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Depressed about Brexit? Outsiders is the comedy that makes you want to stay in | Anne Henry

The sitcom about a multicultural London flatshare was produced before the Brexit vote – but has ended up becoming an ideal response to it

Brexit, to paraphrase James Joyce, is a nightmare from which many of us are still trying to awake. While young people overwhelmingly voted remain, they woke up to find themselves in Brexit Britain. Racist incidents are on the up, the pound’s gone down, and everyone in charge appears to be, to put it mildly, behaving like a photographic negative of Rudyard Kipling’s If. And it became clear to me that we’ve become an international laughing stock when David Simon, creator of The Wire, approvingly tweeted of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson’s machinations: “Shit is West Baltimore, but with Pimm’s, tweed and crustless cucumber sandwiches. F’real, Brits are just gangster.” Laugh it up, Chuckles. You’ll be sorry when Trump gets his hands on the nuclear codes (though with any luck his tiny fingers won’t be able to press the buttons).

On to this turbid ocean of tears comes the launch of Outsiders, a pilot sitcom I helped make as part of Comedy Blaps, Channel 4’s scheme for new comedy talent. The show was originally conceived as an improvised flatshare comedy, cast with up-and-coming stand-up comedians rather than actors, all from foreign shores: last year’s Edinburgh best newcomer winner Sofie Hagen from Denmark, Mae Martin from Canada, Pierre Novellie from South Africa by way of the Isle of Man, Yasmine Akram from Ireland and Jamali Maddix from, er, Dagenham. (You can catch them doing their stand-up thing this month at the Edinburgh fringe.)

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Study says long-term pot use causes poor gum health – but not much else

Long-term recreational cannabis users in new study had increased risk for tooth loosening and loss but not other health problems across a dozen measures

Long-term cannabis use is associated with few physical health problems in early midlife, according to new research published on Wednesday.

Researchers found that that the long-term recreational cannabis users studied suffered poor gum health but found no other physical health problems across a dozen measures. The study, published on Wednesday by JAMA Psychiatry, followed more than 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 38, tracking study participants’ self-reported cannabis use from age 18.

Related: Marijuana use and abuse rates decline among US teens

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Counties That Ban Marijuana Are Missing Out on Crazy Profits

Given the frequent headlines boasting marijuana’s huge tax revenue ($35 million of which specifically allotted for Colorado schools), it should come as a surprise when principals start outlining the massive budget cuts many schools are about to undergo across the state.

Class sizes are also projected to increase in the area as more people move to Colorado, but staff and building infrastructure are not able to expand to accommodate the increased number of students due to a drop in school funding for non-420-friendly counties.

In fact, Colorado and Washington State have both witnessed a drop in teacher salaries throughout the states despite the increased funding brought in by marijuana sales. The results: larger class sizes, fewer resources and less opportunity for expansion in areas that have banned marijuana sales.

Those cities and counties that choose to opt out of this booming industry are missing out on monies to help fund school budgets — but for understandable reasons. Having said this, the numbers don’t lie and for many, the ban means that there may be a lot of catching up to do.

Counties That Ban Marijuana Businesses Are Missing Out on Big-Time Profits

For many, marijuana legalization seemed like an easy way out of a massive, state-owned debt, but even after generating more than $200 million in marijuana tax revenue combined, Colorado and Washington still have a long way to go to fix their lop-sided budget – and counties that have banned cannabis businesses have even farther to go.

When Amendment 64 passed, many Colorado cities and counties chose to “opt out” of allowing cannabis business licenses within the area. According to the Denver Post, of more than 200 cities tracked by the Colorado Municipal League, only 53 initially approved marijuana business licenses within their boundaries – 165 did not. Washington also allowed cities to decide whether or not to allow marijuana sales with about one-quarter of its cities opposing industry operations. Likewise, 106 Oregon cities have opted out of cannabis sales. These locations do not receive marijuana taxes because they do not sell marijuana.

Reasons for opting out of marijuana sales are pretty consistent across locations; communities fear a rise in crime and a conflicting message for youth. They do not wish to associate with such a seemingly deviant act and oppose the message it conveys to youth that drug use is okay. But many of these locations are starting to change their tune after witnessing a massive influx of cash without getting any in return.

Too Little, Too Late?

While it’s understandable to be apprehensive about such a major shift in public marijuana perception and use, the data so far indicates a huge reward for locations that have legalized it. In addition to the economic boost marijuana taxes are providing, counties with legal marijuana regulations in place are witnessing an uptick in tourism, a rise in real estate and major job growth, as well. In an effort to get in on the action, some counties are reevaluating their anti-pot stance.

Just a few weeks ago, Englewood decided to readdress their pot ban after 18-year-old, Sophia Vamvakias published an editorial in her high school newspaper outlining the need for change.  As Vamvakias explained to the Denver Post, the city has been losing out on valuable revenue which could be used to expand their school and buy supplies for classrooms. As it stands, Englewood residents are driving to near-by cities to make their pot purchases – and they’re bringing their hard-earned income with them. Had Englewood avoided banning cannabis sales in the first place, schools could be expanding, streets could be getting repaired, and residents could otherwise be reaping the benefit of a solid marijuana market in their community.


Though some states have been quicker than others to legalize recreational marijuana use and sales, certain areas within those states lag behind. Those who have chosen a “wait-and-see” approach to marijuana licenses have found that the sky has not fallen in 420-friendly areas – quite the contrary. 420-friendly areas are able to repair damaged roads, boost funding to schools and fund cannabis research; locations with pot bans, however, must wait a little longer to repair their crumbling infrastructure, attract new residents and provide funding to our schools.

Do you think it was wise to ban marijuana in some cities and counties? Why or why not?

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk


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A New Era For NORML

My name is Randy Quast and I am NORML’s new Acting Executive Director. Let me be the first to welcome you to a new era at NORML.



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Don’t Just Smoke Marijuana, Get Involved

Despite growing support for marijuana reform, the United States continues to waste billions of dollars enforcing federal prohibition with marijuana arrest rates accounting for as much as 42% of all drug charges. 87% of those arrests were for possession alone and have always fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of minorities;  black people are between 3.7 and 30 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana use despite similar trends in consumption compared to white people according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

But it’s not just minorities who suffer at the hands of the drug war. Families who need medical cannabis have been flocking to 420-friendly states in a desperate attempt to successfully medicate their children. Aptly dubbed “Marijuana Refugees”, these families are forced to leave behind everything they know – friends, family, careers – just to gain access to medical marijuana without risking legal repercussions.

What’s most touching about these families is that they all came from the same basic scenario: they’re desperate parents who are willing to do anything to protect the health and well-being of their children. The fact that they were forced to leave their lives behind to do so proves that we’re a long way from where we need to be.

Though some parts of the nation have granted its citizens freedom to consume cannabis, the law does little to protect others from the unfair consequences of the failed War on Drugs. Families will still be forced to flee to medical marijuana-friendly states to medicate their children, minorities will still be more vulnerable to drug war enforcement and taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for enforcing the illegal status of a freaking plant.

But YOU can help. Push marijuana reform forward by following a few simple steps:

Step One: Find Your Voice

There are many reasons people avoid voicing their opinion about cannabis use – conflicts regarding work, family or social circles and concern over legal repercussions are common reasons people avoid admitting support. But the more people that admit to both using and supporting the movement, the more normalized it will become and the easier it will be to bust the stoner stereotype once and for all.

Step Two: Share What You’ve Learned

School House Rock! was right: knowledge is power. That’s why it’s important to share what you’ve learned about marijuana in public forums like social media sites and discussion boards to inform those who may otherwise be ignorant about the benefits of marijuana reform and to rally support in the process.

To spread information, share interesting articles on social media, post insightful comments in discussion threads and drop credible research material whenever you get a chance. Most importantly, don’t badmouth those with differing opinions – nothing stops someone from listening like needless name-calling and accusations, so keep it civil (and on point) if you want to get others to come to our side.

Step Three: Attend Events and Rallies

As the numbers of attendees at marijuana rallies and events increases, it will become much harder to deny the impact marijuana has on society. By gathering en masse to promote fair marijuana laws, politicians will be forced to address the impact marijuana has on society. Lies and propaganda will become more easily dissolved and the truth about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis will become all the more apparent – because we demand nothing less than the truth!

Don’t forget to get behind some of the larger organizations in the industry who are fighting everyday to continue marijuana reform and support the overall legalization of the plant. Groups like NORML, Marijuana Policy Project and Women Grow are doing BIG things around the country, so do your research and join the cause.

Step Four: Vote!!!

Last but not least, get out there and vote! There is likely marijuana on the ballot in your state so vote in favor of cannabis reform and encourage your neighbors to do the same.

In terms of national reform, vote for representatives with the same positive stance on marijuana reform as you. Pay special attention to each candidate’s past and current stance on reform and avoid voting for those who notoriously flip-flop on the issue as their position might change once in office.

Although this action may seem small, pro-marijuana votes add up and could effectively change the landscape of the industry not only in your home state, but across the country as well.


As marijuana reform continues, it’s important that we band together to see that the path it takes is one that works for us all. Don’t sit idly back, puffing on your favorite strain while others struggle for their freedom. Take action now so we can all join in on a massive smoke sesh later!

What are you doing to contribute to the marijuana movement?


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Colorado man gets 18-36 months in Nebraska prison for 515 pounds of pot

LINCOLN, Neb. — A 69-year-old western Colorado man has been sent to a Nebraska prison for having around 515 pounds of marijuana in his pickup. Related marijuana and drug crime news POTUS: Obama just commuted the sentences of a record number of inmates Utah judge: Ex-judge urges Obama to commute…



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Mervin Dueck, Father Whose Son Drowned Says Seaweed Is A Hazard For Swimmers

WINNIPEG — A Manitoba father whose teenage son drowned two years ago says seaweed looks harmless under water, but it should be labelled as a danger for swimmers.

Mervin Dueck says his 19-year-old son, Calvin, was swimming with friends at St. Malo beach but died after becoming tangled up in seaweed.

Dueck says his son’s death was ruled a drowning but there was no mention of seaweed as a contributing cause.

He says there should be a change in the way drownings are reported to highlight seaweed as a hazard in relevant cases.

Hard to know if seaweed is cause of drowning: Lifesaving society

The office of Manitoba’s chief medical examiner says it won’t include contributing factors of a death unless the evidence is crystal clear.

Chris Love of the Manitoba Lifesaving Society says sometimes it’s hard to know when seaweed is the reason behind a drowning, as a body may have floated into seaweed by the time it’s found.

“So we can’t make a determination about that in most cases,” says Love.

Dueck also wants mandatory education about the dangers of seaweed included in swim lessons.

He says while his son was a strong swimmer, he was not familiar with what can lurk below in a lake.

Love says the lifesaving society agrees there should be more awareness among swimmers about the dangers of seaweed. The society recommends that when swimmers encounter seaweed, they should go slow, relax, lay back, float to catch their breath and slowly untangle themselves.

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