Saturday, June 16, 2018

SCANDALOUS LOUISIANA INSURANCE RATES!


Thursday, June 14th, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
SCANDALOUS LOUISIANA INSURANCE RATES!

 Can you put lipstick on a pig? Well, business leaders are certainly giving it their best shot in an effort to counteract the fact that Louisiana’s outrageously expensive insurance rates make the Bayou State an environment hostile to the attraction of new businesses.  But, last week, compounding the problem, new figures showed automobile rates continue to rise, along with insurance rates for every homeowner.  And unfortunately, both legislators and insurance regulators are assuming a blasé attitude — “that’s just the price you have to pay for living in Louisiana.”
 Newspaper headlines blared out across the country about the skyrocketing insurance costs of driving an automobile in Louisiana.  USA Today:  “Louisiana Car Insurance Costs Most – the state can’t catch a break.”  The San Francisco Chronicle:  “Louisiana Tops State Rankings of Car Insurance Rates.”  National Auto Week:  “Drivers in Louisiana are hit hardest on Car Insurance Premiums.”  New York Daily News:  “Louisiana has the nation’s most expensive car insurance.”  Similar headlines appeared in newspapers coast to coast.
 Just how bad are the Louisiana rates?  Compared to surrounding states they’re stunning.  The Bayou State far outpaces its neighbors to win the dubious distinction of having the highest car insurance rates in the nation.  Annual premiums in New Orleans average more than $4,000 per year with Baton Rouge a little cheaper at an average of more than $3,300 per year.
Texas weighs in at $1,545, making it over $1000 cheaper to insure in Texas than in Louisiana. To the east, Mississippi, a state that fares worse than Louisiana on most lists, car insurance averages a paltry $1,345.  Should it really cost $1,354 more for auto insurance in Louisiana than in Mississippi?  To the north, Arkansas comes in at $1,545, which is $1,154 less than insuring in Louisiana.  In every other state in America, the charge of insuring a vehicle is not just less, but a lot less, with the cost being 46 percent higher than the national average.
 Thousands of Louisianans have a camp or beach property in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama or Florida where legal residence is claimed in order to obtain a much cheaper rate. Take note of some of your fellow employees or neighbors who drive around your city with out of state license plates.  Even at the state capitol, some of the top assistants to statewide officials drive cars registered in other states.
 Why are Louisiana costs so high and so out of line with the rest of the nation?  Lawsuit abuse — “It’s those damn lawyers,” shout the insurance companies.  But a check of the laws shows that both Mississippi and Texas allow for punitive damages that dramatically increase jury verdicts, where Louisiana does not allow such damages.  Doctors in Louisiana only have to buy the first $100,000 of malpractice coverage, with a state fund picking up the excess.  The problems go way beyond “those damn lawyers.”
 Louisiana brags about its wonderful differences and the special charm of living in the deepest of the deep southern states. And rightfully so, when it comes to the culture, music, food, architecture, plantation homes, football and ambience.  But the lousy roads, drunk driving, uninsured drivers, and poorly trained drivers are part of Louisiana’s differences as well, and they aren’t so wonderful.
 Then there is regulation, or the lack thereof in Louisiana.  In most states, there is a pre approval system that requires insurance companies to submit a rate increase request to the Department of Insurance.  Yes, there is a submissions process in Louisiana.  But the insurance company can go right ahead and raise their rates before regulator review.  This makes as much sense as closing the gate after the horse is already out of the barn.
 If you add up the much higher charges incurred by Louisiana insurance purchasers as compared to surrounding states, the local folks are stuck paying out well over $1.5 billion a year more.  That’s $1.5 billion that has been taken away from the local economy. 

It’s $1.5 billion that Louisiana families could be using to educate their kids, and improve their quality of life. It’san injustice to Louisiana taxpayers that elected officials seem unwilling to address.   And all Louisiana families are the losers.

*******
 “It’s not hurricanes that are causing high insurance rates, but bad government policy.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Policy analyst Michelle Minton
Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.







Thursday, June 07, 2018

WHY TAX DOLLARS FOR THE SAINTS?


June 7th, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

WHY TAX DOLLARS FOR THE SAINTS?

The Times Picayune reported last week that the New Orleans Saints may ask the state to pay for a $350 million upgrade to the Superdome before the 2024 Super bowl. That’s a huge taxpayer commitment for a state that can’t even fund education at all levels and basic healthcare for hundreds of thousands of its citizens. So how should any upgrade be paid for?

The Green Bay Packers are one of the best examples of how a sports franchise should operate. They don’t go to the state capitol hat in hand, looking for a handout. The team is owned by citizen stockholders all over Wisconsin, and the Packers’ management doesn’t regularly try to blackmail public officials under threat of moving. 

Recently, when it came time for Green Bay to revamp and refurnish legendary Lambeau Field, the state of Wisconsin didn’t put up one penny.  All proceeds came from the private sector. Season ticket holders were charged a one-time user fee of $1,400, which fans can pay over several years.  In addition, the Packers did a stock offering, just like many corporations do for capital improvements.  And finally, the packers took out a team loan to be repaid out of yearly revenues.  No sweetheart deals from the state, no special considerations, no coming to the public trough for taxpayer money.
What happens in my home state of Louisiana is that team owners have cried wolf saying they will have no choice but to move elsewhere if, the tax incentives and outright dollars are not bountifully offered.  But under the NFL financial structure, owners can’t loose money.

Unlike other professional sports operations, individual teams do not sell television revenues.  In baseball, the New York Yankees get broadcasting revenues significantly greater that what a smaller market receives.  In pro football, every team shares in one gigantic pie.  Little Green Bay receives the same television revenues as does a team in New York or Los Angeles.

The Packers have also bought up 28 acres spending more than $27 million to develop an entertainment district.  This would give the team revenues that it would not have to share with other clubs.  It is a business strategy that a number of NFL franchises are undertaking. The Saints have the same strategy but Louisiana taxpayers pay all the costs.

The Saints receive $6 million in direct funding, from the state of Louisiana each year.  But there is much more they will receive that is every bit as valuable as direct payments, including millions in upgrades for luxury boxes that mean more profit.  The state pays the cost, and the Saints get the income.
Then there is the agreement for the state to lease office space in a downtown office building adjacent to the Dome being purchased by the Saints owners.  The state is to lease more than 320,000 feet at $24 dollars square foot, which is one of the highest rental rates in the state today. So the Louisiana taxpayers are basically paying the cost of the building the Saints’ ownership is buying.

But what about all these projections of how much the economy in New Orleans will be positively impacted, with millions more in tax revenue. Figures are being wildly thrown around, indicating an $500 million economic impact. A University of New Orleans study, quoted in a New Orleans Times Picayuneeditorial, estimated that the Saints produce $22 million in state revenue.  Here’s the fallacy.  Any such analysis assumes that all of the dollars spent at Saints games are dollars that are new to the region’s economy.  Most dollars spent going to the Superdome are dollars that would have been spent on other leisure activities in the area.  There are numerous choices as to how to spend leisure dollars.  Going to a football game is just one.

The Brookings Institution’s recent 500 page study titled, Sports, Jobs and Taxes, concluded that professional sports teams “realign economic activity within a city’s leisure industry rather than adding to it.  “Professional sports,” they write, “are not a major catalyst for economic development. Consultants, often hired by team owners who say otherwise, according to the Brookings study, “are peddling snake oil.”

But more important, the Packers represent the best of the American free enterprise system. They built a championship team by paying their own way without trolling for taxpayer dollars. It’s a lesson that should be adhered to by both the Saints and the State of Louisiana. 

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.





Thursday, May 31, 2018

HORSEMEAT-IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER!

May 31st, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
HORSEMEAT-IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER!

Louisiana has been called the Culinary Mecca of America.  Folks in this part of the country can take just about anything edible and make it not just good, but quite exceptional.  And when we say anything, we mean everything.  There is virtually no limit to what a Cajun will put in a gumbo. Well, because of federal restrictions, there is one thing-horsemeat.

For years, Congress has banned the sale of horsemeat for consumption in the U.S. But that could well change under the proposed budget by the Trump Administration. 

Now I’ll admit that most of us do not regularly run down to our local supermarket to check on whether a fresh shipment of horsemeat has arrived.  But I’m not all that enamored by eating nutria, a large rat, that is regularly publicized as a tasty dish by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.  So, to each his own.

Is there a market for U.S. horsemeat?  Yes, and it’s big time in a number of countries.  “Carne di Cavallo,” can be bought in most butcher shops in Italy.  In Sweden, horsemeat is so popular that it outsells lamb and mutton combined.  In every European country you will find horsemeat to be quite popular. In France, it’s the motherlode of food delicacies, they even have a horsemeat butcher’s organization called Federation de la Boucherie Hippophagique. It’s estimated that 700,000 tons of horsemeat are consumed annually worldwide. And for good reason.

As Gary Picariello writes in Yahoo News, “a typical filet of horsemeat is similar to that of beef. The meat is leaner, slightly sweeter in taste, with a flavor somewhat between that of beef and venison. Good horsemeat is very tender, but it can also be slightly tougher than comparable cuts of beef. Horsemeat is higher in protein and lower in fat. The most popular cuts of horsemeat come from the hindquarters: tenderloin, sirloin, filet steak, rump steak and rib. Less tender cuts are ground.”

Here’s what restaurateur Jonathan Birdsall told me about possible horsemeat demand in the U.S.  “I’ll bet I could name half a dozen American chefs chomping at the bit to do things to horse back fat or loins that’d show off a delicacy few of us probably never suspected Mr. Ed to be capable of. Braised on a nice bed of pasta, maybe, with a few roasted finger-length carrots.”  Hmmm.  Think it’s worth a try?

Like I said, we eat about anything down here in Bayou Country.  I wrote a cook book some years ago that includes such delicacies as my “world famous” squirrel stew, venison goulash, possum and chestnuts, rabbit in sour cream, and Louisiana Governor Jimmy Davis’s favorite, fried coon file’.
I was traveling through Cajun country a few years ago, and stopped at a rural general store for a cup of coffee.  An old fellow was on the porch cooking up a pot of something that smelled good.  “Whatcha’ cookin’?” I asked.  “Got me a gumbo,” he replied.  I inquired what kind of gumbo, and he told me, “an owl gumbo.”  When I asked him what an owl gumbo tasted like, he smiled and said, “Oh, about like a hawk gumbo.”

Seeing that our locals regularly eat alligator sauce piquante, and add to a stew or gumbo just about anything else that flies or crawls, it’s hard for many of us to get too worked up over a little horsemeat.   I know that many have a special affection for the majestic horse.  But all horses eventually have to be disposed of. And the same horses that would be slaughtered in the U.S. under strict guidelines are now being shipped to other countries and both treated and killed in far more cruel ways.

It’s hard to figure why Congress has such a beef with letting someone chose to eat horsemeat.  Isn’t it really a freedom of choice issue?  Our congressmen apparently have no problem with eating Porky Pig, Donald Duck, and Bambi.  So what’s the big deal about eating Trigger and Mr. Ed?

Since we have a French background here in Louisiana, could the politicians in Washington be dangerously close to inciting another revolution by telling us what we can or cannot eat?  Instead of a big fuss being made over, “let us eat cake,” the new battle cry could well be, “let us eat horse.”

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.






Wednesday, May 23, 2018

HE HIGHS AND LOWS OF BILLY CANNON


May 24th, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


 THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF BILLY CANNON
THE TOAST OF LSU!

Billy Cannon died this week. He was a Louisiana sports legend. There are some things you just don’t forget. Where you were on 9/11, or when President John Kennedy was shot.  Down here in the Bayou State, add to those special dates Halloween night 59 years ago when Billy Cannon made football history with his 87 yard run to beat Ole Miss and keep the Tigers undefeated. His story is the rise and fall, then the rise again by LSU’s all-time great sports hero. 

Even those who are not Tiger fans have to admit it was one heck of a run. Cannon either sidestepped or pushed away tackler after tackler as he weaved his way towards the end zone. I wish I had a dollar for every time the magical run has been replayed on television. You can imagine the crowd’s reaction on most Saturday football nights in Tiger Stadium as once again the fans in the stadium, and the millions on national television, see Ole’ Billy tear through the Rebel opposition
This feat by Cannon allowed the Tigers to beat Ole’ Miss 7 to 3, and made him a celebrity for life. Paul Revere had his famous ride and Billy Cannon had his remarkable run.

Cannon went on to play professional football with the Houston Oilers and the Oakland Raiders.  Then he went to dental school and built a successful dental practice in Baton Rouge. Because of his popularity, Cannon’s practice flourished to an estimated $300,000 a year - quite a sum in the 1960s!  But then his celebrity world came crashing down,  and I played a small role in his demise.

It was 1983, and I was in my first term as Louisiana Secretary of State. I was at my office one afternoon when my secretary said there were two Treasury agents to see me, and they demanded immediate attention. They pulled out a hundred dollar bill saying it was a fake, and that it had shown up in the Secretary of State’s bank account.

I had my staff go over all the various billing and deposit records, and we were able to determine that a local attorney used the hundred-dollar bill to pay for a corporate filing. We later learned that in was the first Cannon-made counterfeit bill to be discovered in the Baton Rouge area. Others quickly appeared, and a major money printing operation was broken open a few months later. The seventh-largest counterfeiting ring in American history was no more.

For years thereafter when I made speeches around the state, I relished in telling those in attendance how I knew the bill was counterfeit. “You know down at the bottom of the 100 dollar bill where it says ‘In God We Trust?’ Well on the Cannon 100 dollar bill, it said ‘Go to Hell Ole Miss.’” 

Cannon quickly confessed and helped prosecutors crack the case wide-open. At the sentencing, Cannon told federal Judge Frank J. Polozola: “… what I did was wrong, terribly wrong. I have done everything within my power to correct my mistakes.”

To thousands of LSU fans, Cannon’s confession pierced the very heart of their allegiance and adulation of LSU’s greatest sports hero. Like the little boy who pleaded with Shoeless Joe Jackson of the Chicago White Sox on the courthouse steps in the famous “Black Sox” baseball scandal of 1919, all many LSU fans could think of was, “Say it ain’t so, Billy.”

As part of Cannon’s redemption, he took on the job of dentist up at Angola State Penitentiary, an hour’s drive north of Baton Rouge. The guards and inmates, alike, love him up there. Do fans still hold a grudging disappointment with Cannon? Well, when he was introduced a few years ago at Tiger Stadium just after being admitted to the College Football Hall of Fame, the cheering went on and on. Repeated efforts by the stadium announcer to quiet the fans down fell on deaf ears. Neither the President nor the Pope would have gotten such an avid ovation. Billy was back, and all had been forgiven.

Billy Cannon, like few others, has experienced the dramatic highs and lows of being a major sports hero in Louisiana.  F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that in life, there are no second acts. And Thomas Wolfe wrote that you can’t go home again. Billy Cannon proved them both wrong.  And now, he will go home to meet his maker.
*****
“People associate me with football regardless of where I go…except when their tooth hurts. They don’t care whether I played football or not. They just want the toothache to stop.”
Billy Cannon
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.






Thursday, May 17, 2018

A THIRD POLITICAL PARTY FOR LOUISIANA?

Thursday, May 17th, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A THIRD POLITICAL PARTY FOR LOUISIANA?

Political parties are at a low ebb both in Louisiana and throughout the rest of the country. Public opinion often dips below 40% approval rating in numerous national and statewide polling. Voters continue to lose faith in how both Democrats and Republicans govern. When asked why people belong to a certain party, the negative views of the opposing party are often given.  In other words, “I’m a Democrat because I can’t stand the _Republicans” and visa versa.

In last week’s episode of the TV series Designated Survivor, Kiefer Sutherland plays the role of the president who is a registered Independent. When told by the leaders of both parties that he has to choose one political party or the other, Sutherland tells the gathering: “I will stay an Independent. I will take my case to the American people and tell them that that partisanship is ruining this country, and that their representatives are more interested in keeping their power than serving the people.”

The Louisiana legislature finds itself in gridlock quite similar to the “do nothing” Congress in Washington.  Governor John Bel Edwards has jut called his sixth special legislative session after only two and a half years in office.  Yet legislators have little direction or specifics as to what the governor wants to accomplish. Yes, balancing the budget is the primary goal, but what’s the administration roadmap to get new revenue or make additional cuts?

A large number of Republican legislators seem content on opposing new taxes without offering any specifics on what cuts need to be made.  And with a gubernatorial election on the horizon next year, keeping the governor in a financial quagmire means a better opportunity for a strong Republican challenger.

So how about future chances of the newly formed Independent Party?  Independent voters are on the rise in Louisiana, with 26% of voters choosing such a designation. The Bayou State regularly votes Republican but only 30% of the electorate is registered as such. Independent voters could well outnumber Republicans in the next few years.

Democrats hold a 44% registration, but white Democrats are leaving the party in droves. Only 18% of voters are white Democrats, down from 35% just 17 years ago. The Democrat Party accelerated its demise when partyofficials decided it was no longer “politically correct” to honor Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, two American icons who were the two most important figures in the creation and protection of Louisiana. The Jefferson-Jackson annual democratic fundraiser is now called the True Blue Gala, as part of the party’s warped effort to rewrite history. 

Louisiana’s open election primary system, where all candidates run in a no party contest, would make it easier for an Independent candidate to be elected. And the perfect opportunity for a candidate to exploit the Independent label is the special election for Secretary of State that will take place this fall.  An Independent candidate could make a strong case that the State’s chief elections officer should not be part of a partisan party effort, and should not be aligned with either Republicans or Democrats.

Louisiana has a long history of voting irregularities. Remembers the words of former Gov. Earl Long who famously stated;  “Oh Lord, let me be buried in Louisiana. So I can stay active in politics.”  And we are witnessing an ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the nation’s elections, all of which are regulated on a state-by-state basis. A well-financed Independent candidate for Secretary of State, who ran a campaign that called for non-partisan oversight to insure fair elections, would be quite appealing to Louisiana voters.

I would also suggest that a new Independent party, appealing to center-right voters, would also be attractive to more moderate Republicans and Democrats, who are sick and tired of the “tribal politics” that seems to have become a blood sport here in Louisiana. There is a lot of dysfunction in Louisiana politics today. Perhaps there is an opening for Independent candidates if they will seize the opportunity.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.














Wednesday, May 09, 2018

GETTING OLDER AIN’T ALL THAT BAD!


Thursday, May 10th, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

GETTING OLDER AIN’T ALL THAT BAD!

There is a disturbing article in a recent issue of Atlantic Magazine by a prominent physician at the University of Pennsylvania. Ezekiel J. Emanuelis an oncologist, a bioethicist, and a vice provost of the University, and is the author or editor of 10 books, including Reinventing American Health Care. So he is a bright guy who knows a lot about health. His premise is that no one, in this day and age, should aspire to live longer than 75 years of age.

Now I would be skeptical of such an assertion no matter what my current age. I read the obituary section of several newspapers each day, and make note of a number of successful people who have lived a much longer lifespan. But the Atlantic article becomes more than a bit personal to me. You see, this week, I turned 78.

The premise of Dr. Emanuel’s article is that, for most people, the quality of life diminishes after 75.  He writes that aging “robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society and the world. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.” He concludes by assuming that those who continue to be productive long after 75 are “outliers,” and far from the norm.

But what great philosopher or scientist has concluded that one has to be productive in later years? And just what does Dr. Emanuel mean by being productive? Productivity does not particularly mean that someone who is getting a bit older and slowing down has to be creative. Isn’t the idea of retirement a pathway that allows seniors to absorb the world around them in any way they choose?

If being productive means that I’m hanging out with grandkids more, reading more, reintroducing myself to old friends who go back 60 years and beyond, taking an occasional music lesson, and even trying to be a more than passible cook, then yes, just like many of my current friends, I am being quite productive.

I gazed in the mirror this week, and told myself, look you are 78. Deal with it, and maybe even relish in all the experiences and fond memories. I think it was Lucille Ball who once said: “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” I’d rather acknowledge that age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Well I don’t mind. And as I get older, I’m quick to quote Mark Twain who told his readers that wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.

I’d like to think that I still have a long life ahead because I watch what I eat, and I workout a lot. My old college roommate is quick to remind me that the big advantage of exercising and diet is that I will die a lot healthier.

Reaching a milestone of three quarters of a century should not be that big a deal. After all, 78 is really just a number, isn’t it? Like a bunch of other numbers in your life. Dates, addresses, sums, phone numbers, passwords, and then, in the mix, is age. But I hope it is more than that.I wrote a few years back, that my life has been, by any measure, full and hard living, with ups and downs too numerous to mention.

 If there is a yin and a yang, the before and the after, what has happened and what is yet to be, then maybe seventy-eight is a special way-post for me. In fact, I really believe that I could be at the top of my game, and ready for the long and relaxing ride back down.

So to the good doctor who wants to shut his life down at 75, I say that’s your call; your freedom of choice. As for me, I still have a whole lot of living to do. And not just passive living.

 Dylan Thomas said it best. “Do not go gentle into the night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.








Thursday, May 03, 2018

THE DANGERS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN LOUISIANA!


Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

THE DANGERS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN LOUISIANA!

Is medical marijuana the next Louisiana boondoggle?  The current Louisiana legislature seems bent on pushing through extended legislation that enlarges the number of medical conditions marijuana is supposed to treat. And even though the use of marijuana for any purpose, medical or recreational, is specifically prohibited under federal law, the legislature seems hell-bent on opening up the floodgates for any number of medical conditions.

Got a backache?  You qualify for some pot.  How about stress?  Get a prescription to ease your pressure with a little cannabis. And like most folks, do you have some muscle spasms? I often do after I work out. No problem according to the proposed law sailing through the legislature. Just try a little grass.

How about glaucoma?  This is a complicated disease that damages the optic nerve.  But any benefits that marijuana supposedly gives are offset by lowered blood flow that can do even more nerve damage.  Most eye doctors are against treating glaucoma with marijuana including the American Association of Ophthalmology, American Glaucoma Society, and the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Yet legislators in the Bayou State feel they can second guess the medical profession and endorse this questionable use of an untested plant.

And speaking of the medical profession, why are there not more doctors who are backing and endorsing all these supposed legitimate ways to treat a number of listed conditions?  Why hasn’t the state medical association spoken up in support?  Medicine does not seem to be driving a push for marijuana legalization. The debate has become immersed in who gets the licenses to dispense. Just like who got the riverboat gambling licenses. It’s all about politics and making money.

The state pharmacy board was charged with the job of selecting nine licensees to sell medical marijuana.  Politicians from U.S. Senators to legislators and numerous local officials, all with little or no medical background in marijuana medical benefits, weighed in to influence the selection process.  Did political clout have any bearing on who got the licenses? Well, in New Orleans the winning bid was ranked 4th by a selection committee, but the Pharmacy Board, in its wisdom, picked the lower ranked drugstore. You be the judge.

In the original medical marijuana legation passed back in 2016, the public was told that both LSU and Southern University were to be the state locations to develop the drug.  That quickly went by the wayside and now several private companies will be paid state funds to do the work the schools themselves were supposed to undertake. Again, politics and money. 

And don’t forget that marijuana use, even for medical purposes, is still illegal under federal law.  The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule 1 group of drugs lists marijuana with a high danger along with one of the highest potentials for addiction and no acceptable medical use.   Even cocaine is not listed as Schedule 1.  Why is marijuana listed as being so dangerous?  One of the main reasons is that it so addictive. Today’s pot is some 20 times more potent then the weed that was around back in the 70s.

That’s something you won’t hear on the floor of the Louisiana legislature. In fact, the addiction is just as prevalent as pot that is smoked purely for recreational reasons.  And researchers have recorded a long list of potential dangerous results including respiratory and heart related problems, mental degeneration, and possible addiction to opioids and other drugs.  A study by the JAMA Internal Medical Group concluded that marijuana users, bothmedical and recreational, are more susceptible to auto accidents because of lack of coordination, perception and judgment. 

The bottom line is that the whole range of marijuana use needs much more study, particularly as to the long-term effects that take years to properly research. When the addiction rates rise, as they most certainly will, remember that your legislators pushed this questionable drug through without requiring proper research and public safeguards.

Far from protecting the public, this dubious legislation will put many users, looking for the quick medical fix, at even more risk for other complications. The doctor’s medical oath says, “first do no harm.”  Perhaps that’s why so few doctors have endorsed this legislative effort to legalize a drug whose use has too many unanswered questions. The public deserves better.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.