Sutton Bechtold – Cannabis and the banks


The legalization and sale of recreational cannabis is a booming industry in the state of Colorado generating profits as high as $5 million in sales in the first week alone. Typically, retail cannabis is exchanged through cash-only transactions and the cash is often stored in-house in excessive amounts due to one issue, the banks won’t accept money that has been associated with cannabis due to fear of prosecution.

The denial of cannabis retailers to deposit cash safely and securely raises obvious concerns in regards to public safety. By hoarding large amounts of currency, retail shops become easy targets for burglaries and assault as well as other criminal activity putting customers and employees at serious risk. The issue was recently addressed when the Department of Treasury as well as the Justice Department released a non-binding memorandum on February 14th which states that banks may choose to work with retail cannabis stores without fear of legal prosecution so long as they remain in compliance with state laws. Although a significantly progressive and historic action by the federal government, the guidelines are largely symbolic and do not provide credible legal security for banks working with retail cannabis shops and most companies continue to remain dubious towards involvement with the the cannabis industry. According to federal law, banks accepting money from retail cannabis businesses risk prosecution for money laundering and numerous other offenses because the US government still considers marijuana an illegal controlled substance.

With over 50% of the United States population in support of a regulated retail cannabis system for adults it is time for our government and our society to address the legitimate needs of a flourishing industry that shows no signs of subsiding. The opportunity to develop a legally secure industry in which businesses can operate successfully and responsibly has already been presented, now it is in the hands of our federal government to follow through by backing legislation such as the “Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act – (HR 2652)”, a bill already endorsed by the Colorado Bankers Association, which would alter various banking laws in order to protect banks which provide services to cannabis-related businesses from the threat of federal prosecution and other criminal penalties.

Credible financial institutions are not known for operating off of non-binding memorandums and rather by explicit legal sanction. Only once the laws have been revised and CHANGED will the banks will be able to legally and securely provide the services which not only the cannabis industry, but the state/federal economies and our society can benefit from.

War on Drugs – Kaylee Bement

The War on Drugs has caused more problems than it has solved. The true basis on which it is built, much like other drug laws, is discrimination. It is not about how harmful the drugs are, but who is taking them. It started back in the 1870s where anti-opium laws were directed at Chinese immigrants, but today our laws are focused against Latino and black communities and the drugs that they are involved in. If the intentions of a law are to attack  a group of people rather than to protect and improve our nation, it is pretty clear that there will be failures. We have too many problems in this nation as a whole to be focusing on creating problems on the basis of discrimination.

The United States has the largest prison population on Earth (about 2.3 million). Over half a million of those in jail are there for drug law violation, and putting people in prison uses tax payer money. It takes an average of $30,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate, but only an average of $11,665 is spent per public school student. Rather than spending money to educate the future of our country, we are spending money on punishing people for doing drugs. The UN stated in 2005 that 90% of all illegal drug users in the world are not classified as problematic. If this is true, why do we have to spend so many resources on their imprisonment?

Similar to Prohibition, the War on Drugs has only increased drug usage and decreased respect for the law. The US is the number one country in the world for illegal drug use. If drugs were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, there would be a yield of $46.7 billion in tax revenue. In 2005, the UN estimated that the global illegal drug trade was worth more than $320 billion. Rather than spend money trying to prevent drug use (and only seeing drug use rise), we should take advantage of the situation and treat some of the drugs that are currently illegal like we treat alcohol or tobacco.

A common argument against legalizing and taxing drug use is their health effects. If our War on Drugs was actually based on health rather than discrimination, this would be a fair argument. However, there are drugs that are not nearly as harmful as alcohol that will send you to jail. In a study funded by Britain’s Centre for Crime ad Justice Studies, it was discovered that while crystal meth,  crack cocaine, and heroin were deadliest to individuals, alcohol replaced crystal meth on the list when it considered those involved with the drugs causing the death/harm of others. On this listing, alcohol scored way higher than all other drugs. After heroin and crack cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, and LSD scored significantly lower. Marijuana, for example, has not killed anyone, does not cause significant health problems (not even in the brain), is not as addictive as alcohol, does not encourage violent or aggressive behavior, and is not a major factor in crimes(of violence or sexual assault). However, we can’t ban alcohol (refer back to the Prohibition), it is too embedded in our culture. Why would it be illogical to allow something much safer?

Some drugs are seriously dangerous (meth, cocaine, heroin), and the laws against those drugs are necessary. However, the War on Drugs uses too many resources to be considered helpful, and puts a ban on things that are much less harmful than alcohol, which is a widely accepted drug. Ironically, the main focus of the War on Drugs is against marijuana; it has been proven many times that marijuana is practically harmless in comparison to alcohol. This does not matter; there are not less people using drugs, there are just more people breaking the law. History repeats itself, and this War seems much like the failed Prohibition of the 1920s.



Sean Daly (Edison): Legalization of Marijuana

I feel Marijuana should be legalized. It’s common knowledge that Marijuana has widespread use in this country.  These circumstances are somewhat similar to alcohol during prohibition: widespread use of an illegal substance.  We all know what happened during prohibition— organized crime controlled the distribution of alcohol, much the same as is happening with illegal substances today.

Is it fair to say that marijuana is the equivalent to alcohol? Although Marijuana may impair your judgment the effects aren’t nearly as severe as alcohol. Consuming too much alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning, while it is impossible to overdose on Marijuana.  Alcohol is harmful to your liver.   Though smoking marijuana is harmful to your lungs, there are alternative ways to consume marijuana: vaporizing.

Benefits to legalizing marijuana

1  Estimates of law enforcement savings are $8.7 billion 2  Estimates of tax revenues are $9 billion 3  Law enforcement could spend more time enforcing crimes that hurt society 4 Medicinal use will be legal in all 50 states 5 Consumption of alcohol could be reduced resulting in less drinking and driving accidents 6 Put a damper on illegal drug trade

Negatives to legalizing marijuana

1 Casual use of marijuana has been shown to cause brain abnormalities and loss of motivation in young adults (under age 25) 2 More young people will use marijuana possibly resulting in a less motivated society 3 Organized crime will turn to more serious drugs to generate income

Other thoughts:

Availability could make use more widespread which could conceivable be good or bad.  We live in a culture that accepts drinking alcohol as an acceptable form of social recreation and a “cool vibe” , particularly for middle aged adults and older.  Marijuana has this vibe for young adults, not that alcohol isn’t still the number one drug of choice for young adults.

Not everyone is happy all the time.  Sometimes people feel the need to escape.  It would probably be better if people would go for a run, or listen to music instead of having a few beers or smoking a joint.  But the reality is that they do, and maybe that helps them get through the day so they can face the next day and go to work, or be a good parent, or whatever it is that they do.  No matter what the substance or activity, there are always going to be people who over do it and abuse the intended purpose.

An underlying issue is the need people feel to  escape.  Is there a way that society could be constructed to eliminate the need people feel to escape?  Would that even be desirable? Maybe the need to escape is part of the human dynamic.   Would it be possible to build in opportunities to address this need?  Are people doing this already by trying to live healthier lives?

These are all questions that are relevant to understanding  the marijuana legalization context and the need people feel to make life more interesting.


Rendy Fernandez: Lee County Public School System Slowly Eliminating Dual Enrollment

Dual Enrollment is a program where high school students become Dual Enrolled into a nearby community college in order to earn both high school and college credit while simultaneously getting a better education (in most cases). As a dual enrolled student, I think this program is very beneficial especially for individuals that might have a problem affording higher education, because it gives them an opportunity to earn their AA while still in high school. Not only this, but it gives high school students a general feel of what some college classes are going to be like, in order to prepare them for their futures. Now it would be ridiculous to take away something that benefits students, right? After all, it is a benefit. Apparently, in the case, it’s not as obscure because the Lee County School District is most likely going to eliminate this program due to a “lack of funding.”

Maybe it is in fact due to a lack of funding, but I personally think that this “lack” is caused by a poor distribution. I feel the school district is not putting money into what is most important, education. I was given the news that Summer Dual Enrollment was no longer allowed just a few weeks ago, and it was also slightly hinted that there might be more limits on the classes Dual Enrolled students can take in the fall. As if that wasn’t already bad enough, the school I attend is also not allowing students to take summer online courses through FLVS for reasons that I am unaware of (even though an online class is a graduation requirement). Now this Dual Enrollment may not seem like a large problem, but an elimination of something that is a good experience for high school students is pretty ridiculous to me.

I’ve talked to my guidance counselor about this issue and I get the same answer every time “The district and state don’t have enough funding, so nobody can take classes.” In fact, something that has been suggested by some administrators is that if students wanted to take classes, we would need to pay for them ourselves, which is something that it outrageous to ask of high school students. Unfortunately, at this point, there really is nothing any of the students or schools can do, but hope that the state and/or district don’t eliminate this program entirely. Besides, the education system is already corrupt enough with the Common Core System not preparing students for college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT, why ruin it even more by getting rid of dual enrollment?

Aaron West: Global Warming

If you haven’t noticed, America is the only country that is still debating the issue of global warming. One reason is because the country is divided amongst two groups. The Democrats and the Republicans. It seems that if you are a democrat you believe in climate change, and if you’re a republican then you don’t; however, the bigger picture is, our planet earth is warming and what can be done about it.

Planet earth is warming at an alarming rate and our climate is changing fast. Sea levels are rising, the number of large wildfires is steadily growing, harmful heat waves are becoming more and more common, and droughts are occurring more often. These are just a few consequences of global warming and the harmful effects it is causing to our planet. Humans are without a doubt one of the underlying problems of global warming. This is because of human’s expansion of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide trap heat, helping the earth to warm. There has been a surge in carbon dioxide levels since the Industrial Revolution, which continues to rise despite the signals that earth is giving us. So, what can people do today to help solve these problems for our future generations?

 The best way each individual person that want to help solve these problems, should connect with Nature, and get together with other individuals that have the same passion you have for the earth; because power is in numbers. If people were to spend more time in nature they would have a better appreciation and understanding about nature and what nature has to offer. A simple activity such as each person planting a tree can one day help restore the deforestation process that is continuing to happen. Planting trees isn’t the only way to help make a change, you can protest the number of poor little trees that are being cut down, and help support the legalization of cannabis. The legalization of cannabis will eventually be used to replace the trees, which are being cut down for paper and other resources.

All in all, support the legalization of cannabis and help stop global warming; one love.

Lukas Neumann (Edison) Homelessness and society’s twisted view

America is plagued with the issue of the ill representation of the homeless population. Media makes the homeless out to be worthless and nothing more than a sort of leech on the people and on the government. This is not the case though. Do not be so easily fooled by the media. Many homeless persons actually work and have jobs,though they be odd jobs they are jobs none the less. Homeless persons sometimes even have families and even pets, and they will go out of their way to make sure that their child, or wife, or pet is fed before they are. Homeless people have not given up on life and society, life and society has given up and failed them.

In the american populations around 1.5 million people are homeless, based on the national alliance to end homelessness website. One part of research that is never seen is how the homeless population is actually broken down. It can be seen that this 1.5 million person population is actually split into three types, and this split is not even. There are homeless veterans, there are the people who had no other option but to be homeless, and there are those who chose to be homeless.

The news only covers homelessness when either the homeless become a nuisance, or when “an american hero” has no place to stay and is left on the street. When this happens media tries to spin this into either empathy for the veteran, or into anger and hatred or fear of this population. This is plain wrong.

Now there are many proposed  way of dealing with homelessness, making more jobs, government grants, etc. Though from what I have seen there has been a major overlooking of the fact that the homeless just need help. They need the stereotype that has been ingrained into our minds of what a homeless person is to be broken. The best idea to get the homeless population to significantly drop in numbers is not to criminalize them like many states are doing, but to support shelters, to help get better and more numbers of affordable housing. And to give them the ability to better themselves with the skills they have, not to make a fish and a monkey compete to climb a tree, for a lack of a better image. Ultimately showing that society has not forgotten about them and that they mean the same as a person making millions of dollars every second.


Wycliffe Grafton Jr. – A Divided Nation

Both the media and academic scholars have stated their views on how the United States government has split the country up into two separate forces, those who support the Democrats and those who support the Republicans.

One academic that came forth and recognized the issue of polarized politics was S. C. Stokes and the journal he wrote for the 1999 Annual Review of Political Science. In his journal entry, Stokes makes multiple references to E. E. Schattschneider’s view on politics and Schattschneider’s theory of politics which is that because political parties, democracy came about and so without political parties there would be no democracy and no America. Stokes does not fully agree with Schattschneider’s statement and throughout his journal he cites studies conducted by other political scientists, Linz & Stepan 1996, Vincent 1966, Cox 1987, and multiple of others. Using the research and studies conduct by other political scientists, Stokes demonstrated how the world changed and how political parties played a role in history of other countries besides the United States. In Stokes’ Journal, it can be seen how events occurring during a certain time period led to the formation of different parties especially in Europe; events like the Reformation, industrial revolution, and the construction of nation-states (Stokes, 271). Other studies conducted also showed how great of an impact religion had on the formation of certain parties. Throughout Stokes’ journal, he describes how a political party works and even gives equations on how parties make predictions on voters.

Even though Stokes does describe how political parties have been an asset to countries, he brings up points on how political parties are divided and that is why political parties are causing issues. Forms of how a party is divided are Overlapping Generations, Incumbent Hegemony, and Curvilinear Disparity (Stokes 253-256).  In the second to last section of his journal, Evaluating Models of Political Parties, Stokes presents a table of how each issue in a party would approach a question about the party. The table (Stokes, 259) shows how the issues/problems have different responses and could lead to disharmony in a political party. At the end of his journal Stokes’ states,”It is clear that parties are here to stay, an unavoidable part of democracy.” (Stokes, 263), showing that even those who have done their research and have evaluated other studies, see political parties as an issue and a problem for the United States of America. Stokes does not propose a solution to the problems occurring within political parties, but states at the end of his journal that to fully know whether or not political parties are a benefit or harm, more research has to be conducted (Stokes 264).

Another scholar that sees that issues with political parties are causing a problem the United States and its government is Professor Richard H. Pildes of New York University. Pildes voices his view of the problems with politics in an article he wrote for the Washington Post,” How to fix our polarized politics? Strengthen political parties.” He also has the same views of Stokes of how political parties and the polarization of those parties are going to stay. Pildes’ reason is history and how politicians were different sides on allowing African-Americans and poor whites to vote. Pildes also sees the main issue with political polarization to be the issues that a political party has within its own party. Pildes calls the issue “Political Fragmentation”, and it is basically that the power is being taken away from a party’s leadership and is being transferred to other members. Pildes uses Senators Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren as examples of “Political Fragmentation”. In the rest of his article, Pildes talks about how great the changes are to the political parties and how the fragmentation has made running a successful party more difficult. Pildes proposal is that the only way to fix polarized politics is to fix the internal issues within the parties and that is by using the law to give the party leaders the power again to control their parties and to stop party members from creating separate divisions of a party.

One media outlet adds more fuel to the flames of the polarized politics, and that is National Journal. The NJ (National Journal) has two articles that oppose each other on how Americans view each of the political parties. One article, “Opinion: Women, Minorities, and Millennials Will Determine America’s Next Civic Ethos”, uses a national survey conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates to show the shifts in political views of different demographics and how the Republican party trailing behind the Democratic party. The article aims to show that the main demographics of the Democratic Party, women, minorities, and Millennials, are expressing their views of how the government should be ran than the main demographics that support the Republican Party, men, whites, and seniors. The Magid survey shows that 55% of women, 59% of minorities, and 55% of Millennials, support government intervention, which is a big Democratic belief, while 50% of men, 50% of whites, and 48% of seniors support the Republican belief of limited government intervention. The article continues to use the data founded by the Magid survey to show how the demographics that mainly make up the Democratic Party, ally themselves with the belief of their party on foreign policy and economics. In contrast the Magid survey shows that the main demographics that make up the Republican Party are not agreeing with wait the party is deciding on foreign policy and economics. Overall the article makes it seem as though the Republican Party is beginning to fail and that the Democratic Party is doing better off.

After the article,” Opinion: Women, Minorities, and Millennials Will Determine America’s Next Civic Ethos” was published, another article was published 18 days later to contradict the views of the article; that article was, “Opinion: A Closer Look at America’s Problems, Solutions, and Political Parties”. The new article was blaming the first article and the Magid survey of being bias towards the Democratic Party. The second article, the new one, saw the first article as “part of the messaging war that the Democrats have been winning for years.” The article expresses how the messaging war has played into the persona that the Republican Party is worse than the Democratic Party and that the “extreme language” used in the first article “contributes to the polarization of our country and also misleads Americans.” Throughout the article, the author contradicts the Magid survey and what is stated in the first article. The article says that Republicans also see that it is important that the government is involved in American life and states that,” We even heard Romney say in the first debate that there should be some regulation and oversight.” The article is organized in the same fashion as the first one, minus the headers, and gives points and examples on how the first article was wrong and bias. The article is clearly trying to show a contrasting view to the first article and each of the points made in the first article.

In the end, both articles show how divided people are and will use any source available to them to defend their case. The first article clearly leaned more towards the Democratic Party and its views; while the second article leaned more towards the Republican Party and its view. The first article was more subtle in its approach to make Republicans look like an incompetent party that does not listen to its own members. The second article is straight forward and clearly blames the Democrats, and their control over messaging war, for giving Republicans a bad name and causing an even greater polarized government.

I am not bias and feel that both parties are at fault for all the troubles that are occurring in today’s politics. Through the research I conducted, I have learned possible problems that are occurring in politics and the reasons why it has been harder for both parties to come to an agreement. I have also seen how the political party system has created divisions between people. There has been research done by none bias associations and it is true that American is almost split right down the middle. Data and research from,, and shows that minorities, women, and Millennials due tend to lean towards being Democrats and whites, men, and seniors (the Silent Generation) tend to lean towards being Republican. It seems that even though there are members of each party trying to evolve the party so they could attract members of all demographics, there are still many in each party who want to keep the party the same. That’s a terrible problem because it will just widen the gap between both parties and will make it even more difficult for the parties to come to an agreement over important laws and bills that need to be passed to help the country develop. I propose that the people of the United States take a stand and make their voice be heard. We the people have the power to change our country and to push for a change in politics. We can all take a stand and make the politicians realize that their constant bickering is causing problems for us, the people, and that they have to realize that no party is more important than the people it is suppose to serve.


Rendy Fernandez: The Consequences of Labeling

Society has created many different labels, for many different reasons, and in actuality, these labels do more harm than good. Labels are everywhere, whether someone is labeled something in school, the workplace, or in the general public, and individual can carry a specific label wherever they go, which ends up having a large impact on his/her life. Although it is nearly impossible for our society to eliminate all the labels that have been created, I feel that as the general public, we should not let the labels placed on someone affect our judgment about a specific individual as much as they have today.

One of the labels that has the largest impact, in my opinion, is that of being labeled an ethnic minority of some sort. This puts these individuals at a disadvantage in the long run because they already see themselves as being the weaker ones, or the less intelligent, and will make them less motivated to try and have a very successful future. Based on many different sociological studies, it was proven that minorities tend to do worse in school because they cannot see their situation getting any better. Functionalists would state that it is mostly because these people are too lazy, or not smart enough or worthy of being successful, but I disagree, I feel that it is the label that makes them feel as if trying to get success is pointless.

Some might argue that labels can be positive, but they seem to forget about the consequences of these so called “positive” labels. For example, someone could be labeled as being intelligent, or seen as being very strong academically. This may seem to be something that is good for that individual, but personally, I feel that it just places more pressure on that individual to maintain that “image” in a social setting. Individuals that are classified as being smart would have to deal with the pressure of trying to stay smart in order to prevent being seen as deviant in society.

Although it may seem crazy to eliminate labeling, perhaps it is something that is necessary to reduce things like racism and peer pressure. However, there is not necessarily a perfect way to solve this problem, because even the socialists, like Marxists would place labels on the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, which would still have an impact on how certain individuals are judged in the context of their society. With more labels constantly being made in our society, I feel like there is no way to mend this ongoing dilemma, but the consequences should be accounted for, because after a while, the labels really start to take a toll on the individuals being labeled.

Underage Drinking – Kaylee Bement

Underage alcohol consumption is a serious problem, perhaps more serious than most consider. Alcohol is more commonly abused among youth than any other drug; 11% of alcohol in the United States is consumed by underage drinkers – and this is the reported statistic. Since underage drinking is illegal, there are probably those who lie in surveys about these issues, therefore I think it is safe to assume that the statistic is higher.

A survey taken in 2011 stated that 39% of high schoolers drank alcohol in the past month that the survey was taken; 22% binge drank and 8% drove after drinking. So not only were they illegally drinking, they decided to risk the lives of everyone on the road by driving under the influence. However, a majority of underage drinking takes place in a college setting, where people ages 18-20 are exposed to people ages 21+ on a regular basis. According to a 2005 survey done by Core Institute, the average male college freshman consumes 7.39 drinks per week, while the average female college freshman consumes 3.86. For males, that is more than one drink per day.

So far this post has only discussed the frequency of drinking with negative connotation. Underage drinkers may be thinking, “I only drink a few times a week for fun – what is the big deal?” Alcohol has many negative side effects – especially for young people. Underage drinking increases risk of unwanted/unprotected/unintended sexual behavior, causes hangovers and alcohol poisoning, causes alterations in brain development (which is still growing in your early twenties), causes reckless behavior, impairs judgment, increases risk of becoming an alcoholic when older, encourages abuse of other drugs, impairs memory, and decreases academic success. In the same college survey mentioned earlier, 31% of students missed a class due to substance abuse (recall that alcohol is the most commonly abused substance). Though many claim that alcohol has no influence on their sexuality, alcohol is involved of 90% of campus rapes, and 70% of college kids say they have had unplanned sex due to alcohol consumption.

In efforts to have a fun social life, many people under 21 drink alcohol, which could negatively affect their present and future. The negative effects caused by underage drinking are not worth the benefits of a “crazy night out” that probably won’t even be remembered. Young people need to be aware of the consequences of drinking before they partake in such a risky, illegal activity. Influenced by the pressures of media and the slightly older, legal people in their lives; teens are misinformed by the romanticized idea of alcohol consumption, which is unfair and unsafe.


“Consequences_of_Underage_Drinking.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. N.p., 2007. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

“SADD Statistics.” SADD Statistics. N.p., Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

“Fact Sheets – Underage Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.                      Burrell, Jackie.

“College Drinking Statistics.” Young Adults. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

Capital Punishment by Alexandra Konikow

There have been many cases of innocent people being put on death row and ultimately dying that way. Over 140 people have been released from death row in 26 states since 1973 due to them being innocent. This fact alone leads me to believe the death penalty should be a social problem that people need to be concerned about. Not only is the system unjust, it is very unfair and a waste of taxpayers’ money. This form of punishment has been proven to be considered the worst form of punishment when trying to deter crime. Being sentence to execution can also be determined by your wealth, skill of their attorney, and race. Along with it also being proven that the states with the death penalty have the highest murder rate.

California alone has spent over $4 billion on capital punishment since the reinstatement in 1978. With this being said, it is far more cost effective keeping someone in prison for life without parole along with the trials being shorter and less expensive. California now spends around $184 million a year on the death penalty. In Kansas, a death penalty trial costs about $400,000 per case while a case seeking a lesser punishment costs about $100,000 per case. It is costing Florida $51 million more to seek the death penalty than it would to seek life in prison. That’s about $24 million per execution since 1976. These statistics show just a few examples of how costly the death penalty can really be.

Race plays a major role in whether someone is going to be sentenced to death. In 1990 a report from the General Accounting Office concluded that “in 82 percent of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e. those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks.” Not only does the race of the defendant matter but also the race of the victim. In Louisiana, someone who’s victim was white was 97% more likely to receive the death penalty than those whose victim was black.