Driver Faces Felony Tracking Charges for Hemp In Idaho A driver for Fast Freight Haulers LLC, Jenny McLowry, was hauling a load of industrial hemp and stopped at a weight station in Idaho, where her truck was subsequently seized. She was arrested on felony drug trafficking charges. According to Fast Freight Haulers, Jenny McLowry was hauling legal industrial hemp to Colorado for processing. But Idaho State Police say that the load was actually 6,996 pounds of illegal marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana are members of the cannabis family. But while marijuana can contain around 40% THC, hemp contains only trace amounts of THC. In other words, it can’t get you high. After the passage of the 2018 farm bill, industrial hemp with less than .3% THC is legal according to federal law. When McLowry stopped at the East Boise Point of Entry weigh station, she wasn’t worried. But according to a press release put out by the Idaho State Police, “the trooper’s training and experience made him suspicious that the cargo was in fact marijuana, not industrial hemp.” A drug testing kit revealed that the load tested positive for THC. But according to Fast Freight Haulers, the hemp from that particular farm was tested 19 times before the load was picked up, and came back with THC levels of .043% – well below the federal legal limit of .3% Unfortunately for McLowry, according to Idaho state law, a substance with any amount of THC in it is still illegal. McLowry was arrested and charged with felony trafficking of marijuana. If she’s found guilty, she will serve at least the mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and pay a minimum $15,000 fine. Fast Freight Haulers posted a $100,000 bail for McLowry. The company is now suing Idaho to try and get the charges against her dropped and get their load of industrial hemp released. They are also asking for an admission of wrongdoing from the state.
News from across the US CalPERS in Crisis The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) continues to be severely strained with an estimated $170 billion in unfunded liabilities. This figure is higher than previous projections due to CalPERS achieving lower than expected ROI and difficulties with contributions from municipal and state authorities. Reform efforts from Gov. Jerry Brown had limited success in bringing the system into financial balance, with public sector unions resisting and bringing lawsuits against the most significant of reforms, such as prohibiting government employees from being be permitted to ‘spike’ their wages in the years nearing retirement to setup a higher overall pension benefit once a worker does retire. Similar efforts to limit to practice to only current employees and not available to new hires have also been resisted, as violations of the ‘California Rule’. The California Rule public employees a right to whatever benefit was available to them on their initial day of employment, including the right to manipulate the compensation that determines their lifetime pension benefit. The CalPERS system wields significant political and financial influence. Proposals to change CalPERS to a model similar to a 401(k), as has been done in much of the private sector and other state retirement systems, has been considered politically non-viable as also violating the California rule. Some suggesting the federal government should cover the unfunded liabilities, while others suggest that CalPERS needs to bring their promises and expected ROI in line with typical projections. Only time will tell what happens in California. Second Vermont Republic Gaining Support The Second Vermont Republic, a loosely-organized group in Vermont which advocates for the re-establishment of Vermont as an independent political entity, has been gaining prominence in that state recently. A recent poll conducted within the state found that 29% of respondents agreed with the idea of ‘peaceably leaving the United States and becoming an independent republic, as it was from 1777 to 1791.’ This is a increase from the 21% in a similar poll conducted in 2017. “This is now the United States of Corporations, not America” said James LaCroix, a spokesman of the group, “We have a federal government that’s out of touch, incapable of being reformed. Our group is open to all, right or left. We are advocating decentralizing and self-reliance.” The group plans to field candidates for office at all levels of Vermont politics in the future. Mississippi Follows Alabama in Displaying Ten Commandments In 2018, voters in the state of Alabama approved a measure that would allow for the Ten Commandments to be displayed on state property, 72%-28%. Voters in the state of Mississippi approved a similar ballot measure in 2020 by similar margins. Supporters of the measure are pleased at its spread and state that is advances the cause of “freedom of religion, not freedom from religion” while Americans United for Separation of Church and State claim the passage implicit endorses insiders who ascribe to those views and such endorsements creates second-class citizens. The text of the amendment follows: