The Marijuana Nuns of Merced, California 

Cannabis-growing ‘nuns’ grapple with California law: ‘We are illegal’

The Sisters of the Valley’s “abbey” is a modest three-bedroom house on the outskirts of Merced, in a cul-de-sac next to the railroad tracks. (Sister Kate calls the frequent noise from passing trains “part of our penance”.) When visitors come to the door, Sister Kate asks them to wait outside until she can “sage” them with the smoke from a piece of wood from a Russian tree given to her by a shaman.

Sister Kate lives here with her “second sister”, Sister Darcy, and her youngest son.

But these aren’t your average nuns. The women grow marijuana in the garage, produce cannabidiol tinctures and salves in crockpots in the kitchen, and sell the merchandise through an Etsy store. (Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the active ingredients in marijuana that is prized for medicinal qualities and is not psychoactive.) The women perform their tasks wearing long denim skirts, white collared shirts and nun’s habits. And while their “order” is small – last week they ordained their third member, a marijuana grower in Mendocino County known as Sister Rose.

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But their ambitions have been thwarted by legislation that was passed last year – 19 years after medical marijuana was first legalized in the state – to regulate the billion-dollar industry through the Medical Marijuana Safety and Regulation Act.  An error in the final text of the law has resulted in scores of cities across the state passing local bans on the cultivation, distribution, and sale of the drug, including Merced, a small city in California’s Central Valley where the Sisters live.

The legislation accidentally established a 1 March 2016 deadline for cities to impose their own bans or regulations on medical marijuana or be subject to state rules, a deadline that assembly member Jim Wood, who authored that section of the bill, said was included by complete accident.

Wood has drafted fix-it legislation, which he’s optimistic will pass in the legislature by the end of next week and be signed by the governor immediately after. But next week is too late for the Sisters of the Valley.

“If it was a typo, that’s great. If it wasn’t, who knows,” said John M Bramble, the city manager of Merced, the morning after Merced’s city council passed its medical marijuana ban. Either way, “it’s too late,” he said. “We’re banning it for now because if we don’t, we’ll have no local control.”

That leaves the Sisters of the Valley in a precarious position. “We are completely illegal, banned through commerce and banned through growing,” said Sister Kate. “They made criminals out of us overnight.”

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Despite Sister Kate’s Catholic upbringing, the Sisters “are not affiliated with any traditional earthly religion”. The order’s principles are a potent blend of new age spirituality (they time their harvests and medicine making to the cycles of the moon, and pray while they cook to “infuse healing and intent to our medicine”), environmentalism (“We think the plant is divine the way Mother Earth gave it to us”), progressive politics (asked whether she’s offended if someone drops her title and calls her “Kate”, Sister Kate responds: “It’s offensive that no banksters went to jail”), feminism (“Women can change this industry and make it a healing industry instead of a stoner industry”), and savvy business practices.

Sister Kate was looking for a “second sister” when a mutual friend arranged a phone call with Darcy Johnson. After just a thirty minute conversation, the 24-year-old from Washington state was ready to move to Merced and join the order. Sister Darcy had spent time in New Zealand working on an organic farm, and now, back in the States, was looking for a better way of life.

“This is my better,” Sister Darcy said.

The day after Merced’s ban on medical marijuana was passed, the sisters were preparing for battle. Sister Kate is planning to start a call-in campaigns across the Central Valley, urging growers and customers to flood city council members with phone calls every Friday until they come up with reasonable regulations.

Whatever happens, though, the Sisters of the Valley are answering to a higher authority. “We’re not accepting their ban,” said Sister Kate. “It’s against the will of the people, and that makes it unnatural and immoral.”

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Brain Enhancers

I saw a documentary the other day titled “Smart Drugs.” It is incredible what people will do to improve their physical and especially mental performance. One fella in the doc was swallowing up to a hundred pills a day!

Nootropics (colloquial: smart drugs and cognitive enhancers) are drugs, supplements, and other substances that are claimed to improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals.

The use of cognition-enhancing drugs by healthy individuals in the absence of a medical indication spans numerous controversial issues, including the ethics and fairness of their use, concerns over adverse effects, and the diversion of prescription drugs for non-medical uses. Nonetheless, the international sales of cognition-enhancing supplements have continued to grow over time, and reached US$1.96 billion in 2018.

In 2018 in the United States, some nootropic supplements were identified as having misleading ingredients and illegal marketing. In 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned manufacturers and consumers about possible advertising fraud and marketing scams concerning nootropic supplements.

Nootropics are frequently advertised with unproven claims of effectiveness at improving cognition. The FDA and FTC warned manufacturers and consumers in 2019 about possible advertising fraud and marketing scams concerning nootropic supplement products. The FDA and FTC stated that some nootropic products had not been approved as a drug effective for any medical purpose, were not proven to be safe, and were illegally marketed in the United States under violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Over the years 2010 to 2019, the FDA warned numerous supplement manufacturers about the illegal status of their products as unapproved drugs with no proven safety or efficacy at the doses recommended, together with misleading marketing.

Availability and prevalence

In 2008, the most commonly used class of drug was stimulants, such as caffeine. Manufacturers’ marketing claims for dietary supplements are usually not formally tested and verified by independent entities.

In 2016, the American Medical Association adopted a policy to discourage prescriptions of nootropics for healthy people, on the basis that the cognitive effects appear to be highly variable among individuals, are dose-dependent, and limited or modest at best.

Use by students

The use of prescription stimulants is especially prevalent among students. Surveys suggest that 0.7–4.5% of German students have used cognitive enhancers in their lifetimes. Stimulants such as dimethylamylamine and methylphenidate are used on college campuses and by younger groups. Based upon studies of self-reported illicit stimulant use, 5–35% of college students use diverted ADHD stimulants, which are primarily used for enhancement of academic performance rather than as recreational drugs. Several factors positively and negatively influence an individual’s willingness to use a drug for the purpose of enhancing cognitive performance. Among them are personal characteristics, drug characteristics, and characteristics of the social context.

Side effects

The main concern with pharmaceutical drugs is adverse effects, which also apply to nootropics with undefined effect. Long-term safety evidence is typically unavailable for nootropics. Racetams, piracetam and other compounds that are structurally related to piracetam, have few serious adverse effects and low toxicity, but there is little evidence that they enhance cognition in people having no cognitive impairments.

In the United States, dietary supplements may be marketed if the manufacturer can show that the supplement is generally recognized as safe, and if the manufacturer does not make any claims about using the supplement to treat or prevent any disease or condition; supplements that contain drugs or advertise health claims are illegal under US law.

Some of the most widely-used nootropic substances are the cholinergics. These are typically compounds and analogues of choline. Choline is an essential nutrient needed for the synthesis of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter), and phosphatidylcholine (a structural component of brain cell membranes).

Citicoline – Compound consisting of choline and cytidine. Several meta-analyses found that it is likely effective for improving memory and learning in older people with mild cognitive decline, as well as in people who are recovering from a stroke. There is little evidence it enhances cognition in young, healthy people.
Choline bitartrate – Choline bitartrate is a tartaric acid salt containing choline (41% choline by molecular weight). At least one meta-analysis has found choline bitartrate to be ineffective at improving any measure of cognitive performance.
Alpha-GPC – L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine has thus far only been studied in the context of cognitive performance alongside other substances such as caffeine. A more comprehensive meta-analysis is needed before any strong conclusions are made about Alpha-GPC’s usefulness as a nootropic.

The term “nootropic” was coined by Corneliu Giurgea in 1972 to describe a new classification of molecules that acted selectively towards the brain’s higher-level integrative activity. In order for a product to qualify as a true nootropic, it must fulfill Giurgea’s five criteria for the category. 1.It should aid with improvement in working memory and learning. 2.Supports brain function under hypoxic conditions or after electroconvulsive therapy. 3.Protection of the brain from physical or chemical toxicity. 4.Natural cognitive functions are enhanced. 5. It requires to be non-toxic to humans, without depression or stimulation of the brain.

North Korea launches ballistic missile at North America

After doing some bad methamphetamine, Kim Jong Un and his brown nosing generals decide to hit the U.S. with their new long-range missile the KN-08. The intended target was either Los Angeles or San Francisco according to RAND Corporation analysts.

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The missile guidance system fails, as predicted by Stephen Colbert, and lands a thousand miles to the north. The missile and its nuclear warhead land in southern Alberta, Canada. Barley missing blowing up a herd of 10,000 black Angus cattle.

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It is time Canada gets on board with the U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense system.

The Doors of ‘Psychoactive Drug’ Perception

The term ‘psychoactive drug’ is used to describe any chemical substance that affects mood, perception or consciousness as a result of changes in the functioning of the nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

Psychoactive drugs are divided into 3 groups:

  • depressants: they slow down the central nervous system; for example: tranquillisers, alcohol, petrol, heroin and other opiates, cannabis (in low doses)
  • stimulants: they excite the nervous system; for example: nicotine, amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine
  • hallucinogens: they distort how things are perceived; for example: LSD, mescaline, ‘magic mushrooms’, cannabis (in high doses)

A few DOORS to contemplate:

 

Early effects of an LSD trip

 

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LSD trip two hours in

 

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Cocaine

 

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DMT

 

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Magic Mushrooms

 

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Cheap Sherry combined with Tylenol 3

 

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Crack Cocaine

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Mescaline

 

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Ecstasy

 

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Marijuana

 

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Heroine

 

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Alcohol

 

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Fentanyl

 

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Russian Curler Caught Doping At Winter Olympics

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Victoria Moiseeva, in a high-stakes match, found it impossible to push a brewing scandal out of her mind on Monday morning at Gangneung Curling Centre. It was the first time in her life, she said, that she could not fully focus while competing.

“It’s a catastrophe,” she said.

Moiseeva, the skip, or head curler, of the Russian women’s team was referring to the possible effects of a failed doping test by a fellow Russian curler here at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

She and some other Russian athletes fretted that the damage from this single case could be widespread.

“This is simply terrifying to think about,” she said.

The athlete, Alexander Krushelnytsky, is the first from Russia to come under investigation at these Games for using a banned substance, jeopardizing the bronze medal he won last week in the mixed doubles competition with his wife. It also complicates Russia’s effort to rehabilitate its image after a vast state-backed cheating scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games it hosted left it nominally barred as a team from the Games.

The International Olympic Committee had been considering allowing Russia to march under its own flag at the closing ceremony Sunday. But several members now privately suggested that allowing that would risk appearing to appease Russia and could undercut an effort to play up the peacemaking presence of a North Korea delegation at the Games.

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On rare occasions, there have been doping violations in curling, since it is, on balance, a taxing feat of endurance to sweep the broom round after round. The sport, however, is not accustomed to being at the center of such a high-profile case, so the news sowed confusion and puzzlement among the curlers here.

Curling is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles. It is related to bowls, boules and shuffleboard. Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a circular target marked on the ice. Each team has eight stones, with each player throwing two. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored for the stones resting closest to the center of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones. A game usually consists of eight or ten ends.

Curling sheet of ice

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Not to be confused with another Scottish sport called Hurling.

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