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Corporate choices

I’m fascinated by all the concerned “freedom-fighters” who are opposed to companies mandating vaccination, negative COVID tests, and/or masks.

Where have they been when it came to decades of drug testing?

It seems odd to me that many of those who were fine with drug testing (which was never about on-the-job impairment and so didn’t affect other employees) are upset with corporations taking steps to ensure that they have a safer working environment where a lethal contagious disease is less likely to be spread.

I had the privilege of working my entire life without ever having to take a job that required drug testing (I had decided I would never do so). I realize that not everyone had could do that.

I’m retired now, so I don’t need to accept any work, but I would add to it that I wouldn’t accept a job with a company that didn’t take proactive steps to reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19.

Now that the Supreme Court has nixed the government mandate for employee vaccinations, it’ll be interesting to see what individual companies decide. Just like some of the more enlightened companies realized that drug testing requirements were driving away talented folks who liked to smoke pot, companies will now have to decide whether to attract those workers who care about their health or anti-vaxxers.

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Still Happening

Two Moms Reported to Child Services for False Positive Drug Tests from Poppy Seeds

Today, two women filed lawsuits against Garnet Health Medical Center alleging that the Middletown, New York, hospital drug tested them without their consent when they were giving birth. They both tested “presumptive positive” initially, but later tested negative — as did their newborns — and the false positives were the result of eating poppy seeds.

The women allege that hospital staff interfered with their ability to breastfeed, despite their newborns testing negative. The hospital also reported their unconfirmed, false positive results to the state, and child welfare authorities conducted unnecessary and invasive home visits. The suits allege that not only does Garnet Health conduct drug testing without informed consent, but it uses opiate testing thresholds far lower than the levels the federal government uses for workplace testing — 300 ng/mL versus 2,000 ng/ml — levels the government raised more than 20 years ago, specifically because of false positives.

This is truly unconscionable.

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Hemp Sourced Lignin for Grid Backup Batteries

Despite the US federal government’s traditional disdain for certain cannabis ingredients and byproducts, recent research and development indicates that large storage batteries made from a water-based electrolyte and lignin polymers — the substances gluing fibers together in hemp and in wood that give it stiffness can be substituted in many cases for lithium, lead or vanadium in batteries.

Lignin shows promise for large, low-cost electrical grid storage facilities designed to discharge during peak cold weather conditions or in emergencies. With low leakage batteries in place, a natural gas shutdown in Texas in February 2021 would have left fewer Texans in shock and awe of the chaos of climate change. Many Lone Star Staters were completely left out in the cold.

Trees are a huge carbon sink and require preservation, while hemp lignin is a fast growing material that favors peace on earth and good will toward humanity. Hemp can reduce the harvesting of trees while simultaneously cleaning contaminated soil. It’s cheap and easily produced. Used in place of lithium it discourages the British interests and the US Congress’s temptation to knock off democratically elected governments to gain exclusive access to South American lithium deposits.

Lignin from hemp provides the starting material for a circular economy that can make war on petroleum while transforming the polymer industry by phasing out fossil fuel formulated plastics and adhesives in favor of biologically-based recyclables.

Hemp lignin applications are infrastructure boosters and lifesavers. Sizeable charged battery modules can transport stored electrical power to disaster areas. They can provide backup power for entire homes or businesses. Although not as superior in overall performance as lithium, more and better options exist for lignin batteries than supercapacitors which discharge their energy in a much shorter period. Leakage rates are low. Performance capabilities comparable to lead-acid batteries allow lighter weight lignin tech to be retrofitted to diesel-electric freight trains to run without diesel fuel. Retrofits are made simpler because locomotives already run on electric motors with diesel generators producing electricity. Freight trains currently emit 35 million metric tons of carbon dioxide plus other gases and soot from diesel fumes, leading to illnesses each year that cost $6.5 billion to treat and up to 1,000 premature deaths annually. Hemp byproducts are cost-competitive with diesel and current battery technologies and can save the rail industry $94 billion over 20 years.

If the intent is to move quickly to the greenest technologies, then state and federal legislation that favors or stipulates sourcing lignin from hemp rather than timber is a better solution for the ecosystem and farming industries, especially in aiding and transforming the economically challenged coal belts of West Virginia and Wyoming. Switching to hemp, American farmers still tied to the marginal profits of their current produce could finally catch a break. Hemp processors might want to consider the possibility that the lignin they dispose of or burn in the making of fibers and fabrics has a potential value.

A robust hemp and solar industry in rural areas could also help counter the DEA’s and FDA’s mishandling of the regional opioid crisis. Fewer lives of despair due to less poverty and more certainty about a better future can lead to fewer rural suicides and drug ODs. Political support for a hemp economy from the record number of 49% of adults in the US who have smoked weed is virtually guaranteed.

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Finally

How long does it take to implement something that’s proven to work and saves lives?

NYC Safe Injection Sites Open In Landmark Shot To Curb Overdoses

A first-of-its-kind effort in New York City aims to prevent drug users from overdosing and dying in the shadows.

Supervised injection sites will open in Harlem and Washington Heights this week, officials announced.

It’s the first time in the United States these safe havens — also known as “overdose prevention centers” — for people to use heroin and other drugs will open under official approval.

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Quote

“What I do with my body is my business.” – Washington State Patrol veteran Barbara Werner, talking about the COVID-19 vaccination.

Hmmm…

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Positive news from the mess

Amid a Labor Shortage, Companies Are Eliminating Drug Tests. It’s a Trend That Could Create More Equitable Workplaces

A growing number of companies are eliminating workplace drug testing to attract and retain workers amid a global labor shortage […] Vice reported last month that 9% of more than 45,000 employers worldwide are eliminating job screenings or drug tests as an incentive to “attract and retain in-demand talent,” according to a recent study conducted by staffing firm ManpowerGroup. That equates to around 4,050 employers, in 43 countries, that are no longer disciplining or dismissing employees for recreational drug use.

It’s about time.

“Mandatory drug testing isn’t based on suspicion or unprofessional behavior,” says Aamra Ahmad, senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “But a positive test can still cost the person their job, even if the use was legal, or for a medical purpose, or took place days or weeks earlier and doesn’t actually impact job performance.”

Of course, we’ve been saying that here for years. And the really good companies realized that and haven’t been drug testing. But way too many fell for the unsupported hype (and outright lies) that drug testing gets you better employees. More often, a company policy of drug testing was a sign of a lack of competent personnel management within the company.

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The dope on Mexico’s drug war

Benjamin T. Smith’s new book The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug War is a peculiar yet all too familiar account of illicit drugs south of the border.

Smith’s depiction reveals a drug war fostered by the conclusion of the First Transcontinental Railroad project. Rather than being offered railway construction jobs, newly arriving Chinese were rudely barred from entry at the border by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. By 1906, many Chinese immigrants had chosen to settle in Mexico where they faced hostile cultural or racial stereotyping and discrimination.

Forced to adapt and savvy to the manufacturing trades, enterprising Chinese immigrant farmers grew opium poppies. Opium sales financed upstarts of legal businesses. When marijuana, cocaine, opium, and heroin were made illegal or controlled in Mexico in 1917, nearly everyone wanted to get into the act of selling drugs, and by the 1920s many did. The illegal drug trade also became a platform for other types of crime, like kidnapping. As history would have it, the drug profession south of the border was largely restricted to wealthy elites, otherwise legitimate business people, politicians, law enforcement, the military—the usual cast of characters who exploit the poor and who can be found operating in Mexico’s current drug trafficking industry.

Harry J Anslinger’s marriage into the wealthy Mellon banking family was a move that rebuilt his political image. He began as a minor and ineffective bureaucrat in 1931, only to emerge as a monumentally huge and distasteful bureaucrat when he helped craft the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

By the time Anslinger crawled out from beneath his rock, superrich Mexican drug lords had been knocking each other off Hollywood-style for two decades. Anslinger, always the opportunist, used the situation in Mexico to turn the fledgling and domestically limited Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) into an agency that could reach out internationally. All the newly hired bureaucrats hailed him. All the hype and reefer madness, all the outbursts of mythical deadly violence or insanity blamed on ditch weed originated first in Mexico—not from the mind of Harry Anslinger (Hank, to his friends).

Enter the CIA. Mexico was of interest to the agency because it viewed it as a buffer zone that could be shaped and manipulated to thwart Communist movements emanating from various parts of Central and South America. The drug war made resisting Communism, socialism, liberalism, modernism, intellectualism, science, and democracy comparable to a walk in the park. It provided an excuse for US government agents to operate on foreign soil. The scheme was a profitable way to control Mexico’s economy and inhabitants. Other than drugs, among the most highly valued parts of Mexico’s economy are still oil, gas, and mining resources.

Systemic drug war graft is useful. It facilitates indirect and unofficial payments of bribes to foreign officials using only drug merchants’ cash. Joyful cooperation with US economic interests is assured. The drug war machine is designed to be the government’s ultimate inconvenience, a scapegoating mechanism that justifies its own existence by subjecting Mexico and other countries to an organized misery that undermines chances for a better quality of life.

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Marijuana gateway theory suffers new setbacks

Scapegoating drugs for society’s problems is becoming increasingly difficult thanks to researchers who study childhood distress and how it affects a person’s adult life. Trauma has emerged as a leading culprit contradicting the claim that marijuana use leads to opioid addictions. A recent study from the University of Barcelona notes that:

“…children and adolescents who have suffered child maltreatment by adults show alterations, in early stages of life, in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), one of the main biological mechanisms of stress regulation […]

…The study shows that, in those subjects who had been exposed to child maltreatment for a longer period of time, there was greater dysfunction in the HPA axis, regardless of the severity of the experiences they had suffered. […]

And from Ohio State University:

… new research suggests that those with substance misuse issues as adults may have had particularly difficult childhoods…scores assessing childhood trauma exposure among adults with substance misuse issues were 24% higher than previous estimates for other adults in the child welfare system, and 108% higher than the general population.

Not surprisingly, children in these families also have suffered more trauma. […]

And from the University of Exeter:

Experiences of childhood trauma (abuse and neglect) are disproportionately higher in those with opioid use disorder (OUD). Childhood trauma may affect the reinforcing and rewarding properties of opioid drugs and responses to pain, potentially via developmental changes to the endogenous opioid system. […]

The trauma group reported liking the effects of morphine, feeling more euphoric and wanting more of the drug over the session, as well as feeling less nauseous, dizzy, and dislike of the effects of morphine compared to the non-trauma comparison group. Morphine increased pain threshold and tolerance, yet this did not differ between the groups. Childhood trauma may therefore sensitise individuals to the pleasurable and motivational effects of opioids and reduce sensitivity to the negative effects, providing compelling evidence for individual differences in opioid reward sensitivity. This may explain the link between childhood trauma and vulnerability to OUD, with consequent implications on interventions for OUD, the prescribing of opioids, and reducing stigmas surrounding OUD. […]

Excuses for foisting a war onto people due to their drug of choice presume the behavior is a vice meriting the severest punishments. It appears arresting and jailing people for drug use is considered simpler and more cost-effective than compensating or treating each individual for a screwed-up childhood. Prohibition is made the path of least resistance for certain politicians and law enforcement officials who fail to view science or medical technology as posing viable alternatives to the traumatizing brute force of arrests and incarceration.

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So, we were right all along?

The years we spent dealing with the tired “What about the children?!?” arguments.

Of course, we pointed out that teens may actually not be as eager to rebel with marijuana when grandma is taking it for her glaucoma. And we noted that illegal drug dealers don’t generally check I.D.s for age, while legalized dealers must. And every legitimate study consistently found that legal access to marijuana did not result in increases in teen use.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow finally agrees.

Top Federal Drug Official Admits Legalizers Were ‘Right’ About Teen Marijuana Use And Touts Psychedelics’ Therapeutic Potential

Volkow said on Drug Policy Alliance founder Ethan Nadelmann’s show that she was “expecting the use of marijuana among adolescents would go up” when states moved to legalize cannabis, but admitted that “overall, it hasn’t.” It was reform advocates like Nadelmann who were “right” about the impact of the policy change on youth, she said.

Yep.

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