Drug Legalization "Agnostic" is Asking for More DEA Action in a Medical Journal

Respectable professors at the top of American academia are eager to give advice on regulation of marijuana edibles. The preeminent New England Journal of Medicine this month features an article with the title 'Half-Baked — The Retail Promotion of Marijuana Edibles' by Robert MacCoun, a Stanford Law School professor, writing about the dangers of inadequate regulation of marijuana edibles. It looks like MacCoun, who previously published 'An Agnostic's Guide to the Drug Legalization Debate,' has studied the matter and is ready to advise governments on minute details of pot regulation.

Despite the timely subject matter, the article carries the baggage of fear and prohibition. Instead of using a picture of a modern labeled and regulated product from Colorado, the authors used a nine year old picture from the DEA website that I am attaching here.

While the picture is meant to illustrate for doctors the risks of accidental poisoning of children, it also illustrates the point that even a seemingly forward looking expert is stuck in the past. Instead of making suggestions for how Colorado and Washington can do better today, MacCoun laments the "wide berth" enjoyed by the edibles industry, "that federal agencies are unwilling or unable to narrow."

So here is the state of affairs in 2015. While citizens are using the ballot initiative process in many states to move forward with marijuana legalization, an elite law school professor who claims that he is a legalization agnostic is using a nine year old picture to tell the readers of a medical journal that the DEA is not doing enough. Hasn't DEA done enough already?

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LPME Chairman on WVOM Radio

Listen to Jorge Maderal on WVOM FM 101.3 103.9 or AM 1450 on Thursday, March 12 at 7:30AM

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Summary of LD 531 - Maine Fourth Amendment Protection Act

An Act To Establish the Maine Fourth Amendment Protection Act

 

Presented by Senator BRAKEY of Androscoggin. Cosponsored by Representative GUERIN of Glenburn and Senators: DAVIS of Piscataquis, PATRICK of Oxford, Representatives: BATES of Westbrook, CHIPMAN of Portland, RUSSELL of Portland, SIROCKI of Scarborough.

 

SUMMARY

 

This bill prohibits the State and its political subdivisions from assisting, participating with or providing material support or resources to enable or facilitate a federal agency in the collection or use of a person's electronic data or metadata without the person's informed consent, without a warrant based upon probable cause that particularly describes the person, place or thing to be searched or seized or without acting in accordance with a legally recognized exception to the warrant requirements.

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LPME Supports LD 507 (An Act To Allow Primary Petition Signature Requirements To Be Proportional with Party Enrollment)

We support LD 507, a bill introduced by Rep. Ben Chipman (I-Portland).  This bill, if it becomes law, will improve ballot access for representatives of small political parties.  We believe that a diversity of opinions and ideas that small party candidates bring to the process improves the electorate's understanding of the issues and leads to more engagement.

The hearing on the bill will be on Monday, March 9 in Room 437 of the State House.  LPME chairman Jorge Maderal is planning to testify in support of this measure.  The bill summary appears below.

SUMMARY

This bill changes the law governing a candidate's nomination by primary election for the office of Governor, United States Senator or Representative to Congress. It changes the number of signatures required on a primary petition for the office of Governor or United States Senator to be 1% of the voters enrolled in the candidate's party and residing in the candidate's electoral district as of December 1st of the year before the election or the current minimum requirement of 2,000 voters, whichever is less. It also changes the number of signatures required on a primary petition for the office of Representative to Congress to be 1% of the voters so enrolled or the current minimum of 1,000 voters, whichever is less.

 

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Direct Pay Primary Care

Direct Primary Care, also called ‘concierge’ or ‘retainer’ medicine, is a rapidly growing model of medical practice that is based on a direct pay relationship between doctors and patients that does not include government programs or insurance companies.

Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance companies have turned the US health care system into a nightmare that is bad for both doctors and patients.  Billing payors accounts for 40% of a medical practice’s overhead.  The ratio of doctors to other medical system staff in the US is 1 to 16.  Of the 16 staff, 6 are in direct patient care (nurses, nurses aides, therapists, etc), while the other 10 are administrators and managers.  In this environment the doctor has to provide enough services to earn a living and then make an additional $823,000 to pay labor costs of the support staff.  (The $823,000 is for labor costs only; office and equipment overhead cost more.)

The patients are troubled by inconveniently scheduled appointments, long wait times and impossible billing issues as doctors struggle to see and bill enough patients to support the system. A conservative estimate is that an average US physician needs 17.4 hours to complete a day’s worth of work.   In a well publicized survey, the majority of physicians describe their morale as negative, and nearly a third are planning an exit from the profession during prime working age.

Enter Direct Primary Care.  This Time magazine article does an excellent job describing the service and is definitely worth reading. This service was previously called ‘concierge’ or ‘retainer’ medicine, implying that it was only for the wealthy, but it has become clear that this service is very affordable.  It may seem shocking that attentive, thoughtful and unrushed primary care medicine actually costs only $800-$1500 per year, but that is the market rate for a satisfied patient and a happy doctor.  It is amazing what happens when $823,000 per year, imposed on a doctor-patient relationship from the outside, is discarded.  A reader of my previous blog post regarding the costs of MaineCare expansion commented that she was disappointed that that taxpayers were paying medical bills for the 43% of MaineCare recipients who smoke tobacco.  I cannot resist pointing out that smoking one pack per day at $2400 per year costs 2 to 3 times more than the Direct Primary Care service in the above article.

 

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Meetups

The Libertarian Party of Maine has recently implemented a new computer system that will make it easier for local libertarian groups to organize local meetings and events.  Our database has over one thousand supporters and thousands of interested prospects with whom we can communicate by email, text message and via Facebook and Twitter.  We would like to use all of our systems to help organize meetings of local groups anywhere in Maine so that we can get to know each other, develop a common agenda, and become a political voice.

 

Here is the step by step process for organizing a local meeting:

 

  1. A motivated Volunteer becomes a point person for a local meetup and contacts LPME with a proposed location and time

  2. Initially the groups will not be too large and can be easily accommodated at free venues ranging from donut shops to public libraries

  3. We will use the LPME database to generate a list of potential participants for an appropriate geographic area

  4. LPME will send an email blast to local potential participants along with tweeting out the announcement and placing an announcement on LPME Facebook page.

  5. LPME.org has an events page where the meeting time, location, and agenda will be announced

  6. The attendees will be asked to RSVP on the events page so that the point person will know whom to expect

  7. We meet.

 

The agenda for early meetings organized via this process may include a report by the LPME chairman Jorge Maderal on our organizing and voter registration (he is committed to attending as many meetings as he can), discussion of our position on current issues in the state (e.g. Gov. LePage tax plan), as well as issues important to local group members.  We would like to be a place where libertarian leaning individuals can meet like-minded people even if they are not ready to join the political party just yet.


Please email us at lp_maine@lpme.org 

We am looking forward to hearing from you so that we can work together on building a thriving Libertarian community in Maine.

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Do You Owe Quahog Tax for 2014?

Mahogany Quahog (Arctica islandica) is one of the longest living animal species in the world.  Specimens of over 200 years of age are not unusual, and the oldest known specimen was 507 years old when it was collected alive.  This means that many Quahogs that are peacefully filtering water on the ocean bottom right now were alive on December 16, 1773 and probably tasted the tea in the water even if they didn’t know what it was.  New England Quahogs are probably the only living creatures that were present for the Boston Tea Party and then lived long enough for the state of Maine to tax them at $1.20 per bushel.  It is too bad that this bivalve mollusk can’t appreciate the irony of his situation.

Why did Maine single out Mahogany Quahog (pronounced ko-hog) for taxation?  This deep-water clam lives in waters of between 65 and 250 feet deep.  Most Quahogs live in waters more than 3 miles offshore where fishing is regulated by the federal government, but here in Maine a subset of the species is found in shallower waters that are regulated by the State.  Seafood wholesalers must file the Mahogany Quahog-specific Maine Revenue Service form QUA and pay the Mahogany Quahog tax.  The tax is paid by the bushel according to the legislature, but the Maine Revenue Service used its regulatory power to declare that a bushel of Quahogs must weigh 80 pounds.  Not only do they get taxed but even their weight per bushel (specific gravity) is regulated by the state.  Many other species of clams are found and harvested in Maine waters, but only the Mahogany Quahog has its own special tax.

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Surveillance Close to Home

We are working to register 5,000 Mainers as Libertarians in order to gain full party status in Maine.  We hope to see Libertarians elected to statewide office so that libertarian values can influence the political discourse in Augusta.

In recent years we have seen frequent reports of various domestic surveillance programs, usually conducted by the federal government.  It is pretty clear that all Internet and telephone data is being captured and many license plates are being scanned.  The status of cell phone GPS location data remains a mystery.  The American people do not see this as enough of a problem to demand that the programs be terminated immediately, and politicians are, as usual, "concerned" but take little action.  Unfortunately, surveillance begins closer to home and even a government as limited in resources as is the Maine state government runs secret surveillance databases.

If you go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for any controlled substance, as defined by the federal DEA, the pharmacist, in addition to his usual responsibilities related to safe medication practices, will enter you and your prescription into the Maine Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP).  You will not be told that the entry is being made and you will not be offered a chance to opt out.  If you later contact the government in Augusta to have your supposedly private medical and personal information removed from the PMP database your request will be denied.  Many of the names in the database are those of children who take stimulants for attention deficit disorder.

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The Truth About MaineCare Expansion

It is February of 2015 and Maine hospitals are taking stock of 2014, the first calendar year under the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.  The ACA was supposed to reduce charity care by requiring everyone to have insurance and by providing subsidies for insurance.  However, Maine hospitals are reporting that bad debt and charity care costs are actually skyrocketing, according to this report from MPBN Radio. Hospital administrators are focusing on the lack of Medicaid expansion as the cause of bad debt without even mentioning the debt caused by those who were individually mandated to buy insurance but did not do so.  It is important to note that in states that have not expanded Medicaid, persons eligible for Medicaid under federal rules have been exempt from the individual mandate.

The MPBN report mentions the unwillingness of Gov. LePage to expand the Maine Medicaid (MaineCare) program and it refers to the modest bipartisan cuts to MaineCare in 2013, but it does not mention the substantial MaineCare expansion over the last 10 years.  As a result of vigorous lobbying by the Maine Hospital Association and others, MaineCare was expanded significantly between 2003 and 2011.  During these same years, charity care at hospitals grew steadily while 25,000 childless adults were added to MaineCare rolls and bad debt at Maine hospitals grew from 40 million to 215 million dollars.

enroll_debdt

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Urgent: Petitioning help needed Saturday in Rockland area.

Urgent message from Shawn Levasseur:

 

In order to get on the ballot for the special election for the State House seat representing Rockland and Owl's Head, I have been given two weeks to get the needed petition signatures.

The weather has proven that this has been the worst possible two weeks to have to do this in. Blizzards made the first week a near washout. Fortunately I've been able to get a quarter of the signatures i need over this past weekend (along with some frozen toes from the effort)

But more storms may hit during the week, and the signatures are due this coming Monday in Augusta. This coming weekend will determine if I will be able to get on the printed ballot, or have to run as a write-in.

So with this in mind, I'm encouraging anyone who can help with petitioning on Saturday the 14th.  If you can help, please call me at 207-594-9365, or email me at Shawn_L@lpme.org. With more hands we can cover several locations at the same time, and be able to ensure that the Libertarian Party will be represented on the special election ballot this March 10th.

I'll be petitioning on Sunday the 15th as well, if need be, and would be glad for any help on that day as well, but there aren't as many prime locations open on that day. 

Thanks for your support.

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