Canine Quandary


Now that possessing up to an ounce of marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington state; state law enforcement is scrambling to solve the problem of drug sniffing dogs. Washington in particular has a border to deal with – one that  has spent decades formulating plans to keep out the notorious “B.C. bud”. Pot isn’t legal in B.C. but you wouldn’t know that by visiting Vancouver, dubbed “Vansterdam” – numerous “pot cafes” allow patrons to bring their own marijuana and openly consume it.

So what to do with all the drug sniffing dogs? To begin with, how do you train a dog to differentiate between quantities of pot? On the Washington side of the border; a search undertaken as a result of an alert by a canine detective could possibly turn up unexpected contraband – perhaps illegal weapons were found but the amount of marijuana setting the play in motion was less than an ounce – strictly speaking, a judge could toss that evidence out of court as an “illegal search and seizure”.

Logically,  Washington state is training new dogs, ones not taught to recognize pot. Fair enough, but isn’t the whole marijuana question wearing thin? Up to an ounce is now legal in Washington and Colorado if you’re 21. In Vancouver where pot isn’t even legalized – pot cafes are allowed to operate without question as long as they don’t sell marijuana. Anyone can get a medical marijuana ticket, dispensaries as prevalent as drug stores.

Glaucoma, MS. Parkinsons, insomnia, chronic pain, seizures  – the list of ailments doctors can “prescribe” Cannabis for is longer than my arm. Governments allow sale and possession for medical reasons yet won’t allow you to grow a few plants at home. Criminal records tarnish lives for eternity, gangs shot each other over turf, prisons fill up with people caught with a “little too much” and organized crime reaps the benefits.

There are much bigger fish to fry – why not legalize marijuana, put people to work growing it, sell it as you would cigarettes, collect taxes and only go after those who think they can make a living outside these parameters. What’s the big deal? There are a lot of confused dogs without jobs who think it’s just as silly.

4/20 at the Vancouver Art Gallery (origin of 4/20 is a little clouded but at exactly 4:20 on April 20 of each year Cannabis enthusiasts light up) No – there isn’t a house on fire – simply a collective exhale.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/20/420-weed-day-marijuana-april-holiday_n_3122359.html

What Are We Afraid Of?


As a little girl I remember chanting “eeny meeny miney mo, catch a n****r by the toe”, it was the early sixties, I was 3 or 4 and hadn’t the slightest concept of what it meant. Somewhere along the way the “N” word became “Tiger” – I can’t recall an explanation, all I knew was we had to decide whose turn it was to go first, so tiger it was. There wasn’t a hateful bone in my body; my family – decent hard working people who never spoke ill of anyone. It wasn’t the deep south, this was rural Canada  in 1963 – parents passing along rhymes  they learned as children – nary a thought to meaning.

I believe that “Tiger” was Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty years ago today, close to a quarter of a million people marched on Washington, D.C. Gathered at the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King spoke for nearly 20 minutes, delivering his iconic I Have a Dream speech. Powerful, articulate, compelling – I can’t think of words that do justice to this moment in history.

MLK was a proud American; a man who asked only that people uphold the American constitution, the promise of emancipation, the pursuit of life, liberty and freedom for all citizens. He calls for tolerance, understanding, and peace. He asks that the black community forgive white America and proceed in a spirit of understanding. If you do nothing else today – take 5 minutes out of your life –  click below and listen to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFcbpGK9_aw

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Listen then ask yourself what it is you’re afraid of. Ask yourself what good it does to sabotage every move the Obama administration makes. Ask yourself if a “tiger” is just as capable of settling things as any other animal you could name. Ask yourself why you’re filled with contempt, ask yourself to snap out of the past and think for yourselves. Stop being afraid and ask yourself if America is worth fighting for. One of the greatest Americans in history answered that question 50 years ago today – to think his life was in vain breaks my heart.

Pondering Wages


I`ve been so busy blowing off steam on American gun laws and crime, a blinding truth eluded me. Something so basic, it escaped consideration until tonight. Forgive me if the nuances of my point are a little rough – I`m pondering as I type. While exchanging comments with wordpresser Behind The Booze, I innocently discovered the minimum wage for employees receiving tips is $2.13 an hour. Scraping my jaw off the floor I asked if she were yanking my chain. Her assurance convinced me to do a little research. Looking back I should have picked up on this sooner; my son has an American friend who told me in the state of Washington overtime is only paid after working more than 40 hours in a week.  Her employer can legally schedule her for 3 – 12 hour shifts a week without paying a dime in overtime. That in itself was shocking; I should have realized sooner the problem ran much deeper.

Taking a crash course in American labour law is tricky. As of 2009 the federal minimum wage was set at 7.25 an hour. But wait; did I mention exemptions. Employees who receive tips have a minimum set at 2.13, theoretically they keep their tips and if they average less than the federal minimum after wage and tips combine – the employer is supposed to top it up to meet the federal standard of 7.25. The wage for `tipped`employees varies from state to state, $2.13 is the lowest. Not as low as farm workers who only earn $1.60 an hour depending on the state. It gets better! Employers not conducting interstate business, whose income is less than 500,000 a year are exempt from paying minimum wage. As are seasonal and migrant employees, students, and certain disabled persons. Holy crap! These waters are far to muddy to wade through in one sitting – my feet are barely wet, yet I`m having trouble wrapping my head around what little I know. There are state laws, federal laws, exemptions, and exclusions – a lot to sort out.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_in_the_United_States

Well over 30 years ago I visited San Francisco for the first time. An incredibly beautiful and vibrant city, yet for the first time in my life something struck me as odd. My sub-conscious tried to make sense of it – it wasn`t seeing homeless women and families for the first time, though that was certainly a piece of the puzzle. The ah-ha moment came when it dawned on me – San Francisco was a city of the very rich and extremely poor – no middle class in sight.

Over the years since, and many American cities visited; I`ve laid eyes on the same situation, over and over again. On one of our marathon road trips we found ourselves off the main road in east St. Louis. Not an area of `projects`, but a once thriving residential neighbourhood. Neglected infrastructure – pot holes large enough to swallow a car, street lights dark, abandoned businesses, families crowding dark porches of decrepit houses to escape the stifling heat, and most surprising – an abandoned hospital; squatters had taken up residence, with bed sheets covering broken windows.

Getting back to the ponder sparked by Behind the Booze….

http://behindthebooze.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/stupid-questions-why-is-beth-so-mean/

My full on assault against the American mindset on guns and violence neglected to consider the minimum wage and convoluted labour laws. The average American has every right to be terrified of criminals – knowing this is a broad generalization, but grasping for a moment why crime might be more appealing than minimum wage – I`m thinking the lack of incentive to work, could account for oppressive crime rates.

Life is a crap shoot. Born of the wrong colour, wrong side of the tracks, or handicapped mentally or physically – odds are stacked against you. Sure, people rise above, but ponder options the majority are offered. Who can live on a minimum federal wage of $7.25 an hour. Convoluted exemptions, state vs. federal laws, and loop holes favouring business – no wonder crime looks more attractive.

My warm, fuzzy, mildly socialist Canadian view makes it difficult to comprehend unacceptable minimum wage. My part time bartenders make $16.00 an hour to start. In British Columbia the legislated minimum wage is $10.25, no ands, ifs, buts, or maybes. Time and a half is paid after 8 hours work, double time after 12,  any time a worker has less than 8 hours between shifts, or with less than 36 continuous hours free from work in a week. Even without benefits – those employed as part time or seasonal – universal, not for profit medical care treats every citizen equally.

I doubt I`ll ever be able to reconcile the legality of semi-automatic weapons, yet received a glimmer of understanding why crime is such a problem in America. Unskilled jobs in America are incapable of supporting a family, let alone any individual trying to get ahead. Our world has become unbalanced – I suggest we stop blaming violent video games, or perish the thought – working families or the lack of `God`,  and start taking a long hard look at what incentive there is for those dealt a lousy hand to get a job.

Before anyone jumps down my throat – I`m not painting everybody with the same brush by suggesting crime is the path of least resistance.  That said, pondering wages certainly expands my understanding of American problems.

minimum wage

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-united-states-is-very-different-from-its-neighbors-when-it-come-to-minimum-wage-2013-2