A Florida drug dealer called local police to report that a bag with her weed had been stolen, but residents of Charlotte County are both outraged and perplexed that she managed to walk away scot-free.
Mariah Massad called 911 to report that a man had dragged her across pavement in a parking lot before stealing her bag and its contents. She said in the call that the bag “had all my money ($840 in cash) and a little bit of weed…we were gonna smoke but not that much.” But deputies later found Facebook chats with 17-year-old Antonio Kleiss which showed that she was going to sell him 10 grams of marijuana.
Kleiss was arrested and charged with felony grand theft of a controlled substance and felony robbery, but Massad was not been charged with a crime. "It sucks for her to get robbed but if you're dealing in an illegal activity, it kind of comes with the territory,” said witness Sasha Johnston. “For her to get off scot-free, I don't think that's right. I think they should both go to jail for the illegal activity.”
Deputies also confirmed that there is extremely limited physical evidence linking Kleiss to the stolen items that Massad reported. “No bag, no drugs, no money. Nothing,” said his grandmother, Mary. “A drug dealer can just call the police and tell them [they] were robbed. He’s made mistakes…but this whole thing is ludicrous.”
When Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational purposes in 2012, the move was expected to be a financial and legal windfall for the state. Sales and excise taxes levied on pot were expected by some observers to bring in as much as $98 million in revenue, while also reducing the need for users to frequent the black market.
But in the months that followed the opening of the first retail cannabis stores on January 1, 2014, the Colorado Department of Revenue has collected $25,307,067 in taxes. While the figure is considerable, and modest gains have been posted in certain months, the tax income so far is off the mark from the projected figures.
Several reasons have been cited for the dramatic difference between the expected tax income and the actual amount. The most significant cause is the cost of legal marijuana, which is markedly higher than the price on the black market. Colorado imposed a 15% excise tax on wholesale marijuana and a 10% sales tax on retail sales. As a result, buyers in the Rocky Mountain State were faced with shelling out for pot with a higher price tag than weed bought through less than legal means.
According to the Marijuana Policy Group, just 60% of marijuana users are purchasing through state-approved facilities. Additional tax loss is expected to be incurred by those buyers purchasing pot from medical marijuana patients and then reselling it at higher prices, or by Colorado residents who grow the six plants allowed by the state for personal use.
The cost of legal weed has also spurred buyers to seek out medical marijuana cards, which cost just $15 and grant access to marijuana taxed at 2.9%. Currently, about two percent of the state’s population has a medical card, but the numbers are apparently growing, according to state economists.
Lawmakers are currently examining the tax structure in place for marijuana sales, but as state Representative Dan Pabon noted, “It’s too early to be worried” about whether or not the pot initiative will prove to be as big a payday as those early projections expected.
The former CEO of a major bitcoin exchange has pleaded guilty along with one of his customers to enabling drug deals on the online drug portal Silk Road.
Charlie Shrem, the former CEO of BitInstant, and bitcoin seller Robert Faiella, were arrested earlier this year and charged with exchanging over $1 million in bitcoins that they both knew would be used to buy illicit drugs and paraphernalia on Silk Road. Faiella, 54, reportedly obtained bitcoins through Shrem’s site and then sold them at a profit to users on Silk Road.
To make matters worse, Shrem, 24, also served as the compliance officer for BitInstant and was therefore responsible for ensuring that his company followed the law. Authorities claimed that Shrem personally processed Faiella’s orders and even gave him a discount on high-volume trades.
Their business relationship didn’t start off on the best of terms. Shrem had banned Faiella from using BitInstant after becoming aware that he was reselling bitcoins on Silk Road and also threatened to report him for operating an unlicensed money exchange. Faiella responded by threatening to contact federal authorities to report BitInstant.
Faillea pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Shrem’s business, while Shrem pleaded guilty to one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Both men will be sentenced in January and could receive a maximum sentence of five years each. BitInstant closed in July 2013, two months before federal authorities shut down Silk Road.
Last May, a prolific Silk Road drug dealer pleaded guilty to selling more drugs than anyone on the site. Dutch native Cornelis Jan Slomp, 23, admitted to shipping 566,000 ecstasy pills, 104 kilos of MDMA, and four kilos of cocaine, among other drugs. He could have faced 40 years behind bars, but prosecutors are recommending a 15-year sentence due to his cooperation with authorities.
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One aspect of depression that is often overlooked is its impact on learning and memory. Memory problems and difficulty absorbing and retaining information can have a “much greater impact” on an individual than is commonly understood, according to Dr. Jim Bolton, a consultant psychiatrist and member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
“You may be able unable to take in information from a work meeting, manage your finances, or even learn from your mistakes,” Bolton said.
A new antidepressant called vortioxetine, also known by its trade name Brintellix, has been proven to have cognitive enhancing effects on rats, and preliminary trials show it provides similar benefits for people suffering from depression.
The rats were treated with chemicals that “deplete other certain chemicals in their brain that impair their memory,” Dr. Andrew Jones, medical director of Lunbeck, a company involved in developing the drug, explained. “What we found is that vortioxetine reverses the deficit we created.”
“Depression interferes with our ability to learn and remember information for many, many reasons,” Bolton said. “If a patient is preoccupied with how low they’re feeling—and with any worries they may have—it’s more difficult to focus. If you can’t focus, then it’s much more difficult to learn.”
The drug, which is already available in the United States, does not elevate brain functioning above the norm, but “returns functioning to the state it would be at in a person without depression,” Jones said.
As a person’s concentration, motivation, and interest in life improve after recovering from a bout of depression, their memory and ability to learn usually also improve, Bolton explained. Vortioxetine’s ability to improve cognitive functioning is a significant advantage over other antidepressant medications. The effect that depression has on learning and memory is very complex.
“The systems in the brain that could cause depression and those that are involved in cognition and memory are all interrelated, and those interrelations are very complex,” Jones said. “A relative lack of serotonin is likely to be a factor in cognitive problems, but this could be because it has an indirect effect on other brain chemicals known to be involved in learning and memory, such as gamma-Aminobutyric acid and glutamate.”
Bolton said the next step is to carry out more tests and encourages other researchers to independently study vortioxetine as the current data has been made available in the public domain.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group released a video last Tuesday in which they destroyed a field of marijuana in Syria. The clip, which was uploaded to YouTube by an ISIS supporter, showed ISIS fighters denouncing the evils of drug-taking before setting a large pile of marijuana plants ablaze.
The militants claimed they discovered the marijuana farm after having captured Akhtarin from the Free Syrian Army, a rival group of opposition fighters in Syria. They alleged further that the owner of the farm fled to Turkey.
Some farmers in north Syria have resorted to growing marijuana to make a living in the midst of Syria’s devastating civil war, but the farmers faced opposition and physical threat from radical Islamists such as ISIS, who consider drugs to be against the laws of Islam.
ISIS is also known to have banned cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs in areas under its control throughout Iraq and Syria, in adherence to their strict interpretation of Islamic law.
The United Nations has accused the group of committing crimes against humanity for carrying out public executions, crucifixions, systematic abuse and torture of civilians, and training child fighters.