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You won’t hear the word “marijuana” at the Harborside Health Center, despite the thousands of pounds of marijuana that move in and out through its welcoming doors every year. You won’t hear “dope,” “pot,” “grass,” “weed,” “chronic,” “herb” or anything that smells of the street or illicit trade. You won’t hear much pot humor (even from me, even though I thought of a good joke while there*.) You will hear, over and over, the word “medicine.” And, if we need to specify the medicine we’re discussing, we shall call it “cannabis.” (It’s Latin, it was explained to me. Sounds more serious. Medical.)
I have always admired true believers, whatever their specific belief: those people who are so convinced of the rightness of their cause, or the value of their passion, that they devote all to it and risk all for it, their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor,” to borrow a phrase. And Steve DeAngelo has done all that; he says – with some pride – that’s he sold enough cannabis to be eligible for the death penalty under Federal Law. (I checked; he’s right.) He says he has been involved in “the cannabis movement” since the age of fifteen, and before you start making wisecracks like, “Yeah, and I was an activist in the cheap beer movement starting about the same time,” read his bio. He has been deeply involved in political crusades since adolescence; whatever the rightness of his cause, there’s no denying that for him it is, in fact, a cause.
Simply put: DeAngelo believes that cannabis is an almost universally useful medicine and that people should have the same level of access to it that they have to say Oxycontin. He has created at the Harborside Health Center in Oakland as a deliberate model of a modern, safe, regulated, legal (under California law) medical cannabis dispensary. It is the Whole Foods Market of cannabis, down to the helpful clerks wearing polo shirts with the HHC logo, the gift shop, the glass display cases. It is a clean, well-lighted place to buy cannabis in all its forms.
You need a doctor’s recommendation to purchase medical cannabis (not a “prescription,” due to a quirk in the law that Steve understands and I don’t.) If you bring in a recommendation, they will sit you down in a pleasant waiting room while they check that your doctor is licensed by the State of California, and then call that doctor to make sure your recommendation is legit. Once you’re approved, you stand in line, approach a display case, and a helpful associate will listen to your complaints and suggest the correct medicine – edible, smokable, sativa or indicia, plant or unguent. If you don’t have the resources to pay, they’ll help you out. If you have an addiction problem, they will help you out. If you want a yoga class or a genuine hemp fiber handbag, they will help you out. They are a helpful group of folks.
This is all kind of funny until it is not, and that moment came for me when the film crew and I decided to interview one of the patients, a woman in her forties with a lined face but who offered a smile when I asked if we could talk to her. “What’s your medical complaint?” I asked. “Cancer,” she said, and smiled again, thanked us, took her brown paper bag of medicine and left.
We were talking to Steve and his staff and patients for the “constitutional and” series for PBS because Steve claims that under the 10th Amendment, the Federal Government has no power to overrule the State of California’s own legislative and popular will when it comes to medical marijuana. His arguments are very similar to that of Gary Marbut’s, although Steve feels that unlike cannabis, gun violence is a scourge and should absolutely be regulated. (Constitutional law makes strange bedfellows.) There’s a lot of sense to what he’s saying: if states are able to regulate alcohol as they like, why not cannabis? And, for that matter, how come the United States needed a Constitutional amendment (the 18th) to ban alcohol but can ban cannabis as a matter of administrative law? And – as Steve knows, which is why he invited our crew into the Health Center – it’s a hard and cold thing to cite the Supremacy Clause as a reason to take a plant away from a cancer patient who uses it to feel better.
So Steve has claimed his constitutional rights, as he sees them, which are to abide by the law of the state in which he lives despite contravening Federal law, because, he says, the Constitution gives the US Government no right to regulate the growth, transport, and use of marijuana within state lines for personal use. But just as we finished the interview, I asked Steve this question:
“Suppose you win your argument, and you convince everyone of the value of medical cannabis, and the President and Congress impose a national regime of legalization and regulation so that there are places like Harborside all over the country: clean, safe, legal places to buy cannabis. But then suppose that one state – say, Utah– disagrees with that policy. And under its laws, cannabis remains illegal. Would you still be in favor of their rights under the 10th amendment?”
And Steve paused, and Steve thought, and then he shook his head and said, “I’m pretty much a one-issue guy. I just want to do everything I can to get this medicine into the hands of people who need it.”
This is what I’ve learned about the Constitution, after three weeks of travel and filming and interviews: The Constitution is, to whoever looks at it, whatever it most needs to be, for them, at that time. And the endless argument over whether it says anything objectively – other than, say, the minimum age to be President – may be itself the whole point of the document. The Constitution doesn’t settle debates, at least not most of them. It creates the arena for them.
This morning I experienced something that really made me laugh. I wouldn’t say this necessarily has to be something that has to go, but I couldn’t share it here.
Valentines Day was most definitely invented by a woman. I don’t have any historical research to back this up, but even if you show me something to the contrary I won’t believe you. Just another reason for women to make their man show them their love with their time and wallet. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not exactly complaining about it, just calling it for what it is. I love my wife, and if this gives me an excuse (read that kick in the butt) to get out there and do something to show my feelings, I’m on it.
The guys at work and I all headed to Costco because if there is any place that screams romance it’s Costco. Actually, any seasoned V-day participant knows that Costco is the best option around for a good set of flowers at a decent price. I’ve been a loyal visitor there every year on Feb 14th for as long as I can remember. Usually, I am trying to squeeze it in later in the day, so the pickings are a bit slimmer by then. Today we decided to be there early and get the better selection.
Apparently, we are not the only enlightened husbands in the valley because we arrived to find a huge contingent of men waiting for the doors to open. This is Costco though, so we weren’t worried. There would be enough flowers to go around. Looking around though I could see more than a few furrowed brows as more men continued to arrive prior to the grand opening. The concern was written on their faces as they knew they had to beat these other guys in there to get the best flowers for their gals. Actually, what I think really worried them was the idea that they would be rushed into picking out their flowers ’cause if they dallied, everyone else would snatch up the good ones.
I decided right then I had to turn this into a bull rush. When the big doors began to roll back I timed my advance to the door so I passed through with a slight graze to my hair yet without a break in my stride. The greeter at the door mentioned she would like to see member cards, and the novices of the group stopped to fish them out. The advanced shoppers of the bunch continued on at full steam.
This is where it got fun. I was in a group of a dozen or so guys leading the pack, right in the middle of them. We were carrying on at a decent clip towards the middle of the store where the flowers are kept – not running, just a brisk walk. Time to test the resolve of these guys to win at this unspoken contest. If there was anything that has to go in this story, it is the innate need to make a competition out of the dumbest things. Every guy wants to win, even if there is nothing really to win; we can’t help it. So, I picked up the pace.
My sudden increase was immediately noticed and matched a brief moment later by the entire group. They knew I was making my move but none wanted to give up pole position. The gauntlet was thrown and the race was on. We hit the first set of isles and the group split up with some taking the direct route and others cutting through other isles to hide the fact that they were going to break into a full on run once out of site.
I nearly doubled over laughing, but instead slowed my pace a bit and let the others get ahead. I arrived a few seconds after the initial group and of course, there were hundreds of bouquets to choose from. My sweetheart received her flowers and I left with a good story to brighten my day. Hopefully, it brightened yours a bit as well.
I honestly can’t say I despise junk mail as much as most people. I think it is a complete waste of natural resources, and most of the offers are worth less than the paper they are printed on. Yet, as a graphic designer by trade, I try to view as much advertising material as possible that might spark ideas for my future work. The more take in the better to fill my creative synapses with material that might be useful later. So, sorry, I’ll leave the I hate all junk mail rant for one of our other fine authors.
For me, I really despise the financial offers of any kind, especially those that put your identity at risk. Not that they are sharing any information that couldn’t be grabbed by other means, but they provide a way that an identity thieve can quite easily forge your info and grab a line of credit in your name. We have a personally sized shredder on a kitchen counter that takes good care of each and every one of these offers.
How many mortgage offers do I need to receive and not respond to before I get off the “you may qualify for XXX savings per month on your payment by refinancing? How low does my interest rate need to be before I don’t appear on the “potential sucker” list for the next loan officer? I know they are rolling the dice by hitting all the home buyers in the last few years that may be prime to refinance, but can we please provide an update to all the list brokers that I am fine so don’t waste the money sending me an offer? Problem is, list brokers make their money supplying you with as many names as possible within the requested demographic, so I am afraid I’m stuck on that list.
Now let’s get to the one in particular that truly causes an involuntary roll of the eyes when I see their envelopes arrive in my box. Several companies do this, but none is a bigger offender than CapitalOne. “What’s in your wallet?” How about “What’s in your mailbox?” CapitalOne has, likely from some sort of market research, determined that sending you the same offer repeatedly over the course of a few weeks increases the chances you will take the offer. At first, I thought they may be sending one to me personally, one to my wife and perhaps one to my business (located at the same home office address). Nope, this is the exact same offer, perhaps repacked slightly with a different header design and intro text to the letterhead, but the guts of it exactly the same. “Maybe if we just give it this twist, that’ll get ‘em.”
If I don’t respond to the one, I’m not going to respond to the next three in the same month. Really, I mean it. Go ahead perhaps and send me one every 6 months or so, I can see the logic in that. Admittedly, when I started my business I used one of these mailed offers to get my business card, giving me a year of no interest for some start-up capital. I managed it carefully and to date still, have not paid any interest on the card because I never carry a balance. I’m not their prime target customer, I know because they make their big money on interest.
I’m still a customer of CapitalOne, mainly because I have miles built up I still plan to use, and I like their online services. Why is it then they still keep sending me these repeat new customer credit card offers? With all their massive technology and advertising dollars, you would think they could match up their customer records with their mailing list to weed out a few unnecessary mailers. What a novel concept, maybe I should sell it to them. On top of this, as a customer, I get their personal loan offers, balance transfers, and small business loan offers. They may actually spend more on mailing me things than they make on my business. Not really I’m sure, but it sure seems like it.
Now here is where I have to admit my laziness being a part of the problem. If you haven’t noticed this before, on these offers they have a notice where you can get off their list and no longer receive mailers. I’ve seen it a few times, but never managed to make the call before the letter has hit the shredder. And what if I do actually want to get a different credit card down the road? Can I elect to get one a year…please?
Oh well, it’s easier to complain than actually do something about it, right?
YANKEE SPRING TRAINING JOURNAL, DAY 1
I was nervous walking in, my first day with the Big League Team. My hands shook so badly you could hear the bats rattle in my bag. “Here,” said Hideki Matsui, reaching out a massive hand, “Let me take that,” I was surprised and pleased that he spoke neither in Japanese or English, but in Esperanto, which he had learned in order to welcome rookies of all nationalities. Gary Sheffield approached me, put a hand on his hip, cocked an eyebrow, and said, “That blow-dried look won’t work for you in the Show, I’m afraid,” and immediately set up a Skype session for me with his own stylist in Brentwood.
Then I saw him, over in the corner, near the chocolate fountain. Jason Giambi, staring at me with sad, wounded eyes. He pointed at himself, then he mimed plunging a syringe into his own buttock. His eyes never left mine. It was haunting. I looked away, unable to stand the intensity of his gaze, and when I looked back, he was gone.
A tough but good day taking batting practice under the eye of the coaches, as well as two hours of fielding drills with the other prospects. I’m feeling confident and reminding myself that the field here is the same size as in all the minor league parks I’ve played in.
When I return to my locker, a note falls out. It says, “Storage room.”
There is no light when I open the door to the storage room, and the switch on the wall doesn’t work as I flick it up and down. Then a spark flares in the corner, and I see the face of Jason Giambi, who lights a candle with his freshly lit match. He has created a kind of shrine around himself, broken syringes, pill bottles, and needles, all pointing towards himself, in the center. He is naked except for compression pants, with the words “Guilty” painted all over his powerful torso in lipstick.
“The first time, you think it’s just for an emergency, just to get your energy back after a tough series,” he said, dully, his eyes staring at the candle flame. “You say to yourself, ‘It’s not cheating, it’s just getting myself back to what I really am.’ But the second time, the third, the fourth… pretty soon, it is who you really are. A cheater.’”
“What’s that music?” I asked him.
“’Carmina Burana,’ by Carl Orff,” he said. “I alternate that with the Smiths.”
“Oh,” I said. “I like Nicky Minaj, maybe a little Maroon 5. Gets me pumped up for the game.”
He blew out the candle just as I closed the door, plunging himself back into darkness.
My first spring training game and it didn’t go well. Nerves, I think. Two strikeouts and a dribbler to short in my first 3 ABs, but I was able to focus on playing my own game and beat out an infield single in the 8th. Posada, Mitsui, and Sheffield did the Wave from the dugout, and Derek Jeter sent me flowers.
Still, I wasn’t in the best mood, so when I saw a huge sheaf of paper pinned to my locker I didn’t even read it but went straight to Giambi. “What’s this, Jason?” I said,
“It’s my confession,” he said, staring down the floor. “Every instance, every injection, every pill popped, even the time I chewed some chia seeds. I wanted to unburden myself to you, completely, so that you would know me to the depths.”
“Yeah, I appreciate that, Jason,” I said, “And I know you’re really really sorry about the drugs and stuff…”
“More than you know.”
“No, Jason, I think I know EXACTLY HOW MUCH. There were the notes, and the song you wrote, and the video presentation.
“I animated that by hand,” he whispered.
“Right, yes, so the point is, I KNOW YOU’RE SORRY. And you know what, bro? I forgive you. It’s okay, man. You don’t have to worry about me.”
Jason looked up at me.
“I’d be crying right now,” he said, “But incessant use of steroids destroyed my tear ducts.”
“I know,” I said. “That was in the Powerpoint.”
He stood up.
“Thanks, man,” he said. “Your forgiveness is all I asked.”
“You got it, bro.”
I turned to walk away.
“One for four today, huh?” he said. “No way you’re taking my position with numbers like that. I told the skipper, you get sent down or I demand a trade. Enjoy the minors, rook.”
I stared at him.
“I’m sorry for that, too,” he said.
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Teck (TSX:TCK.B; NYSE:TCK) is strengthening its grip on the Zafranal copper project in Peru, buying up more shares in junior AQM Copper (TSXV:AQM).
Teck already owns 50 percent of the project, and just shy of 20 percent of AQM Copper, which effectively has a 30 percent carried interest in Zafranal to feasibility. Another partner, Mitsubishi, with AQM on the project, committed funds for prefeasibility and feasibility studies of the project.
The diversified miner said today it would buy a 10.5 percent stake in AQM Copper, bringing its total position in the junior to just over 30 percent.
Teck is buying 14.6 million shares at C$0.1037 a share and will thus spend about C$1.5 million.
Teck already owns 50 percent of AQM’s flagship Zafranal copper project.
The acquisition signals an increasing commitment to the Zafranal project by Teck.
In the grand scheme of things, Zafranal is a relatively recent copper porphyry discovery made, in fact, by Teck about a decade ago. Teck subsequently optioned out the project to AQM, headed up by President and CEO Bruce Turner, which fleshed out the scale of mineralization and produced a resource estimate on the project showing a sizeable copper-gold deposit.
The project holds 621 million tonnes @ 0.37 % copper and 0.07 g/t gold in measured and indicated resources assuming a 0.2% Cu cut-off grade.
The deposit made for a pretty strong preliminary economic assessment last year in which Teck, AQM and Mitsuibishi propose two scenarios for the mine, one involving 44,000-tonne-per-day concentrator and another at 80,000-tonnes-per-day. Respectively those scenarios, assuming $3/pound copper and $1,274 an ounce gold, yielded 18% and 17% internal rates of return and capital costs of $1.1 billion and $1.5 billion.
The deposit and mine set up have some nice features such as a low striping ratio at 0.7, a downhill run for trucks to dump waste rock from open pit operations and leachable near-surface oxides and seconary sulphides on top of more extensive hypogene resources below.