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Like many cancer patients, Mykayla Comstock takes medical marijuana to ease the often intense side effects of chemotherapy. But unlike other patients, Mykayla is a 7-year-old with leukemia.
Her mom Erin Purchase says the pills pushed Mykayla into remission, seemed to boost her appetite and decreased the nausea from her chemotherapy treatments. “It helps me eat and sleep,” Mykayla told the Oregonian.
But her father doesn’t agree, and some doctors and researchers say they’re worried about the effect medical marijuana could have on a developing child.
What do you think? Should seriously ill young children be given medical marijuana?
Voters in Colorado and Washington have set up a potential showdown with federal authorities over recreational pot.
The federal government can sue to strike down state legislation that preempts federal law. (It did so when it struck down parts of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law this year). But some legal advocates say the Obama administration will have a much tougher time with the two marijuana initiatives.
The problem is that, unlike in immigration law, states are already intimately involved with making and enforcing drug laws, said Alan Hopper of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Francisco. Even as the list of states allowing medical marijuana use has grown, no lawsuit arguing federal preemption has yet succeeded in shutting down any medical weed dispensaries, Hopper said — largely because arguments that the feds are solely responsible for enforcing drug policy don’t hold up in court. Although the end users are different, the new laws in Colorado and Washington will be similarly protected.
Our reporter Erik German went along on a real-life pot bust (and lived to tell us about it). We could tell you how he did it, but weed prefer it came from Erik himself. Read his incredible first-hand account here:
Swinging under a helicopter, hiking in the mountains and seeing a huge drug bust from the inside – this was hands down the best day I’ve ever spent at work. That’s probably obvious from the goofy grin plastered on my face as I’m flying through the air. What’s less obvious is how much has to go right – and how many people have to help out – for a video like this to happen for The Daily.
First, the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office very graciously allowed us to tag along while their officers took on the dangerous task of eradicating an illegal pot-farm deep in the backcountry. They took a bit of a risk letting us come along. With millions of dollars worth of weed on the line, growers have been known to shoot at the police during raids. The sheriff and his deputies told us at the outset there’d be no guarantees in terms of what we’d see, and the deal at the outset was the two fools with cameras – that would be me and cameraman Dan Edblom – would have to hike into the garden, while the officers took helicopters.
Luck plays a role in almost every video shoot I’ve been a part of – good and bad – and this time, we had a bit of the good kind on the ground. The police staging area for the pot raid turned out to be about 4 miles from the illegal garden, and hiking there would have taken hours. For safety reasons, the police wouldn’t let us hike through the woods unaccompanied. But none of the cops were keen on slogging with us off-trail across two heavily forested ridge lines – especially when the helicopter could slash that travel time from hours to minutes.
“How would you guys feel if we just short-hauled you over there?,” asked the sergeant leading the raid.
Short-hauling is an Army special ops technique for rapidly helicoptering a handful of ground troops to a rugged spot without having to land the aircraft. It involves hanging men two at a time from a 100-foot long rope beneath the helicopter then flying them through the air at 90 miles per hour. It is ridiculously, hilariously, terrifyingly fun.
We told the sergeant we would not mind being short-hauled.
Shooting our story on the ground meant carrying gear up and down crazy steep hills, picking our way through thick underbrush and doing a fair amount of sweating and swearing when things went wrong. But the real challenge of video production always comes after you bring the footage home. Video stories don’t tell themselves and the relationship between a hard drive full of raw footage and a finished video is a distant one. It’s roughly that of scrap metal to a finished watch.
Because I’m no video editor – and because I had a print story to finish – two skilled craftsmen in my newsroom stepped in to make the story happen. One of our top producers, Vivek Kemp, laid out a basic structure for the piece and also wrote the scripted lines you hear me read when I’m not on screen. Broadcast writing is harder than it looks, because you’ve got to write in a way that sounds like talking but still conveys as much information as a printed page. The best scripts don’t call attention to themselves but instead somehow teleport information and images into your head in a perfectly-sequenced and almost preconscious way. I think Vivek succeeded wonderfully here.
The next step is actually cutting the footage together using the script as a guide. This job fell to Jon Tortora, one of the best editors in The Daily’s talent-rich editing pool. Editing moving images involves hundreds upon hundreds of decisions –when to cut, what to cut and what music you’ll hear – and more than anything else this stage of the process determines what kind of experience awaits the viewer who presses “play.” The editing process really amounts to a second writing of the piece, except that instead of just manipulating words, the editor manipulates speech, sounds, pictures and the overall pace of the experience. We see and consume so much television in our daily lives it’s easy to forget that the experience of watching – every instant of it – has been stage-managed by an editor who spent hours shaping those instants. I encourage you to keep an eye out for more of Jon’s work in The Daily because he’s extraordinarily good at what he does.
For me, this story was a fun day at work. I hope it provided our readers an interesting look at a uniquely aggressive front in America’s war on drugs. That’s a win in our newsroom – and making it happen week in and week out takes a lot more people than the guy whose face shows up in the video.
We got a first-hand look at the war on drugs — and now you can too! The Daily embedded Erik German alongside California law enforcement officials as they choppered in to raid an illegal marijuana farm.
The officers landed on a thickly forested mountainside, and fanned out with machetes in hand, hacking down every green marijuana bush they found. The day’s haul would amount to more than 10,000 plants with a value of $2 million.
“Stay with us,” the team leader, Bruce Smith, cautioned an embedded reporter from The Daily. “We’ve been shot at a few times before.”
Introducing kratom, a still-legal hallucinogenic drug imported from Asia that is growing in popularity in the U.S. despite potentially fatal side effects. The Daily’s Katie Drummond tracked it down in NYC with two phone calls!
In the U.S., the growing presence of kratom is quickly brewing into a heated debate, pitting health officials and law enforcement agencies against dedicated users.
While officials warn that kratom can have dangerous, unpredictable side effects, some users claim the leaf has eased their health problems, and even helped them kick harder drugs like heroin or addictive prescription medications including Xanax and Oxycodone.
“Kratom has put the pieces of my life back into place,” Richie Beck, a 29-year-old administrative asssistant at a Philadelphia law firm, told The Daily.
Our pupils are dilated! A shocking new study found a whopping 86 percent of high school students say their classmates are drinking alcohol, smoking or doing drugs during the school day.
A top Mexican drug operative nicknamed “the queen of crime” used popular Latin recording artists to smuggle weapons and funnel millions in methamphetamine profits, The Daily has learned exclusively.
Anel Violeta Noriega Rios of the bloody La Familia Michoacana cartel laundered money through many legitimate businesses, but a favorite was paying six popular Latin bands approximately $500,000 each for gigs that would normally cost $50,000, according to Mexican law enforcement document.
The maker of OxyContin wants FDA approval to label the controversial painkiller for use by children as young as 6, The Daily has learned, hoping to extend the use of the original patent and the company’s bottom line.
“They are doing (the pediatric trial) for patent exclusivity, there’s no doubt about it in my mind — not out of largesse,” said Dr. Elliot Krane, director of pain management at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. “That’s important for their bottom line.”
The family-owned pharmaceutical company earned an estimated $2.8 billion in revenue last year from sales of the powerful opioid, part of the same drug family as morphine and heroin. Purdue is fiercely guarding its exclusivity in the market through ongoing legal battles, and now, it appears, through a pediatric trial that could stave off competitors for another six months.
Somebody’s going to need more green! One of the nation’s largest brokers of medicinal marijuana permits owes the IRS $2.7 million.
The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation owes up to $2.7 million in unpaid income, foundation and payroll taxes from as long ago as 2004 on assets in Detroit, Seattle and Oakland, Calif., according to Internal Revenue Service documents.
Foundation director Paul Stanford, 51, has been at the forefront of the legalization movement since the 1980s. He disputes the $2.7 million figure, saying it’s about $1 million in taxes and $1 million in penalties.
The foundation is making an “offer in compromise” — appealing to the IRS to accept a lesser amount — and is hoping to “clear it up this year,” he said by phone from his office in Portland, Ore.