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Atlanta unanimously votes to decriminalize marijuana

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Early Monday morning, city leaders in Atlanta voted to decriminalize marijuana. The legislation will reduce possession of marijuana in amounts less than one ounce to a $75 fine and no jail time. In the past, it was punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

The vote to decriminalize passed unanimously, 15-0. In September, Councilman Kwanza Hall stated the following,

“Ninety-two percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession of less than an ounce and who are in our jail are African American, and that is wrong. We should be ashamed of ourselves, and we have to change this law immediately”

It was also stated that families are being torn apart and lives were being ruined by the criminal penalties associated with possession. Individuals would lose scholarships or be barred from certain employment opportunities due to the criminal charge.

The Atlanta city council is planning a series of criminal justice reform policies (PDF of specific proposals available at bottom of page). Decriminalizing marijuana is just one piece of that puzzle.

Perspectives

Atlanta City Council lessens pot possession law in 15-0 vote

http://www.myajc.com/news/local-govt--politics/atlanta-city-council-cuts-penalties-jail-time-for-some-pot-possession/6bAkPrLv0GqO2Am41t5JDN/The legislation, which was resurrected in September after spending months in committees because of concerns it might send the wrong message, brings Atlanta closer to other large cities across the nation that are either lessening penalties on pot or decriminalizing it altogether as Americans’ opinions on the drug evolve.

It will reduce the financial penalty for possession of one ounce or less from up to $1,000 to a maximum of $75. Jail time, currently six months for possession, would be eliminated for an ounce or less.

City leaders vote unanimously to pass marijuana proposal in Atlanta – CBS46 News

http://www.cbs46.com/story/36497529/vote-on-controversial-marijuana-proposal-in-atlanta-set-for-mondayCity councilman Kwanza Hall introduced the measure back in March. It calls for reducing the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a $75 fine and no jail time. That’s a dramatic drop from the penalty currently in place under state law which calls for up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

“In Atlanta and in Fulton County, 92 percent of the arrests for small amounts of marijuana are the arrests of African-Americans, that is the most biased rate of arrests in the country,” councilman Hall told CBS46 News in September. “It’s not easy to convince a majority of 8 to 10 people and ideally a majority to agree to do something.”

Marijuana Decriminalization & Its Impact on Use – NORML.org – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

http://norml.org/aboutmarijuana/item/marijuana-decriminalization-its-impact-on-use-2“The available evidence indicates that the decriminalization of marijuana possession had little or no impact on rates of use. Although rates of marijuana use increased in those U.S. states [that] reduced maximum penalties for possession to a fine, the prevalence of use increased at similar or higher rates in those states [that] retained more severe penalties. There were also no discernible impacts on the health care systems. On the other hand, the so-called ‘decriminalization’ measures did result in substantial savings in the criminal justice system.”

Dose of Reality: The Effect of State Marijuana Legalizations | Cato Institute

https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/dose-reality-effect-state-marijuana-legalizationsOur conclusion is that state-level marijuana legalizations to date have been associated with, at most, modest changes in marijuana use and related outcomes. Our estimates cannot rule out small changes, and related literature finds some effects from earlier marijuana policy changes such as medicalization. But the strong claims about legalization made by both opponents and supporters are not apparent in the data. The absence of significant adverse consequences is especially striking given the sometimes dire predictions made by legalization opponents.

 

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Final Thoughts

The reactions I’ve seen to this have been largely positive. As someone who believes that the individual should be in charge of their decisions, I am not entirely against the measure. That being said, I question whether this measure and others around the nation are taken with prudence in mind or if the communities will regret the decision down the road.

[NB: As a Georgia resident, I asked my lawyer “isn’t that against [Georgia] state law?” – he answered “Maybe.” So apparently a city could do this. But it would open a challenge. –Editor]

Jake Gambino has endless passion for liberty, marketing, and good lulz. After just seven years, he received his business degree from a local Community College. He would call this a sign of being a prodigy. No one else would agree, but Jake doesn't care. He is guided by reason and driven by principles.

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Guns and Crime

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Yehuda Remer, Author and Second Amendment Advocate

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Yesterday, I spoke with Second Amendment advocate and author, as well as my good friend, Yehuda Remer. We discussed his conservatism, how he developed a love of guns and how he turned that into a career, and how he got into writing.

Below is a transcript of our exchange:
JF: Let’s begin. Tell us about your background. Growing up in blue LA, how did you become conservative?

YR: So I grew up in an apolitical home where politics were not mentioned. As an Orthodox Jew, I always figured I was a Democrat because hell, aren’t all Jews? In 2007 while Obama was campaigning for his first term as President, I was driving to work one morning and listening to the local FM DJs. They were talking about some highly inappropriate things and as I sat there listening, I swear I felt the brain cells exploding one by one in my head. I truly felt myself getting stupider by the Second. I decided to turn on AM radio and over the next year, I found myself nodding in agreement with the many common sense things they had to say. Before long I realized not only was I not a Democrat, but I wasn’t even a Republican. I was a full on Conservative, almost Tea Party like. Following that epiphany, I started blowing up Ben Shapiro’s phone because we grew up together and he was my go-to guy. He explained all my questions not in preaching way but in a way that allowed me to make up my own mind based on what he said. I guess you can call me a Ben Shapiro “disciple.”

JF: That’s awesome. What made the Second Amendment and guns your passion?

YR: During my road into politics, I started learning about the Constitution. Because I grew up in an apolitical home, I didn’t care about the country and took it for granted. But after learning about the Constitution, the one that stuck out was the Second Amendment. It made sense to me. Up until that point, I thought the only people allowed to have guns were law enforcement, military, and bad guys. I never realized that a citizen of the United States could own and carry a firearm. My mind was blown. A buddy of mine called me and invited me to the gun range. Let’s just say, the rest is history.

JF: How did you learn everything you need to know?

YR: Most of it I was born with. I’m just a natural. The rest, well, that was with hard work. Like I mentioned before, I would ask Ben to explain tons of things to me. As for my firearms knowledge, the Internet is a wondrous place and so are many people in the Second Amendment world. Any questions I would ask or have, people didn’t hesitate in explaining things to me. Many times I would explain to people that I am a novice. I want to understand. When you approach someone looking to learn, you would be surprised how forthcoming people can be. I constantly am reading about different approaches in the world to get a more full circle understanding. Another thing, especially in the firearms industry, there is no such thing as a stupid question, unlike in other places.

JF: Why do you think the Second Amendment is important? Obviously, as a conservative, we know the answers to this, but would love to hear from your perspective.

YR: I mean, the Second Amendment is the one that protects them all. Without it, we would not be able to keep and protect the freedoms we all hold dear. We would end up like another England, and we all know how well that worked out for them 250 years ago.

JF: How did you turn this passion from a hobby to a career in writing and media?

YR: Well, Ben Shapiro gave me my first real break when I began writing for his old site, Truth Revolt. I started helping him with the back end but that turned to a full-time writing gig. From there, I transitioned into children’s books. I needed a way to educate my children on gun safety and was shocked to find out that there were no books geared towards kids about firearms safety. You have some organizations out there and they do a fine job. But I wanted something where I can climb into my kids’ beds with them and read them a book before they went to bed. After tons of research and finding nothing, I decided to write my first book, Safety On, as a tool to teach my kids about gun safety.

JF: How did you break out into public media, appearing on NRATV many times, getting media credentials to the SHOT show and being interviewed on major gun radio shows?

YR: Wow! Great question. A few months after my first book came out, I applied for a media badge as an author to the NRA Convention in Atlanta. I was shocked that I actually got it. But it paid off. I went there, not knowing anyone and planned on walking around in circles, just handing my book out. Two huge things happened. The first was I literally bumped in Cam Edwards of NRATV and the host of Cam & Co. As a huge fan, I found myself tongue-tied and feeling like a 14-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Luckily, I quickly snapped out of my daze and offered Cam a signed copy of my book. He took one look at it and told me to wait right there, he is putting me on TV. That was my first appearance on NRATV. Since then, Cam has had me on many more times and even helped me get on some other shows. He has been a blessing. But at one point while I was there, I went to the media room to take a break. Someone walked up to me and asked me if I was the guy who wrote the kids book on gun safety. To this day, Rob Morse of the Polite Society Podcast and I are still friends. Being on that show opened up so many doors for me into the Second Amendment radio world. It truly was a blessing.

As for SHOT Show, one of the connections I made was to the Firearms Chat Podcast and they invited me to be a co-host of their show at SHOT. So getting in was super easy.

JF: When you moved to Texas, did that help you bring this passion out more, considering that Texas is much more gun friendly?

YR: Of course it did. Within six weeks of moving to Texas, I had my license to carry. Life became instantly safer and better.

JF: Your work on this is an inspiration and the Second Amendment and gun rights are something we all need to hold dear. Thanks for being a voice for that.

Where can everyone find your work and appearances, and if they want to follow you?

YR: So all four of my books are available on Amazon. If you want to find out more about me and my appearances I have made, you can visit my website, www.yehudaremer.com.


Yehuda Remer is the author of Safety On: An introduction to the world of firearms for kids, Safety On: The Coloring Book, 10 Little Liberals: A Tale of Hope, and The ABCs of Guns. He lives in Texas with his wife and kids and can be found shooting, writing, and trolling.

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Trump’s top pastor, Mark Burns, running for Congress

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Trey Gowdy is retiring after his term creating a rather large vacancy for Republicans in Congress. Looking to fill the void is Pastor Mark Burns.

Pastor Mark Burns has been lauded as Trump’s top pastor and was rather influential in the 2016 election. His influence landed him or was made clear in the 2016 Republican National Convention where he gave a passionate “All Lives Matter” speech. Mark Burns is the founder and CEO of NOW Television Network. After serving six years in the South Carolina Army National Guard, Pastor Burns along with his wife Tomarra Burns founded the multicultural, non-denominational contemporary church The Harvest Praise & Worship Center of Easley.

Though somewhat new to the political scene, Mark Burns is not without scandal. During the Trump campaign, he was busted for and admitted to padding up his resume with false accomplishments. These remain credibility concerns moving into the race for the South Carolina 4th district. Burns made his announcement via Twitter, highlighting his unifying personality.

 

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My Take

Considering this race, “Burns”. That being said, he could have a Roy Moore sized scandal level his campaign. But without such, it seems as though this race is over before it began. I remain optimistic about Mark Burns joining the ranks of Congress. Previously, Burns announced he was praying about challenging Lindsey Graham, a notorious warmongering RINO. But it appears either prayer or opportunism has landed him in a different race. Due to his political amateurism, not many of his positions are clear. Oddly enough, he has suggested Federal takeover of public school security. Though his heart seems in the right place, his position shows a lack of localism which small government believes in. It’s safe to speculate that Mark Burns isn’t all that fiscal conservative which isn’t unfamiliar.

On social issues, however, Pastor Mark Burns could be a strong tool for conservatives, so long as he can graduate from being a Trump surrogate. Burns has a more unifying persona than a lot of Republicans adding the possibility of broadening the base. On the issues of race and abortion, Pastor Mark Burns is a powerful voice. Though a strong personality does not make one the best candidate, Burn has tremendous potential to make a difference in DC.

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Deep South Conservatism: An Interview with Hunter Hill

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In modern times the focus in the world of American politics is so often on Washington D.C. Our system of government was designed to give the federal government powers that were limited and narrowly defined. The most important governing is done at the state level.

In my home state of Texas, we have an excellent conservative Governor, Greg Abbot. I got to speak with an exciting new conservative leader on the cusp of being another great governor. Hunter Hill, an Army combat veteran, businessman, and state senator, convinced me he has what it takes to make the great state of Georgia a shining beacon of limited government, where free market principles and liberty reign, and the desires government operatives become irrelevant in the face of the needs and desires of the people.

I’m willing to bet he can convince the fine people of Georgia as well.

BW: What experience and education do you feel you bring to the table that makes you qualified to be Governor of Georgia?

HH: Well I’m a West Point graduate and former Army Infantry Officer, having been through Infantry Officer Basic and Ranger School. I have five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I then took on the business world and have been successful in real estate and entrepreneur coaching, and teach others to be successful at them as well. I’ve spent the last five years as a state senator. All of this I believe gives me a great breadth of leadership experience. That, combined with a rock solid conservative philosophy will allow me to lead Georgia in implementing a conservative governing agenda.

BW: What unique challenges or issues do you feel Georgia faces that is perhaps not faced by other states?

HH: Well it’s not that Georgia’s issues are any different than any other state: transportation, education, healthcare. These are things that face any state. What is different is how we are going to approach these issues. Instead of having government-centric solutions we’re going to create an environment that will allow the free market to create the best of everything for all the citizens of Georgia.

BW: If elected what would be your legislative priorities?

HH: First we need to work on budget reform and public safety. Then I plan to work to eliminate the state income tax. Georgia has one of the highest state income taxes. I also want to reform our education system using free market competition where the money we invest would follow the child wherever he or she goes to school.

BW: I can tell you as a native Floridian and a transplanted Texan that’s elimination of the state income tax will encourage business to move to Georgia.

HH: Well exactly, and we’re such an ideally located state in so many ways it’s an important roadblock for business to eliminate.

BW: What national issues do you think you can and should influence as Governor of Georgia?

HH: Well quite a few actually. I think the states can set the example for Washington on how to govern responsibly when it comes to issues such as budgets and taxation and more limited government.

Healthcare is another big issue. While much of the money comes from the federal government. Medicaid is administered by the states and we have got to do better. Medicaid patients are the most expensive and the least healthy.

I also think it’s important to support President Trump’s immigration plans and empower state and local law enforcement to work with federal authorities on enforcing immigration law.

BW: Turning to politics for a moment, what challenges do you face in your campaign and how do you plan to overcome them?

HH: I’ve never run for statewide office so I don’t have the name recognition that the state’s lieutenant governor has. That being said, our message is resonating with Republican voters. We’ve won nearly every straw poll from conservative groups in Georgia and we’re second in the polls.

BW: What do you want to tell the voters of Georgia?

HH: I truly believe we can’t reach our full potential, and in fact, I can foresee us sliding backward if we don’t elect real conservative leadership. Islamic terrorism will never bring us down. Ben you and I have both been over there and we know they will never defeat us because we are strong and they are weak. What will hurt us are liberal policies from career politicians that undermine our constitution.


You can learn more about Hunter Hill here.

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