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Here Comes Hemp: Congress Votes To Unleash A Billion-Dollar Industry

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Photo Credit: Getty

Phillip Smith, Drug Reporter

The Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday gave final approval to the massive 2018 Farm Bill, including a provision that will end an eight-decade ban on industrial hemp, that non-psychoactive but extremely useful member of the cannabis family. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

Even though you could smoke a hemp joint the size of a telephone pole and get nothing more than a cough and a headache, for decades the DEA has refused to recognize any distinction between hemp and cannabis that gets you high. That meant that American farmers could not legally produce hemp for a hemp products industry worth $820 million last year and expected to break the billion-dollar mark this year.

That’s right: Thanks to a federal court case brought against the DEA more than a decade ago, farmers in countries where hemp is legal can export it to the U.S., and companies in the U.S. can turn that hemp into a variety of products ranging from foods to clothing to auto body parts to building materials and beyond, but U.S. farmers can’t grow it. That’s about to change.

For too long, the outrageous and outdated ban on growing hemp has hamstrung farmers in Oregon and across the country,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). “Hemp products are made in America, sold in America, and consumed in America. Now, hemp will be able to be legally grown in America, to the economic benefit of consumers and farmers in Oregon and nationwide.”

Wyden and fellow Oregonian Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) teamed up with Kentucky Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell to sponsor the bill and guide it through Congress. McConnell’s role as Senate Majority Leader certainly didn’t hurt the bill’s prospects.

As well as guiding the bill forward, McConnell took to the Senate floor on various occasions to support it. In his statement on the passage of the farm bill, he touted “the new opportunities available with the full legalization of industrial hemp.”

Finally we are recognizing industrial hemp for the agricultural product it is,” Merkley said. “This is a cash crop that hasn’t been allowed to meet its full economic potential because of outdated restrictions. When I visited a hemp farm mid-harvest, I saw first-hand the enormous potential of this diverse crop under the limited 2014 farm bill. This full legalization provides economic opportunity for farmers across rural Oregon and rural America—good for jobs, good for our communities, and just good common sense.”

The bill defines hemp as cannabis with 0.3 percent THC or less by dry weight and removes it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Regulatory authority over hemp moves from the DEA to the Agriculture Department. The definition of hemp in the bill includes all parts of the plant and specifically lists cannabinoids, including CBD, that are removed from control of the CSA. The bill also includes funding and authorization for research and authorizes crop insurance for hemp farmers.

The inclusion of CBD has the potential of greatly expanding the size of the legal hemp industry. Hemp-based CBD wellness products—a category that didn’t exist five years ago—already account for nearly a quarter of the domestic hemp market, and the Hemp Business Journal predicts they will account for nearly $650 million worth of sales by 2022, becoming the single largest sector of the hemp market.

It’s been more than 40 years since Jack Herer ignited the cannabis movement’s interest in hemp with The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Cannabis Conspiracy. Herer is long gone—he died at age 70 in 2010—but the movement he launched has now reached the promised land. The single most ridiculously unjustifiable aspect of federal cannabis prohibition has been killed; now it’s time to finish the job by ending federal cannabis prohibition.

About the Author

Phillip Smith writes for Drug Reporter, a project of the Independent Media Institute, and where this article was originally featured.

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Animal World

Indigenous Community In Canada Mourns After Poachers Kill Sacred White “Spirit Moose”

First Nation communities in Canada are in a shock after a rare white moose, seen as a “spirit” animal, was killed by suspected poachers.

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Indigenous Community In Canada Mourns After Poachers Kill Sacred White “Spirit Moose”
Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) First Nation communities in Canada are in a state of shock and anger after a rare white moose, seen as a “spirit” animal to indigenous people, was killed by suspected poachers.

The rare white moose, seen as a sacred creature by the native culture, was killed by poachers near the city of Timmins, Ontario, leaving locals in a state of mourning.

The corpses of two female moose, including a majestic white cow, were discovered shot and discarded along a service road with their entire bodies intact, including the head, reports The Guardian.

Local residents have traditionally revered the white moose population – as well as white animals including bison, ravens, and grizzly bears – who have a ghostly pallor due to a recessive gene, and have been sighted moving quietly among the aspen and pine forests of the region.

Community leaders are perplexed about the seemingly needless execution of the creature.

Everybody is outraged and sad. Why would you shoot it? No one needs one that bad,” remarked Chief Murray Ray of the Flying Post First Nation.If you have a license to shoot a cow moose, you could shoot another one. Just leave the white ones alone.”

The incident is now under investigation by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Signs around the area warn against killing the creatures, which are now under legal protection under laws that locals fought hard for.

“I really hope they find the people that are responsible for this and they’re charged,” Murray added.

Troy Woodhouse, a fellow member of the Flying Post First Nation community, noted that anyone who sees the moose in person would likely realize “how much of a sacred animal it is and rare and majestic to see.”

It saddens me that somebody would take such a beautiful animal,” Woodhouse added.Nobody knows exactly how many are in the area, so the loss of a single spirit moose is one too many.”

Woodhouse fondly remembers the first time that he saw a young white bull moose alongside his wife near the home of his grandfather’s home, which is also in the region.

“It was a sign that he’s watching over us on the land. It was very special to me,” he said.

Woodhouse has personally volunteered to give CAD $1,000 to anyone who volunteers any information that leads to the hunters’ arrest, or for them if the killing was a mistake and they decide to turn themselves in. Others, including animal rights activists and a drilling company, have contributed CAD $8,000 (USD $6,121) for a pool that will go to anyone who can help find the culprit.

“Maybe hunters tried to get one moose and got the other by accident,” he added. “If a person does come forward and admit what they did, I would put my portion towards any of their legal fees. There’s so much negativity in the world today. It’s nice to just see some people banding together and trying to turn this into something positive.”

The creatures are extremely rare in the region. Wildlife photographer Mark Clement, who says that he has seen at least four over the years, estimates that only 30 of the white moose reside in the area.

This isn’t the first time that the slaying of the creatures has outraged indigenous communities in Canada.

In 2013, three hunters killed a white moose in Nova Scotia and faced charges by the Mi’kmaq people. They were eventually forced to return the animal’s pelt to Mi’kmaq authorities so that a days-long mourning ceremony could be held to honour the rare and majestic creatures.

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Scientists Accidentally Discover Massive, Skyscraper-Sized Coral Reef On Great Barrier Reef

The remarkable, 1,600-foot-tall underwater structure is taller than New York City’s Empire State Building.

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Coral Reef
Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) A massive, detached coral reef the size of a skyscraper has been discovered in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, researchers announced Monday, marking the first such find in over a century.

The remarkable, 1,600-foot-tall underwater structure – the first to be discovered in 120 years – is taller than manmade buildings like France’s Eiffel Tower, New York City’s Empire State Building, and Britain’s tallest building, the 95-storey The Shard.

The unexpected discovery was made on Oct. 20 by a team of Australian scientists on the Schmidt Ocean Institute research vessel Falkor who were on a 12-month expedition conducting underwater mapping of the northern seafloor of the Great Barrier Reef.

On Sunday, the team used the institute’s underwater robot or remotely operated vehicle (ROV) SuBastian to explore the new reef. The institute live-streamed the robotic dive and subsequent “climb” up the reef, allowing viewers across the world to enjoy close-up views of the tremendous natural structure.

The blade-like reef measures nearly a mile wide at its base, and its tallest point extends to about 130 feet below the surface of the ocean.

This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean,” Wendy Schmidt, the institute’s co-founder, said in a statement“The state of our knowledge about what’s in the ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies that work as our eyes, ears and hands in the deep ocean, we have the capacity to explore like never before. New oceanscapes are opening to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us.”

The towering reef lies off the coast of North Queensland, in the area surrounding Cape York. Since the late 19th century, seven detached reefs have been found in the region.

“We are surprised and elated by what we have found,” said Robin Beaman, a marine geologist at James Cook University who is leading the expedition. “To not only 3D map the reef in detail, but also visually see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible.”

The expansive Great Barrier Reef comprises about 2,900 reefs and 900 islands. It is home to an incredible array of fish, shrimp, and various other reef denizens.

In recent years, dead coral reefs have become one of the major horrors resulting from the impact of human economic activities, with thousands of miles of coral ecosystem across the globe being transformed into bleached-out graveyards due to the devastating impact of fast-heating ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, pollution, marine pests, and overfishing.

The newfound reef is completely separate from the main shelf edge of the Great Barrier Reef, and very little is known about why such detached reefs exist.

And while the Great Barrier Reef has felt a devastating impact from recent coral bleaching, the newly-discovered reef appears to be mostly intact.

“To find a new half-a-kilometre tall reef in the offshore Cape York area of the well-recognized Great Barrier Reef shows how mysterious the world is just beyond our coastline,” said Jyotika Virmani, the executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “This powerful combination of mapping data and underwater imagery will be used to understand this new reef and its role within the incredible Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.”

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The Amazon Rainforest Is Coming Dangerously Close To Permanently Converting Into Dry Savannah

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications found that as much as 40% of the Amazon rainforest could become a savannah-like environment.

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Photo Credit: Daily Sabah

(TMU) – A vast swathe of the Amazon is teetering on the brink of disaster and risks crossing the tipping point of transforming from a closed canopy rainforest teeming with life to an open savannah with few trees as climate conditions deprive the region of rainfall and effectively kill its unique ecosystem, scientists have warned.

Rainforests are extremely sensitive to even the slightest changes in rainfall and moisture levels, and extended periods of drought and fire can be devastating in areas that rely on rain for sustenance. In the Amazon, such conditions would transform the lush rainforest into a semi-arid savannah-like mixture of woodland and grassland while also boosting the risk of fire.

While such dramatic changes to the Amazon were believed to be worst-case scenarios that could happen decades away, a team of Europe-based scientists warned on Monday that the tipping point is now dangerously close.

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications found that as much as 40% of the existing Amazon rainforest is already seeing so little rainfall that it could exist as a savannah-like environment, deprived of its canopy-like tree coverage and with far less biodiversity.

Researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Center used computer models and data analysis to stimulate the effect of continued climate change resulting from emissions from burning fossil fuels from now until the end of the century to find the results.

Rainforests typically create their own rainfall through water vapour, which then sustains and even extends the reach of tree levels.

However, when rain levels plummet, forest land also begins to fade away and degrade – resulting in a drier landscape that becomes more susceptible to the ravages of fire, drought, and ultimately, total deforestation.

The situation in the Amazon has only grown worse as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has stubbornly pushed forward the opening of the rainforest to economic development, unleashing a wave of human-caused fires meant to illegally clear one of the region so that it can be exploited by miners, cattle ranchers, loggers, and big agricultural interests.

This year’s fires in the Brazilian Amazon are the worst in a decade, marking a dizzying 60% rise in fire hotspots compared to last year’s infamous blazes.

The rainforest is so delicate that even the most subtle changes in climate conditions can have an outsized impact on the ecological balance of the environment, said the study’s lead author, Arie Staal.

As forests grow and spread across a region, this affects rainfall,” he told The Guardian. “Forests create their own rain because leaves give off water vapour and this falls as rain further downwind. Rainfall means fewer fires leading to even more forests.”

However, the loss of large areas of rainforest mean a precipitous drop in rainfall levels across the region.

“Drier conditions make it harder for the forest to recover and increase the flammability of the ecosystem,” Staal said.

At that point, the rainforest crosses a threshold and converts into a savannah-type environment – a conversion that is difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.

“It is harder to return from the ‘trap’ caused by the feedback mechanism in which the open, grassy ecosystem is more flammable, and the fires, in turn, keep the ecosystem open,” Staal said.

Experts have warned that the Amazon rainforest is a crucial barrier to the catastrophic breakdown of global climate conditions. Without the Amazon rainforest, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could become out of control and drive global warming to intolerable levels while the change in rainfall patterns could impact the entire Western Hemisphere.

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Tragically, the loss of rainforests like the Amazon would also entail the extermination of a huge portion of global species.

“We understand now that rainforests on all continents are very sensitive to global change and can rapidly lose their ability to adapt,” said study co-author Ingo Fetzer of the Stockholm Research Center. “Once gone, their recovery will take many decades to return to their original state. And given that rainforests host the majority of all global species, all this will be forever lost.”

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Animal World

Half A Million Sharks Could Be Killed To Make COVID-19 Vaccine

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Half a Million Sharks Could Be Killed to Make COVID-19 Vaccine
Photo Credit: TMU

Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline may need to slaughter half a million sharks to harvest squalene, an oil made in shark livers, to make a new line of COVID jabs. Glaxo mixes squalene with a witches’ brew of proprietary surfactants to produce its controversial AS03 vaccine adjuvant. Adjuvants are compounds that amplify immune response to hyperstimulate the immune system. They are associated with a variety of autoimmune diseases.

Scientific studies have linked squalene adjuvants to Gulf War syndrome and to a wave of debilitating neurological disorders including epidemics of narcolepsy caused by Glaxo’s H1N1 Pandemrix vaccine during the 2009 swine flu “pandemic.” One study showed a 13-fold increased risk of narcolepsy in children who received Pandemrix.

The devastating cascade of brain injuries to children and health care workers forced the termination of that Glaxo vaccine after European governments used only a small fraction of the jabs they had purchased from Glaxo. A recent study links squalene to carcinomas. In a bizarre and reckless twist, Glaxo has revived the dangerous adjuvant as its hall pass to the COVID-19 money orgy.

The company said it would manufacture a billion doses of this adjuvant for potential use in coronavirus vaccines. Around 3,000 sharks are needed to extract one ton of squalene.

Shark Allies, a California-based group, said Glaxo will kill around 250,000 sharks to make enough AS03 for the world’s population to receive one dose of its COVID-19 vaccine. If, as expected, two doses are needed, half a million sharks must die.

Glaxo declared that it would be producing 1 billion doses of AS03 “to support the development of multiple adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidates.”

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Glaxo has developed partnerships with multiple companies, including its behemoth rival Sanofi, China’s Clover Bio and Innovax Biotech in the city of Xiamen. Glaxo has also agreed to make the technology available to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations for COVID vaccines in Australia and elsewhere. Glaxo said it is focusing on what it considers a “proven technology” that will give the company “several shots on goal.”

Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. CHD is implementing many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission.

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