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Finding legal psychedelic products isn’t easy, as most of them are illegal. However, since Muscimol, and Ibotenic acid (the two active compounds found in these mushrooms) are legal in most parts of the world, you can freely order them online. Amanita mushrooms, traditionally used, offer a less hallucinatory and more spiritual experience compared to regular magic mushrooms. Yet, with the right dosage, they can also become highly psychedelic, often accompanied by very vivid dreams in the nights following consumption.
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Cannabis leasing is incredibly complicated for both lessors and lessees. But things can get a lot more complicated in competitive license jurisdictions. I’ve worked with both lessors and lessee-applicants in competitive licensing jurisdictions, and today want to highlight some of the key things I’ve seen over the years.
#1 Why competitive licensing is different from everything else
If you’re reading this and are not familiar with competitive licensing, I’m referring to localities (or in some cases, states) that only allow a small, fixed number of licenses. In competitive licensing jurisdictions, you’ll often see dozens of applicants for a small handful of available licenses – for example, thirty or so applicants for four licenses.
You may point out that most cities in fact have some kind of cap on licenses, either expressly, because there is a finite application window, or because there is restrictive zoning. However, what I refer to as competitive licensing is a situation where, maybe 1-6 licenses will be available in one short application period.
This is why I refer to “competitive” licensing. And it gets truly competitive. Applicants may end up spending hundreds of thousands on legal, design, consulting, and other fees to just to submit an application. Without any guaranty of success.
So as you can imagine, this creates some pretty interesting dynamics for cannabis leasing. And that brings me to point #2.
#2 Is a cannabis lease even mandatory?
Put yourselves in the shoes of a competitive license applicant. You may be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars submitting an application with no guaranty of success. You may be up against a dozen or more highly capitalized, highly qualified companies looking for the same license. Do you want to get locked into a multi-year lease without any guaranty of being able to operate? Obviously not.
Many localities address this by requiring applicants to provide something less than a full-fledged lease. This may include a lease with an early termination right if the license doesn’t come through. Or it could be as simple as an option to lease or even an LOI. Recently, the trend seems to be in favor of binding options to lease, which is generally more “binding” than a simple LOI.
In all of these cases, the lessor usually wants something to allow the lessee to apply for the license. If there’s a lease with an early termination option, this may be reduced rent for some initial period – sometimes even reduced through a buildout. If it’s an option, there may be a monthly option fee that would be commensurate with some kind of reduced rent. But overall, lessors are generally charging the lessee something. After all, they are keeping the property off the market while the lessee applies for a license.
#3 Location, location, location
Both competitive licensing and more “open” jurisdictions limit potential locations to specific zones and areas within their borders. There are also generally buffer requirements (e.g., you can’t be next to a school). In my experience though, competitive licensing jurisdictions tend to be even more restrictive in terms of where applicants may apply. A trend I’ve seen is that applicants must often get a “zoning verification letter” prior to applying. A ZVL will allow the city to provide some initial sign-off on the proposed location.
In a jurisdiction with a restrictive location map, potential lessors are in for a lot of calls. I’ve worked with competitive licensing lessors who get numerous calls from brokers or potential lessees for leasing in restrictive map situations like this. Obviously, this means that rental value can go up – way up.
At the same time, lessors generally have zero experience with cannabis and are unfamiliar with cannabis laws. Lessors must be careful not to make promises about zoning, location compliance, buffer zone restrictions, or anything else. This should be squarely on the shoulders of the prospective lessee. Smart lessors disclaim and representations about basically anything in their agreements with the lessees.
#4 Lessors should expect some participation in the process
In any competitive cannabis licensing process I can remember, lessors are required to submit documents to the city that authorize the applied-for use. For some reason, simply signing a lease that authorizes the use just isn’t enough. So many localities require lessors to sign documents acknowledging that their lessee will be authorized to engage in cannabis use once licensed. The trend now seems to be to require lessors to sign not just statements, but notarized attestations.
Some localities go above and beyond. I’ve seen some that require lessors to certify that they only leased the property to the lessee at issue, in an effort to prohibit lessors from entering into multiple options to have fallback options if one proposed lessee doesn’t get a license (more on that below). Lessors should be aware of what they are signing so they don’t end up liable for some kind of false statement or even perjury.
#5 What can lessors do to hedge their risk?
Most localities require that lessors only authorize one specific entity to apply for a license at the lessor’s property. This is good for the proposed tenant, who has no competition for the specific property (after all, what would happen if two companies won at the same property?). But it’s not great for lessors, who have to trust that their proposed lessee will beat out all the competition or walk away. What landlord would want to get property leased for only a few months and start that process all over again?
Some cities address this by allowing lessors to authorize multiple applicants at the same address. This is obviously better for lessors. But it’s not great for lessees for the inverse reason of what I noted above. In those places, lessors should expect to see proposed lessees demanding exclusivity – and in those cases the lessors may be justified in asking for higher option payments.
Competitive licensing is tough, but can be made a lot more difficult if the property owner and proposed lessee aren’t on the same page. Dealing with the issues raised above is critical at the outset, or an applicant can waste a lot of time and money on a situation that won’t work. Stay tuned to the Canna Law Blog for more cannabis real estate issues.
Is cannabis addiction a treatable medical condition? According to one doctor, “cannabis addiction is a real and treatable medical condition.” She claims the “cannabis legalization movement” has successfully pushed back against this narrative due to the drug war. Fortunately, Dr. Salwan is not one of these old-school drug warriors. She knows cannabis doesn’t turn people into criminals and that cannabis prohibition has led to the mass incarceration of peaceful (mostly black) Americans. Dr. Salwan represents the new school of drug […]
Stoptober. This phenomenon is more than just the combination of the words ‘stop’ and ‘October’. Every year, countless individuals around the world make the decision to quit smoking, recognising the numerous health benefits and improved quality of life that come with breaking the habit.
In the United Kingdom, an initiative known as Stoptober, created by the National Health Service, has been playing a significant role in helping people kick the smoking habit for good. With October on its way, we’ll be exploring what Stoptober is, its history, the benefits of quitting smoking, and the resources available to support individuals on their journey to a smoke-free life. Let’s do this.
What Is Stoptober?
So what actually is Stoptober and what’s the point of it? Well, Stoptober – a brilliant combination of two words – is an annual public health campaign in the United Kingdom that encourages people to quit smoking for the entire month of October. Launched by Public Health England (PHE) in 2012, this campaign has grown significantly in popularity over the years, motivating millions of smokers to take the first step towards a smoke-free life. What began as a UK affair, has now developed into a worldwide movement. Spectrum writes:
“Stoptober is a national smoking cessation campaign led by Public Health England that encourages smokers to start by abstaining from smoking for 28 days during the month of October. In England… first implemented in 2012… versions have since been adopted in other countries, including New Zealand, the Netherlands, and France, following a positive evaluation of the first campaign”
The central idea behind Stoptober is to provide support, motivation, and resources to individuals who wish to quit smoking, making it easier for them to succeed. As anyone who’s ever tried to quit anything will know – be it drinking, unhealthy food, or smoking – doing it with other people makes it a lot easier. How easy would it be to avoid having that delicious Friday pint if all your mates were avoiding it too. Or, in this case, how much easier would it be to stop smoking if lots of people around the world were doing it too.
The History of Stoptober
Where did it come from? The concept of Stoptober was inspired by similar successful campaigns in other countries, such as “mois sans tabac” (month without tobacco) in France and “Stoptober” in the Netherlands. Public Health England adapted and launched the campaign in the UK in 2012, capitalising on the idea that setting a specific, month-long quit date could help individuals overcome the psychological barriers associated with quitting smoking. We’ll get on to why using a month to begin with can be a very useful method of quitting a bit later. Since its inception, Stoptober has seen remarkable success, with millions of participants and numerous success stories of people who have successfully quit smoking during the month of October. Supposedly, since its creation in 2012, over 10 million people have attempted Stoptober. The Gov UK website writes:
“Stoptober continues to effectively drive smokers to make a quit attempt. In 2020, the campaign generated quit attempts among 12.3% of all smokers and recent ex-smokers, with 4% reporting that they were still not smoking at 4 weeks.”
Like Dry January, and many other months dedicated to quitting a habit, Stoptober has become an annual tradition for many, offering a structured and supportive environment for those looking to stop smoking.
How Stoptober Works
So, how does it work? Well, Stoptober is a campaign that helps you quit smoking during October – that much is clear. But there are specific methods that help along the way. Here’s how it goes down:
Choose Your Quit Date
The first step is choosing your quit date. Participants are encouraged to set a specific quit date within the month of October. This date serves as a target to work toward, helping individuals mentally prepare for their quit attempt. Usually, as you’d expect, this is the 1st of October.
There’s a bunch of online and offline resources that the Stoptober campaign offers. These include a dedicated website, a mobile app, and a free Quit Kit, which can be ordered online or picked up at specific pharmacies.
There’s also support that comes with the Stoptober app. The app and website provide personalised support based on individual smoking habits and preferences. Users can set goals, track progress, and access helpful tips and advice. Participants can also engage with others on the online community, sharing their experiences, challenges, and success stories. This sense of community can be incredibly motivating. It’s always easier stopping a habit when you have other people’s stories to feel inspired by. How is anyone supposed to know that climbing a mountain is possible, if there’s no one who’s climbed it around to tell their story? It’s the same concept.
For those who require it, Stoptober provides access to NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) products, such as nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges, to help manage withdrawal symptoms. They may also suggest you try vapes, although this probably doesn’t count as completely stopping smoking. Although, if you’re finding it very difficult to stop, a vape is better than smoking.
The methods behind Stoptober are not random, they are rooted in behavioural science and evidence-based strategies. There’s a lot of thought that goes behind this approach of quitting. By encouraging participants to set a quit date and providing support in the form of resources, counselling, and NRT, the campaign addresses some of the key factors that influence successful habit breaking. Remember, it supposedly takes around a month to develop a habit, which can also apply to breaking them. Committing for an entire month seems like a far more accessible plan than simply quitting forever. However, the reason why this is perfect, is because after that month the substance will have far less of a hold over the user. The GOV UK website writes:
“People are 5 times more likely to quit for good if they can make it to at least 28 days smoke free”
This kind of goal setting is accessible, doable and genuinely effective. In addition, goal setting is also a part of this behavioural therapy. Setting a starting date establishes a clear and achievable goal, making it easier for individuals to commit to quitting. Then, when individuals feel stuck or tempted, there’s a great deal of online support for them to look through to not feel so alone. In addition, because it’s a global movement, the chances of smokers finding other people that are also giving Stoptober a try is highly likely. Therefore, as is the case with collective mentality, stopping with others simply is easier. You’re part of a campaign, not on your own.
Why Quit Smoking?
You most likely already know this stuff, but reminding yourself why you want to stop smoking is paramount to increase the success of Stoptober. If you can always remember the ‘why’, then the ‘how’ becomes a lot more doable. Around 80% of the world smokes, which is around 1.3 billion people. In the UK, it’s around 6.6 million people and in the US it’s around 28.3 million. Smoking is everywhere and it’s a leading cause of preventable death worldwide. In fact, in the US, half a million deaths a year are smoke-related. Smoking is responsible for a range of health problems, including:
Smoking is the largest preventable cause of cancer worldwide, with carcinogens in tobacco smoke leading to lung, mouth, throat, oesophagus, pancreas, and bladder cancers.
Smoking damages the lungs, leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. This makes it harder to breathe, as well as do exercise.
Smoking significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
Smoking can affect fertility in both men and women and is linked to complications during pregnancy, including low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome.
Smoking accelerates the ageing process, leading to premature wrinkles, yellowed teeth, and an ‘old look’.
Smoking is an expensive habit, with the cost of cigarettes accumulating over time. It’s way cheaper to not smoke than to smoke.
Although it’s rather bleak to think about all the problems and health concerns that smoking causes, it’s also good to remind yourself if you are deciding to try Stoptober. These hard cold facts may be the driving force for your quitting attempt.
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Remember, if you do try Stoptober, another great reason to keep going is for all the benefits. Quitting smoking is not just about avoiding health problems; it also comes with a wide range of immediate and long-term benefits. Some of the most notable advantages of quitting smoking include:
The body starts to repair itself almost immediately after quitting. Lung function improves, and the risk of many smoking-related diseases decreases.
Increased Life Expectancy
Quitting smoking significantly extends life expectancy. The earlier one quits, the greater the benefits. Woop!
Better Quality of Life
Ex-smokers report improved quality of life, including enhanced physical fitness, better sleep, and increased energy levels.
Quitting smoking results in substantial financial savings by not purchasing cigarettes. You can finally go for all those expensive meals you wanted!
By quitting, individuals also protect their loved ones from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
Sense of Accomplishment
Successfully quitting smoking is a remarkable personal achievement that boosts self-esteem and confidence. It might feel difficult now but, once you do it, you’ll feel like an absolute boss.
Stoptober is a vital public health campaign that has made a significant impact in the UK and beyond. By providing support, resources, and a structured framework for quitting smoking, it empowers individuals to take control of their health and break free from the grips of tobacco addiction. While Stoptober is a great starting point for anyone looking to quit smoking, the journey to a smoke-free life is a personal one, and it may require multiple attempts. Anyone who tries, deserves a round of applause. So what do you reckon, will you give it a go?
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Sometimes it feels like the drug world is a continuous game of cat and mouse. The law being the cat, and the drug-makers being the mouse. Every time a substance is banned, another synthetic one will pop up in raving culture, that is supposedly better and legal. That’s exactly what we have with the designer drug: 3-MMC.
Short for 3-Methylmethcathinone, this synthetic stimulant is part of the cathinone class of chemicals, with effects similar to those of amphetamines and MDMA. There are a lot of disparate opinions surrounding this substance, with some users claiming it has the high of ecstasy, without the comedown. However, there’s also very little scientific research into the drug. We’re going to be delving into the chemistry of 3-MMC, hearing first-hand accounts from users, and figuring out whether this drug has some sort of magical powers that others do not. Let’s go.
There’s no doubt that drug culture is very hard to keep up with nowadays. New, cool and intriguing substances are popping and then slowly diminishing from people’s awareness all of the time. A lot of these substances are designer drugs. Designer drugs, also known as synthetic drugs or research chemicals, are substances created in a laboratory to mimic the effects of existing drugs while avoiding legal restrictions or detection in standard drug tests. These drugs are designed by altering the chemical structure of known compounds or creating entirely new compounds that interact with the body’s receptors in ways similar to traditional drugs like opioids, stimulants, or hallucinogens. Science Direct writes:
“Designer drugs of abuse exist in a dynamic market with new drugs appearing all the time. Based on their chemical structures, designer drugs can be classified into amphetamine types… It is important to stay at the forefront of drug detection techniques and strategies to allow speedy identification of new substances as they emerge.”
Each new substance will have a moment of being popular and – in a sense – legal, until eventually it is discovered by law enforcement and cracked down on. Designer drugs are chemically modified versions of existing drugs or entirely new compounds. These alterations are often made to evade existing drug laws and regulations. By changing the chemical structure, manufacturers hope to create substances that are not explicitly controlled by legal frameworks. At first, when these new substances are easy to access and legal, they become increasingly popular as party drugs. However, the moment they become illegal and difficult to access like any other substance, people will often return to the usual favourite banned substances. These include: cocaine, MDMA and ketamine. The types of ‘new’ designer substances that have stood the test of time include: spice, crystal meth and 2CB. There is always a worry and an excitement with designer drugs, which is due to the chemical structure change that happens to them. This alteration can either be incredibly dangerous, or can lead to a new and incredible effect that no other recreational substance has ever had. It’s two sides of the same coin.
What is 3-MMC?
In the last few years, 3-MMC has broken into the limelight. You may have heard of it, you may have not, but it’s certainly been raising some eyebrows. Let’s see what this synthetic substance actually is. 3-MMC is a synthetic compound that shares structural similarities with both cathinone and methcathinone, two substances known for their stimulant properties. It acts as a releasing agent for neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, leading to enhanced mood, increased energy, and heightened alertness. The chemical structure of 3-MMC has evolved as an attempt to create a legal alternative to substances like MDMA and amphetamines.
How It’s Taken
Users take 3-MMC much the same as MDMA. It comes, most commonly, in a white powder that can be bombed (wrapped in a rizla and swallowed), snorted or poured in a drink. Sometimes 3-MMC can also be sold in a pre-made capsule that can then be swallowed.
The rise of 3-MMC has been recent, existing as a ‘legal’ designer drug version of 4-MMC (mephedrone). The Face writes:
“It was one of the most popular drugs at English summer festivals last year, with research finding that 45 percent of substances sold as “MDMA” last year in fact contained cathinones. One of the most prevalent cathinones was 3‑MMC.”
Supposedly, at the Lost Village UK festival, the substance was being sold as Louis Vuitton pills, pretending to be ecstasy. Due to covid restrictions in 2020-2022, the demand for MDMA was not being matched by the lack of supply. Because of this, 3-MMC was being sold instead. This was occurring all around Europe. In 2022, the European Commission made it their goal to ban the substance of 3-MMC, after reporting its increase in supply around the continent. The Face goes on to write:
“Many countries in the EU are just banning 3‑MMC now, so this has become part of the bizarre game of whack-a-mole between the law-makers and underground chemists. One substance gets banned, another pops up in its place like an unelected Tory prime minister.”
So whilst it’s rather comical to watch this game of whack-a-mole, it is important to understand what 3-MMC actually feels like. You can list off a bunch of supposed effects that a drug might have, but really what counts is people’s genuine, real-life accounts. Does this drug genuinely have no comedown?
What 3-MMC Feels Like
As we’ve heard, 3-MMC has very similar effects to MDMA. Due to this, some have made the case that the drug has the euphoria of ecstasy, without any of the next-day comedown. Of course, if that was to be true, it would be a serious game changer. I myself was attending festivals in London in 2021/2, during the supposed MDMA-shortage period, and remembered friend’s talking about this new mandy-like substance. All they said to me was that it felt slightly less potent than MDMA, which annoyed quite a few people if I recall. Vice reports speaking to a user of 3-MMC, who warns:
“Psychologically, 3-MMC can make you feel euphoric, sociable and increase your libido. However, it also has side effects: insomnia, anxiety and even psychosis… “It’s a FOMO drug,” Giraud explains. “It completely messes up with your notion of pleasure. It’s as if you were about to cum, but you never actually do.”
What this user claims, is that 3-MMC does not quite live up to the euphoric sensation of mandy. Meaning that you are constantly in that limbo stage, waiting for the satisfaction to come, but it never really does. Maybe there’s something to this. If 3-MMC is a slightly less potent version of MDMA, then it would make sense to assume that the next-day comedown would also be less potent too. Here are two accounts from Reddit users:
“I didn’t think 3mmc had one. I plan on using one last time for a festival in 2 weeks and then I will only use it monthly. It’s incredibly underrated, I saw much negativity towards it, but it was so unique. I think it’s great when you want to have an mdma like experience, without the mdma comedown and high serotonin depletion”
“I almost feel as if I’m in an afterglow today, after using for 2 days and only sleeping for 7 hours… I don’t ever do stuff like this often though, so maybe that’s why.”
For those unaware, the term ‘afterglow’ describes a pleasant feeling that remains after something equally pleasant has just happened. In a sense, it’s the opposite of a comedown. However, this is not the only reputation of 3-MMC. Actually, it has also had quite a lot of bad press too. The Face describes its effects quite vividly:
“Think: the stimulant effects of MDMA but minus the rushy empathy, the horniness of cocaine without the ego, and the longevity of speed but with a worse comedown. It feels like halfway between ecstasy and coke but it lasts a lot longer. With clean MDMA, you can expect to sleep when you get home from a club. With 3‑MMC, you’re not going to sleep for a while. This is a drug that’ll keep you in the club until that traumatic moment when they turn the house lights on and it feels like your brain is dribbling out of your eyeballs.”
Does this not sound like the polar opposite of the accounts that we’ve heard so far? Reddit users also go on to agree with the idea of this end-of-the-night feeling:
“3-MMC has some of the worst comedowns of any drug I’ve tried (and I’ve tried quite a few). It’s only redeemed slightly by the fact that the comedown doesn’t last too long”
“I’ve experienced 1 of the worse comedowns from 3mmc. Gotta add that I used to binge for 2 days with 5 g’s whenever I took 3m. 3mmc can have gnarly comedowns.”
With any reasonably new designer substance, it’s really difficult to find any sustained truths of the effects. As is the case with this game of cat and mouse, the mouse has to constantly find different ways to dodge from the hands of the law. Thus, these varying effects could be due to structural differences in the substances that these users are taking. Who knows? What is clear however is that people experience all drugs in their own way, and whilst some people get incredibly bad comedowns, others do not. This has always been the way of the recreational drug world. It is incredibly hard to know, for certain, how a substance will make you feel – especially when it’s fresh in the game. So does 3-MMC have no comedown? Well, reports seem to suggest yes and no. But maybe you know something we don’t? Tell us your stories.
As inklings of extraterrestrial life continue to make headlines, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will begin to use advancements in artificial intelligence to better monitor the skies in the hopes that non-human eyes may help them understand unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings and other events that may indicate a non-human presence.
NASA said that artificial intelligence (AI) will be “essential” in fully understanding the data surrounding unidentified anomalous phenomena and their origins in talks that followed the release of their highly anticipated UFO report.
The report did not conclude one way or the other whether NASA believes UFO’s are of extraterrestrial origin, but in a press briefing on September 14 the Administrator of NASA emphasized that the agency would continue to use all the resources at its disposal to prove or disprove that the unidentified objects showing up all over American military radar and otherwise baffling the world’s best scientists are of extraterrestrial origin. These resources now include AI programs that can comb through very large datasets for information a human might miss or take much longer to find.
“We will use AI and machine learning to search the skies for anomalies… and will continue to search the heavens for habitable reality,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “AI is just coming on the scene to be explored in all areas, so why should we limit any technological tool in analyzing, using data that we have?”
NASA administrators emphasized both in the report and press briefing that data surrounding unidentified anomalous phenomenas (UAP’s) and UFO’s is often very hard to analyze or quantify partly because of the nature of the topic and partly because it’s a very large swath of data. By using new tools made possible by artificial intelligence, NASA believes they can find patterns or anomalies in data that humans have thus far been unable to find.
“So a lot of our data are just sort of wiggly line plots. We get excited about wiggly line plots, by the way, but sometimes, you see the wiggles, but you miss a signal,” said Dr. Nicola Fox, associate administrator for NASA. “By using artificial intelligence, we can often find signatures. So one example we’ve had is to be able to find signatures of superstorms using very old data that, you know, really is before sort of like routine scientific satellite data.”
NASA made several recommendations in their 36-page UFO report with regard to how their own team and others should approach and analyze data about UAP’s. Utilizing artificial intelligence tools was emphasized as crucial to understanding a very large and complex data pool which could be concealing evidence of life beyond our stars or lack thereof.
“The panel finds that sophisticated data analysis techniques, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, must be used in a comprehensive UAP detection campaign when coupled with systematic data gathering and robust curation,” the report said.
A question asked during the briefing made note of recent congressional efforts to better understand, regulate and if necessary hamper or cease developments in the artificial intelligence field. When asked if these efforts would interfere with any NASA projects, Administrator Nelson said he doubts it.
“No, I don’t think that any attempts that Congress has underway to try to write a law that would appropriately put guardrails around AI for other reasons is anyway going to inhibit us from utilizing the tools of AI to help us in our quest on this specific issue,” Nelson said.
The report stressed there were several reports of UAP’s that NASA had no way to explain by modern scientific understanding, but they found no definitive evidence that these anomalies are from life outside of Earth.
“The top takeaway from the study is that there is a lot more to learn,” Nelson said. “The NASA independent study team did not find any evidence that UAP have an extraterrestrial origin, but we don’t know what these UAP are.”
The NASA UFO report was released after several months of increasingly strange UFO and alien related news. Earlier this month, supposed alien corpses were displayed before Mexican Congress. Additionally, American congressional hearings where testimony was given to indicate that the United States government may be in possession of crashed alien spacecrafts and the bodies of their pilots.
In the interest of learning more about these strange phenomenon, NASA’s report made several more recommendations outside of the use of AI including the production of better sensors to track such things and more collaboration between the different government agencies studying UFO’s.
“At present, analysis of UAP data is hampered by poor sensor calibration, the lack of multiple measurements, the lack of sensor metadata, and the lack of baseline data,” the report said. “Making a concerted effort to improve all aspects is vital, and NASA’s expertise should be comprehensively leveraged as part of a robust and systematic data acquisition strategy within the whole-of-government framework.”
A bid to bring legalization to the Badger State started in earnest last week, with Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin announcing legislation on Sept. 22 that would end the prohibition on recreational cannabis.
The bill was introduced by state Sen. Melissa Agard and state House Rep. Darrin B. Madison.
Agard, who is the minority leader in the Wisconsin state Senate, announced the legislation at an event held at a Wisconsin hemp farm and said that the status quo poses more harm than marijuana.
“I’ve said this time and time again, we know that the most dangerous thing about cannabis in Wisconsin is that it remains illegal,” Agard said, as quoted by local news station WSAW. “For the past decade, I have worked to undo Wisconsin’s antiquated and deeply unjust marijuana policies and put our state on a prosperous path forward.”
Under the proposal, adults in Wisconsin aged 21 and older could legally have marijuana in their possession. The measure would also lay the groundwork for a regulated cannabis market to launch in the state.
If it were to become law, Wisconsin would join nearly 40 other states in the country to permit adult-use marijuana. That includes many of Wisconsin’s neighbors in the Great Lakes region, which Agard said has resulted in lost revenue for the Badger State.
“Right now, we are seeing our hard-earned money go across the border to Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota to the tune of tens of millions of dollars each year. That is money we could be reinvesting to help support our friends and neighbors and make our state a place where people want to live, work, and play,” Agard said, as quoted by WSAW.
In a statement of his own, Madison said that legalizing cannabis “is a matter of public safety and racial justice here in Wisconsin.”
“People in Wisconsin indulge in cannabis use, and deserve the ability to buy safe cannabis and use it responsibly without being criminalized. According to the ACLU, Black people were 4.24 times more likely to be arrested than white people in Wisconsin during 2018. Similar disparities exist in convictions, leading to immeasurable harm to black communities in Wisconsin. The bill we’ve introduced today lays a solid foundation for those that have been harshly convicted for non-violent possession charges and the ramifications of those Convictions,” Madison said.
Polling data likewise shows that marijuana legalization is popular with residents in Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin is ready to legalize it—69% of Wisconsinites, including a majority of Republicans, support the full legalization of marijuana. It is way past time that our state honors the will of the majority and seizes the many positive economic and social benefits that cannabis legalization has to offer. Let’s join folks in over half the nation who have said ‘yes’ to putting the half-baked politics of prohibition behind us and set our expectations higher,” Agard said in a press release.
The Republican-controlled state legislature, however, may not be ready. Despite broad public support, as well as the backing from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin have thus far resisted legalization.
“These aren’t fringe ideas, controversial concepts, or Republican or Democratic priorities—they’re about doing the right thing. With a historic surplus comes historic responsibility, and today, when we can afford to do more, this vote is foolish and a wasted opportunity,” Evers said at the time.
Evers, who was elected as governor of the state in 2018 and re-elected last year, has long been a vocal champion of marijuana legalization.
“There is power in redemption and forgiveness, especially for folks who’ve been working to move beyond their past mistakes to be productive, positive members of their communities,” Evers said in a statement released at the time. “I’m grateful for being able to give a second chance to these individuals who’ve worked hard to do just that.”
Earlier last year, Evers vetoed a GOP-backed measure that would have imposed more stringent penalties for those who get busted for pot, calling it “another step in the wrong direction.”
“I am vetoing this bill in its entirety because I object to creating additional criminal offenses or penalties related to marijuana use,” Evers said in 2022 in a letter to the assembly.
“It is widely accepted, and, indeed, research over the course of the last decade confirms, that marijuana criminalization has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color, especially in Wisconsin where have long-standing racial disparities in incarceration rates,” Evers added.
Evers concluded his letter and explained his interest in justice reform.
“State across our country—both Democrat and Republican-controlled alike—have and are taking meaningful steps to address increased incarceration rates and reduce racial disparities by investing in substance use treatment, community reentry programming, alternatives to incarceration, rehabilitation and other data-driven, evidence-based practices we know are essential solutions to reforming our justice system,” the governor continued regarding the issue. “The data and the science are clear on this issue, and I welcome the Legislature to start having meaningful conversations around justice reform in Wisconsin.”
With cannabis being akin to alcohol in so many states, we’re seeing shifts in legislation that may soon affect college athletics.
On Sept. 22, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) recommended new guidelines concerning drug testing of college athletes.
More specifically, the commission suggested that NCAA Divisions I, II, and III remove cannabinoids from the NCAA’s banned drug list. Beyond the obvious tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), this would also remove less common cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN).
The biggest influence on this decision comes from a 2022 Summit on Cannabinoids in College Athletics that was held in December 2022. There, it was determined that cannabis (and the cannabinoids found within it) is not a performance-enhancing drug. Furthermore, the CSMAS also added the following to its recommendation:
To check the ineffectiveness of current drug testing.
The NCAA should only focus on performance-enhancing drugs.
The NCAA should address school education and support, rather than athletic penalties.
According to Committee Chair and Lead Sports Psychologist at Ohio State, James Houle, the current governing body is out-of-date. “We are recommending a big shift in the paradigm when it comes to cannabinoids,” Houle said. “We want to modernize the strategy with the most up-to-date research to give schools the best opportunity to support the health of student-athletes.”
The Debate of Cannabis as a Performance-Enhancing Substance
This isn’t the first time that cannabis has come into question due to its potential as a performance enhancer. In 2020, during the Tokyo Summer Olympics, Sha’Carri Richardson was barred from the 100-meter race due to testing positive for cannabis.
In this particular instance, there was the debate that cannabis gives you a “runner’s high”—effectively allowing you to compete better. Colorado journalist Josiah Hesse described the runner’s high as merely improved focused. “What I heard so often from athletes who use cannabis is the phrase ‘dialed in.’ They become myopically focused on the task at hand,” Hesse told The New York Times. “Any anxiety that they have about thousands or millions of people watching them, about their careers being at stake, or whether that injury from last year is going to hold up—it all melts away.”
Still, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that cannabis can make you bigger, stronger, or faster. In fact, the scientific research that has been conducted so far suggests that cannabis would decrease athletic performance.
Admittedly, even this evidence is slim. One of the most cited comes from an 2018 study where healthy participants smoked cannabis and then performed strength and exercise tests. Researchers found that cannabis increased heart rates, spiked blood pressure levels, and inhibited one’s ability to exercise.
However, such evidence hasn’t deterred the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which only recently updated its guidelines concerning cannabis. As of this time, THC is prohibited only in competitions and when urinary concentration exceeds 150 ng/mL.
Naturally, there should be more research into this topic to make such determinations. Unfortunately, this research is limited due to cannabis’s current standing as a Schedule I substance.
As we’ve seen continuously in headlines recently, this may change soon. The Department of Health and Human Services recently sent a recommendation to reschedule cannabis to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Beyond removing a number of barriers, this would allow for more research into cannabis-related topics.
Naturally, this could have an effect on the NCAA’s decision when it comes to college athletics. Ultimately, it would lead to a more modern-day approach to cannabis and how athletes determine to use it.
Beyond Athletics, Cannabis Criminalization May Also Be Affecting Academics
Alongside allowing athletes to consume cannabis, it’s worth briefly discussing the fact that most colleges also ban the use of the substance. In regards to recreation, this is understandable as colleges also ban the use of alcohol. However, there’s been much debate on the ethics of this in regard to the potential medical benefits for college athletes.
One of the biggest issues is that many colleges are subjected to federal law as long as they receive federal funding. Due to cannabis’s current position as a Schedule I substance, it comes as no surprise that even medical cannabis is banned.
The rescheduling of cannabis may help to change laws in this department, but ultimately, federal decriminalization is the ideal solution. It would ensure the safety of many federal institutions, including banks.
And this safety should be a top concern of universities. If students are struggling with a medical condition that cannabis can relieve, wouldn’t it be in a college’s interest to allow that relief in order to achieve top academic performance?
On Sept. 13, information about the results of a new Phase 3 Trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD treatment was published by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Substances (MAPS). The organization announced that the results of its MAPP2 study have been peer reviewed by the experts with the journal Nature Medicine.
The study analyzed the reaction of 104 participants who suffer from PTSD. Each individual was randomly provided with MDMA or a placebo pill over the course of three sessions, one per month, for three months.
The most common listed side effects among those who received MDMA included muscle tightness, nausea, decreased appetite, and sweating. Following the conclusion of participant involvement, researchers found that 86% of the MDMA group improved on their standard PTSD assessment, compared to 69% of the placebo group. A standard PTSD assessment measures the severity of PTSD symptoms, including anxiety, phobias, insomnia, emotional numbness, and more.
When the study concluded, researchers found that 72% of people within the MDMA treatment group didn’t match the criteria for PTSD, vs. only 48% of the placebo participants.
Georgia-based Emory Healthcare Veterans Program executive director Barbara Rothbaum called the results “very exciting.” There is other evidence that PTSD can be treated with certain medications, or even talk therapy, but Rothbaum said that more research is needed to develop a new alternative for PTSD patients. “They are very effective, but nothing is 100% effective,” Rothbaum said. “So we absolutely need more options for treatment.”
According to Amy Emerson, CEO of the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, the nonprofit intends to seek U.S. approval to sell MDMA (aka ecstasy or molly) as a treatment for PTSD. “It’s the first innovation in PTSD treatment in more than two decades. And it’s significant because I think it will also open up other innovation,” Emerson told AP News.
MAPS founder and president Rick Doblin, a longtime advocate of psychedelics as medicine, released a statement regarding the newest study. “Thanks to the combined efforts of dozens of therapists, hundreds of participants who volunteered in MAPS-sponsored trials, and many thousands of generous donors, MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD is on track to be considered for approval by the FDA in 2024. Nature Medicine has published the results of the second MAPS-sponsored Phase 3 trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, confirming our prior results,” Doblin stated in a press release. “We hope that MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD will be approved by the FDA next year—and that our Open Science, Open Books principle will inspire researchers to make this just the first of many psychedelic-assisted therapies to be validated through diligent research.”
Although these studies help illuminate the benefits of MDMA as a medical treatment, there are a lot of hoops and hurdles that must be dealt with first. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to approve the substance as a treatment first, and the Drug Enforcement Administration would also need to reschedule cannabis’s current classification as a Schedule I substance.
Currently, MDMA is a Schedule I substance, among others including cannabis, LSD, heroin, methaqualone, and peyote. However, with the recent news that the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) recommends that cannabis be reclassified, and the DEA now reviewing the recommendation, it’s possible that other substances like MDMA could also receive similar treatment in the future.
In July, Australia became the first country in the world to allow doctors to prescribe psilocybin and MDMA. It took the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration three years of discussion and extensive consultation with experts. MDMA was approved as a treatment for PTSD, and psilocybin was approved for treatment-resistant depression.
Similarly, many studies have found that psilocybin can help patients with treatment-resistant depression. “These findings add to increasing evidence that psilocybin—when administered with psychological support—may hold promise as a novel intervention for MDD [major depressive disorder],” researchers explained.
In Oregon, more than 3,000 people are waitlisted to attend a legal psilocybin service center—some of which come from various parts of the world. According to the Oregon Psilocybin Services section manager Angela Allbee many patients have shared their experiences in using psilocybin. “So far, what we’re hearing is that clients have had positive experiences,” Allbee said.
Despite the dramatic shift in opinion about cannabis in America, Kentucky law enforcement agents continued to charge people with cannabis-related charges at a steady rate, in tandem with offenses across the board.
According to analysis of the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) data, more than 300,000 people in Kentucky have been charged with a cannabis-related crime over the past two decades. That’s nearly two people every hour, every day between June 2002 and July 2022, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy wrote. To be fair, just one out of 10 of the 3.1 million people charged with a crime in Kentucky in that time period faced cannabis charges, but the numbers are still too high.
“Every corner of the commonwealth has seen people charged with cannabis crimes with some counties having dozens charged and others tens of thousands,” Kentucky Center for Economic Policy wrote.
“Data also reveals starkly different conviction rates, with some rural areas nearly twice as likely to convict someone for a cannabis charge than Kentucky’s biggest city. Still, as much of the country has moved to more permissive policies, Kentucky continues to subject people to incarceration, burdensome fines, community supervision, and criminal charges for cannabis crimes. These consequences have lasting, harmful effects on people’s economic security, employment, health, housing and ability to fully participate in community life. And these consequences often fall disproportionately on low-income and Black and Brown Kentuckians.”
Possession remains the most common cannabis charge in Kentucky, a Class B misdemeanor that can lead up to 45 days in jail and a fine of up to $250.
Cannabis Charges Impact Lives
Just how widespread is the issue? The report’s county-by-county data also shows that every community in the state is affected. “Every Kentucky county had people charged with cannabis offenses during these two decades—from 68 people in Robertson County to 72,717 in Jefferson County,” the report reads. “Expressed as the number of annualized cannabis-related charges per 1,000 county residents in the two-decade period, 1.5 people per 1,000 had a cannabis charge in Robertson County in contrast to 8.4 people per 1,000 in Carroll County. Lyon County is an outlier, where 16.4 people per 1,000 had a cannabis charge.”
“While most of those 300,000 people were charged with possession, their lives are still impacted,” Kaylee Raymer, policy analyst for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, told Fox 56. “Whether it’s through fines and fees, it could affect their ability to get public housing or their ability to get a job if that’s on their record. So there are still consequences that come with cannabis-related charges.”
The Kentucky Legislature reduced the penalty for cannabis possession in 2011 and the 2023 General Assembly took an important step in legalizing a limited model of medical cannabis starting in 2025. The only qualifying conditions are chronic pain, chronic nausea/vomiting, epilepsy/seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms/spasticity, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
That said, Kentucky is still among just 18 “cannabis desert” states that continue to prohibit cannabis in spite of the shift in public opinion.
Over the past two decades—running from July 1, 2002 to June 29, 2022—an estimated 303,264 people in Kentucky were charged with various cannabis offenses, according to AOC data published by the Vera Institute of Justice. Since 1983, the prison custody population has increased 168%, the Vera Institute of Justice reported in its recent Incarceration Trends Report.
In 2019, 20,087 people were charged with a cannabis offense, with a 53% conviction rate. But due to the pandemic, there were much fewer arrests and case delays as most courts were closed.
Curiously, despite cannabis being viewed as virtually harmless by many, cannabis conviction held steady in tandem with conviction rates for all offenses. Between 2003 and 2021 the conviction rate for people charged with cannabis offenses was 59% and for all offenses was 63%, on average.
New Changes in Kentucky Cannabis Law
There are also new laws in place, particularly regarding hemp-derived cannabinoids.
On March 23, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed a bill to regulate hemp-derived delta-8 THC products. Beshear signed an executive order last year to regulate delta-8 THC and similar products, but that only affected the packaging and labeling of products.
House Bill 544 mandates that only adults 21 and over can buy products containing delta-8 THC—a hemp-derived compound frequently marketed as psychoactive—which began on August 1.
Per the bill, the state will regulate “any product containing delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol or any other hemp-derived substance identified by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services as having intoxicating effects on consumers.”