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Dispensing medical marijuana

Aari Ruben is an advocate for marijuana legalization, drug policy reform and human rights. Ruben is the director and owner of Desert Bloom Re-Leaf Center.

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Dispensing Medical Marijuana

Cannabis is a medicinal plant, an herbal remedy to relieve symptoms or treat various diseases. In some U.S. states, marijuana is legal for treating specific health problems, but not at the federal level.Prior to opening the dispensary, Ruben worked as an administrator for a pain management and mental health clinic that treated people with opioids. “My experience was that those medicines create dependence and addictive behaviors in a large number of people. Patients get on opiates because of some type of injury or operation. They’re on well controlled prescribed amounts of opiates, and through the course of treatment those doses are increased because of their developing a tolerance and needing more medication to achieve the desired analgesic effect. And you know, at some point, the doctor has a responsibility to the patient and to the system that exists and that patients tend to get cut off or not allowed to increase their dose further, and that’s when problems start to arise. The medications themselves are extremely effective. We absolutely need them for surgery and for immediate emergent situations. However, they don’t seem to be a good alternative for most individuals for long term use. The toxic effects seem to outweigh the benefits.”  California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996. Since then, more than half of U.S. states have done so. Ruben says support continues to increase in the United States for the legalization of cannabis. “There’s more support for the legalization of marijuana than there has ever been. The last time that we were close to this amount of the voting populace in support was in the mid-70s. And we’ve surpassed the amount of people that support legalization of marijuana. The support for medical uses is at an all-time high, and I believe to be in the 80 or 90 percent range in terms of adults that support people having safe legal access to medical marijuana for reasonable medical use,” says Ruben.  Although the federal government hasn’t given its approval to marijuana for medicinal use, it has signed off on three related compounds (cannabinoid, dronabinol or nabilone) as specific treatments. Ruben says new customers may come to his shop with very little information from their physician. And prescribing the best treatment for customers can be trial and error, but he says cannabis has a high safety profile.  “We experiment and do our trial and error process with individuals with a high degree of security and confidence that nothing bad is going to happen to them, that we can navigate that safely and find what works for them, and use that information then to help others with similar circumstances. And so that to me is fascinating and one of the most interesting parts of my job, matching up the right plants with the right people, which happens organically over time.” 

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Beauty on the Wing

Butterfly Wonderland is the largest conservatory in the country. Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, more than 70 species of butterflies can be found there in 3,000 square feet there in 3,000 square meters of tropical paradise in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.

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For Indian Immigrant, Dance is a Religion

Minnesota-based Ragamala Dance Company has educated, performed and evolved for over 25 years. Ranee Ragamala and her daughters Aparna and Ashwini are trained in the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam. Their performances capture an intercultural and multidisciplinary form of dance.

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Ragamala Dance Company: Beauty Through Mastery of Technique

Minnesota-based Ragamala Dance Company has educated, performed and evolved for over 25 years. Ranee Ragamala and her daughters Aparna and Ashwini are trained in the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam. Their performances capture an intercultural and multidisciplinary form of dance.

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Presidential Memorabilia at Its Best

Jim Warlick is the master of presidential memorabilia, trinkets and novelties. Owner of the souvenir store White House Gifts in Washington, D.C. Warlick’s company describes its mission as offering a “nonpartisan tribute to Presidential history.”

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It’s All About Presidential Memorabilia

 Jim Warlick is a collector of political memorabilia, and the owner of White House Gifts, a souvenir store in Washington located across from the White House.  As many as 3,000 people a day visit the store to purchase presidential memorabilia, trinkets and other gifts.  Warlick’s father, a Democrat and a history buff, worked in politics, and in 1965, the family took a trip to the nation’s capital.  “I was in the eighth grade and I wanted to come see John Kennedy’s grave site. While I was here, I purchased a little John Kennedy bust. It’s the symbol of my first souvenir and I think that the Kennedy assassination really affected me into being aware of politics.” Warlick grew up in a little town in North Carolina called Morgantown. He went to community college there then went to the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He dropped out of college four times to work on campaigns and travel with candidates. “I went to Raleigh and got a job in the legislature working on a Senate Sergeant at Arms staff while I was in school, and I really like this fellow from Greensboro North Carolina who’d been chairman the first Civil Rights Commission, very progressive. And he decided to run for the Senate against Jesse Helms. And so, he asked me to come help in the campaign, and I lived with the Senator Smith and his family for a year,” he says.  “We didn’t stay in hotels when traveling, we stayed with people, because we wanted to hear what people in the community was saying. I learned from Senator Smith that you need to stay close and listen a lot.” Warlick says he believed that he would end up being an advisor for a congressman or senator, but that didn’t happen. In 1980, Warlick designed campaign buttons for President Jimmy Carter. Though he knew there was also a market for buttons for Carter’s opponent, Ronald Reagan, Warlick wouldn’t produce them. “I’m a Carter man,” he said. “I went to the Republican convention in Detroit and sold campaign buttons on the street corner, making more money in one week than I did in a year working for the congressman,” says Jim Warlick. “So, I went back home and I said, ‘Congressman, I have to quit, because I’m traveling and seeing the country, and I want to sell buttons all over the country.’”
The Worker’s Legacy Exhibition video player.
Embed” />CopyThe Worker’s Legacy Exhibition Project “The most important thing left for me to do now is a history museum dedicated to honoring mill workers, furniture workers, hosiery mill and textile workers. My mother worked in the hosiery mill. Named ‘The Worker’s Legacy Exhibition,’ it is going to tell the history of all the workers and what their life was like back then.”