revised set of rules that the Biden administration announced in august, to determine whether those rules are legal.

The Biden administration’s new final rule to “preserve and fortify” DACA codifies the existing policy, with limited changes, into federal regulation. It was subject to public comments as part of a formal rule-making process intended to improve its chances of surviving lawsuits challenging it. It’s set to be effective Oct. 31 to replace the 2012 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum that had created DACA. -Epoch Times

As Jonathan Turley notes;

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit (with U.S. Circuit Judges James Ho and Kurt Engelhardt), Chief Judge Priscilla Richman found that President Obama did indeed circumvent Congress and evaded the limits imposed in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it enacted DACA in 2012. The court declared:

Under the first factor, DACA’s deficiencies are severe. The district court’s excellent opinion correctly identified fundamental substantive defects in the program. The DACA Memorandum contradicts significant portions of the INA. There is no possibility that DHS could obviate these conflicts on remand.”

The court, however, did not change the status of the roughly 600,000 people from 150 countries enrolled under DACA. It sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

The Biden Administration fought to block any judicial review by challenging the standing of Texas to bring the action. However, it did little to refute the claims of injury raised by the state, including an expert who estimated that DACA recipients overall impose a cost of more than $250,000,000 on Texas per year and another $533,000,000 annually in costs to local Texas communities.

In addition, the court noted that:

“Texas contends that the rescission of DACA would cause some recipients to leave, thereby reducing the financial burdens on the State. It cites a survey of over three thousand DACA recipients in which twenty-two percent of respondents said they were likely or very likely to leave the country if DACA ended.130 The Government presents evidence that many recipients would remain without DACA, but that does not controvert Texas’s showing that some would leave.”

The Fifth Circuit also rejected the common claim that this is nothing more than the exercise of prosecutorial discretion not to prosecute cases:

“As our court held in DAPA, “‘[a]lthough prosecutorial discretion is broad, it is not “unfettered.”’ Declining to prosecute does not transform presence deemed unlawful by Congress into lawful presence and confer eligibility for otherwise unavailable benefits based on that change.”

Even if the INA were ambiguous, DACA would fail at step two because it is an unreasonable interpretation of the INA. Like DAPA, DACA “undoubtedly implicates ‘question[s] of deep “economic and political significance” that [are] central to this statutory scheme; had Congress wished to assign that decision to an agency, it surely would have done so expressly.’”

There is no “clear congressional authorization” for the power that DHS claims.”

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen will now get the case back. He previously decided that the Department of Homeland Security had implemented DACA in violation of the APA.

In response, the Biden administration has developed a new DACA rule and published it on the Federal Register to satisfy the public notice-and-comment process. The new rule is scheduled to become active on Oct. 31.

The case could ultimately find its way to the Supreme Court but such a move could only magnify the bad precedent already created in the case for the Administration.

*  *  *

And according to the Daily Caller, the Biden administration says it will take legal action after the 5th Circuit decision.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 18:00

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New Survey Data Show Adolescent Vaping Remains Far Less Common Than It Was a Few Years Ago


Vaping teen

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), nicotine vaping among teenagers has fallen dramatically since 2019, undercutting fears about an “epidemic” of such behavior. Last spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which oversees the survey, suggested that drop might be illusory because the COVID-19 pandemic reduced youth access to vaping products. But the latest NYTS results, published today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), indicate that the adolescent vaping rate is only slightly higher this year than it was 2021, even though nearly all students have returned to in-person schooling.

The CDC still refuses to acknowledge the decline in adolescent vaping since 2019, which is consistent with the downward trend found in another government-sponsored survey. The agency implausibly suggests that methodological changes—in particular, the switch to an online survey—might account for the sharp decrease. That argument reflects the CDC’s determination to maintain public alarm about adolescent vaping, regardless of what the data show.

The CDC also refuses to acknowledge that the downward trend in adolescent smoking not only continued but accelerated as vaping took off, let alone acknowledge the positive implications of that shift. And it continues to cite underage consumption as a reason to restrict adult access, notwithstanding the lifesaving potential of replacing smoking with vaping.

The rates of past-month e-cigarette use measured by the NYTS are slightly higher this year than last year: 14.1 percent vs. 11.3 percent among high school students and 3.3 percent vs. 2.8 percent among middle school students. The latter increase was not statistically significant. Among high school students, the 2022 rate is nearly 50 percent lower than the peak recorded in 2019 (27.5 percent). The CDC says nothing about that striking decline, except to suggest that it is misleading.

“Because of changes in methodology, including differences in survey administration
and data collection procedures, the ability to compare estimates from 2022 with
those from previous NYTS waves is limited,” a footnote in the MMWR article warns.  “Differences between estimates might be due to changes in methodology, actual behavior, or both.”

The premise underlying the CDC’s skepticism is that students who respond to the NYTS online, which they might do in school or in other settings, are less inclined to report e-cigarette use than they would be if they completed a questionnaire in school. While that’s possible, it is also plausible that the enhanced sense of privacy at home or in other settings outside of school increases candor. In any event, it seems clear that underreporting attributable to the change in methodology cannot entirely account for the decrease since 2019, which was apparent even when the CDC limited its analysis to students who took the survey in school.

The MMWR report does not include the 2022 data for smoking. But according to prior surveys, past-month cigarette consumption by high school students fell from about 16 percent in 2011 to about 2 percent last year. That trend obviously does not support warnings that vaping would result in more smoking among teenagers, a concern that is notably absent from the CDC’s press release about the 2022 results.

Since the numbers do not support previous warnings that adolescent vaping was rampant and rising at an alarming rate, the CDC’s current spin is that any underage e-cigarette use is a problem grave enough to justify interventions that discourage smokers from switching to a much less hazardous source of nicotine. “This study shows that our nation’s youth continue to be enticed and hooked by an expanding variety of e-cigarette brands delivering flavored nicotine,” Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, says in the agency’s press release “Our work is far from over. It’s critical that we work together to prevent youth from starting to use any tobacco product—including e-cigarettes—and help all youth who do use them to quit.”

Such rhetoric deliberately elides the fact that e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco and do not generate combustion products, pose a much smaller health risk than conventional cigarettes. Despite that huge difference, officials like Kittner are completely incurious about the extent to which teenagers are vaping instead of smoking, which should count as an improvement for an agency that is supposedly dedicated to decreasing smoking-related morbidity and mortality.

Several years ago, in the midst of the panic about the adolescent vaping “epidemic,” I asked Scott Gottlieb, then the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whether his agency should consider the public health benefits of the shift from smoking to vaping among teenagers. Gottlieb acknowledged that some teenagers who vape might otherwise be smoking. “It’s probable,” he said. “It’s implausible for me to say that there aren’t kids out there who are using e-cigarettes instead of combustible tobacco and probably, if they never had this opportunity, would have used combustible tobacco.” But Gottlieb added that the FDA can’t take that phenomenon into account because “our mandate is that no child should be using a tobacco product.”

That position suggests the FDA’s mission to reduce underage vaping conflicts with the public health goal of minimizing morbidity and mortality. The FDA continues to portray adolescent vaping as an unalloyed evil, and so does the CDC, as reflected in Kittner’s comments.

By referring to teenagers who are “enticed and hooked” by vaping products, Kittner also equates any e-cigarette use with addiction. Yet in the 2022 NYTS, just 4.2 percent of high school students and 0.4 percent of middle school students reported that they had vaped every day during the previous month. In assessing the gravity of that problem, it is crucial to estimate how many of those students would otherwise be smoking—a question that does not seem to interest Kittner at all.

The MMWR article says “most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, can harm the developing adolescent brain, and can increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.” In an article published last year by The American Journal of Public Health, David J.K. Balfour and 14 other prominent tobacco researchers acknowledged the legitimacy of such concerns. But they found that the evidence supporting them was inconclusive.

“Animal model studies have found that nicotine can affect maturation of brain
parts associated with executive function and decision-making, potentially leading
to more impulsive behavior, cognitive deficits, and greater likelihood to self-administer other drugs,” Balfour et al. noted. “In addition, there is evidence in humans of neurological changes attributed to nicotine in the brains of adolescent smokers, interpreted by some as reflecting similar harmful effects to those in the
animal models. These studies lead some researchers to suspect that adolescent nicotine use in any form may lead to long-term structural and functional brain changes with associated negative implications for cognition or impulse control.”

The researchers added some important caveats that are notably missing from the CDC’s gloss: “Given species differences and questions about the relevance of
experimental animal nicotine dosing paradigms to human use patterns, the
validity of extrapolation to humans is speculative. Whether impaired brain
development with behavioral consequences occurs in young nicotine consumers is difficult to determine because of potential confounding of genetic and socioeconomic factors, the influence of other substance abuse, and the role of preexisting neuropsychiatric problems associated with youth smoking. Research has yet to isolate nicotine use in the adolescent years and then examine later sequelae.”

The CDC is loath to concede those limitations for the same reason it does not want to acknowledge that the “epidemic” of underage vaping seems to be fading: It would weaken the case for public policies, such as flavor bans, that aim to reduce adolescent nicotine consumption by restricting the variety and availability of vaping products. The CDC is not only unfazed by the costs of those policies, which deter the harm-reducing switch from smoking to vaping by making alternative nicotine products less appealing and less accessible. It does not even admit there are any tradeoffs to consider.

Whatever the hazards of adolescent nicotine consumption, cigarettes pose the same hazards. But unlike vaping products, cigarettes expose consumers to myriad combustion products that increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other life-threatening conditions. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Balfour et al. note, “Laboratory tests of e-cigarette ingredients, in vitro toxicological tests, and short-term human studies suggest that e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.” The British Royal College of Physicians likewise concluded that “vaping isn’t completely risk-free but is far less harmful than smoking tobacco.”

The CDC’s persistent equation of vaping with “tobacco use” implies that these differences do not matter. The agency is so determined to stamp out underage vaping that it is willing to mislead the public about the harm-reducing potential of e-cigarettes. As a result of such messages, Americans are understandably confused about the relative hazards of nicotine products.

In the 2020 Health Information National Trends Survey, just 2.6 percent of respondents recognized that e-cigarettes are “much less harmful than combustible cigarettes.” Three-quarters incorrectly believed that e-cigarettes are “just as harmful,” “more harmful,” or “much more harmful.”

Guy Bentley, director of consumer freedom at the Reason Foundation (which publishes Reason), notes that the FDA, which seems determined to ban flavored vaping products because teenagers like them, acknowledges the gap between public perception and the scientific evidence. “I’m fully aware of the misperceptions that are out there and aren’t consistent with the known science,” Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told the Associated Press last month. “We do know that e-cigarettes, as a general class, have markedly less risk than a combustible cigarette product. That said, I think it’s very critical that we inform any communication campaigns using science and evidence. It has to be very carefully thought out to ensure that we’re maximizing impact and avoiding unintended consequences.”

The caveat that King added suggests that the FDA is reluctant to speak plainly about vaping because that might weaken the “impact” of its messaging and cause “unintended consequences.” In other words, forthrightly acknowledging that vaping is much less dangerous than smoking might encourage e-cigarette use by teenagers or adult nonsmokers. The CDC is so worried about that risk that it actively reinforces the “misperceptions” that King acknowledges without regard to the impact on public health. As far as the CDC is concerned, Americans can’t handle the truth.

Balfour et al. warned that “policies intended to restrict e-cigarette use may have unintentionally increased cigarette smoking.” They noted evidence that e-cigarette taxes and restrictions on sales have had that perverse effect, and they suggested that the same could be true of limits on flavor variety. “While flavor bans could reduce youth interest in e-cigarettes, they could also reduce adult smokers’ vaping to quit smoking,” they wrote. “Like youths, adults prefer nontobacco flavors, both groups favoring fruit and sweet flavors.”

The government’s anti-vaping propaganda is likewise a menace to public health. Rational consumer decisions depend on accurate and honest information, which is the opposite of what the CDC offers.

The post New Survey Data Show Adolescent Vaping Remains Far Less Common Than It Was a Few Years Ago appeared first on Reason.com.

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Biden’s Marijuana Reforms Are Long Overdue but Will Have Just a Modest Impact


Joe Biden

The marijuana reforms that President Joe Biden announced today follow through on some of the promises that he made during his campaign, but they will have a limited practical impact. His blanket pardon for low-level marijuana offenders, while long overdue, will affect a tiny percentage of people with federal drug records. Without new legislation, marijuana use will remain a crime under federal law, as will growing and selling marijuana. And while rescheduling marijuana will make medical research easier, it will not make cannabis legally available to patients unless and until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves specific products as safe and effective.

“I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period,” Biden said during a November 2019 presidential debate. “And I think…anyone who has a record should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out….Everybody gets out, record expunged.” He later qualified that broad language, suggesting his concern was limited to marijuana users charged with simple possession, who are rarely prosecuted under federal law. Today’s announcement fits that narrower focus.

Biden said he is pardoning “all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who committed the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.” He said the blanket pardon would help “thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession” and “who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result.” While “white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates,” he noted, “Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

Biden’s concern about the ancillary penalties associated with marijuana convictions and the racially disproportionate impact of the war on weed are welcome. So is his willingness to use his plenary clemency powers to address those problems. But nearly all low-level marijuana cases are prosecuted under state law, and his pardons will have no impact on those. Biden urged governors to “pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses,” which would have a much broader effect but depends on their discretion.

To put the impact of Biden’s pardon in perspective, about 400,000 people are currently incarcerated for drug offenses in the United States, including about 67,000 federal prisoners. During the last two decades, police typically made between 1.5 million and 1.9 million drug arrests every year. In recent years, marijuana arrests have accounted for more than a third of the total, and the vast majority of those cases (92 percent in 2019) involved possession rather than cultivation or trafficking.

Although Biden said “we should decriminalize marijuana,” he does not have the authority to do that on his own. Despite his pardon, simple marijuana possession is still punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail under the Controlled Substances Act. Growing or selling marijuana are still federal felonies, which creates an untenable conflict with state laws that allow medical or recreational use. Cannabis consumers who own guns likewise are still subject to stiff prison sentences—a policy the Biden administration is defending in court.

Biden, who has long opposed efforts to repeal federal marijuana prohibition, made it clear today that he does not favor eliminating criminal penalties for growing or selling pot. His pardon announcement says “no language herein shall be construed to pardon any person for any other offense, including possession of other controlled substances, whether committed prior, subsequent, or contemporaneous to the pardoned offense of simple possession of marijuana.”

The moral logic of Biden’s distinction between simple possession and other marijuana offenses is hard to follow. He says using marijuana should not be treated as a crime. If so, how can helping people use marijuana justify sending anyone to prison? And why should people convicted of assisting cannabis consumption be saddled with felony records for the rest of their lives?

Biden did say “it makes no sense” to “classify marijuana at the same level as heroin.” Both drugs are included in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a category supposedly reserved for substances with a high abuse potential that have no accepted medical use and cannot be used safely even under a doctor’s supervision. Biden noted that even fentanyl, black-market versions of which are implicated in two-thirds of drug-related deaths, is less strictly regulated than marijuana, because the federal government recognizes that it has legitimate medical applications.

Biden said he has asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to “initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.” That administrative process is apt to take a while, and its consequences are uncertain.

Removing marijuana from Schedule I would require changing the criteria that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) historically has applied in determining whether marijuana has a “currently accepted medical use.” The DEA has long demanded the sort of evidence that would be required to win FDA approval for a new drug. The DEA’s critics, meanwhile, have long complained that keeping marijuana in Schedule I makes it harder to conduct the research necessary to satisfy that requirement.

Rescheduling marijuana would eliminate the research barriers that are unique to Schedule I. But by itself, it would not make cannabis available as a prescription drug, which would require FDA approval of a specific application. So far, the FDA has approved synthetic THC as an anti-nausea medication and cannabidiol as a treatment for epilepsy. Except for the latter, it has never approved a cannabis-derived medicine.

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Biden said today. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.” Given the narrow reach of the policies he just announced, which leave marijuana prohibition untouched, do not allow even medical use, and keep marijuana growers and distributors in prison, his reforms represent only a modest step in that direction.

The post Biden's Marijuana Reforms Are Long Overdue but Will Have Just a Modest Impact appeared first on Reason.com.

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Biden Is Still Seeking Potential Life Sentences for Distributing Weed, Even As He Pardons for Possession


Jonathan Wall and Joe Biden

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he is pardoning every U.S. citizen and lawful resident convicted in federal court of simple marijuana possession. That is a very fortunate announcement for the several thousand people convicted at the federal level of simple possession, but it still leaves thousands of other federal cannabis offenders facing draconian sentences for larger quantities.

Consider, for example, that just months ago, Biden’s Department of Justice successfully prosecuted a man named Jonathan Wall and sought 10 years to life in prison for the crime of conspiracy to distribute cannabis. While Biden deserves praise for pardoning people no longer imprisoned, it is important to remember that he is extending that olive branch while insisting that the people who sold them marijuana should be caged for decades.

“It remains deeply disturbing,” Jason Flores-Williams, who represented Wall in court until the conclusion of his trial in May, tells Reason. “While we’re glad that the president is pardoning people for pot possession, really what needs to happen is the decriminalization or total legalization of marijuana so that people like my current clients and people who I’ve represented don’t spend any time of their short precious lives incarcerated in a cage for a plant that I can go buy around the corner.”

Flores-Williams notes that he still represents several people accused of marijuana distribution. The disconnect between possession and distribution got even wider today, as those charged with the latter will continue to face prison terms exceeding those served by defendants convicted of rape, assault, and various types of homicide.

“This is not a case about marijuana possession,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anatoly Smolkin said during Wall’s trial. “This is a case about a drug conspiracy to distribute massive amounts of marijuana around the country.” If possession should not be a crime, why are we caging people who help others secure access to cannabis?

These days, many consumers buy cannabis legally, including at the brick-and-mortar stores popping up in cities around the U.S., where it is legal at the state and local levels but still federally prohibited. Wall is no worse a violator of federal law than the cannabis businesses located just a mile or so from the White House in D.C., and no worse a person than the people who Biden now insists should never have been incarcerated in the first place. After his conviction, he now faces a minimum of a decade behind bars.

“He’s trying to adopt the most politically expedient by which this can somehow be done without fully being done,” says Flores-Williams. “Federal prohibition of marijuana has been a mistake from day one. Too many people have suffered, and right now the penalties are so radically diverse and unjust.” As of today, that gap just broadened.

The post Biden Is Still Seeking Potential Life Sentences for Distributing Weed, Even As He Pardons for Possession appeared first on Reason.com.

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