Black Markets, Vaping, MMJ Prescriptions, and Huff Post

Dear Brian,
If sugar were illegal, would criminal organizations start sugar-trafficking like drug cartels?

Now that sugar is increasingly acknowledged as a major health threat, with some countries even introducing taxes against it, I thought it would be interesting to imagine what would happen if it was made illegal at some point in the future, e.g. sugar for recreational purposes (candy, chocolate bars, fizzy drinks, etc.).

Would a criminal trade start that is similar to the illegal drug trade today? If not, why?

What would make illegal drugs different from illegal sugar?

Sugar is actually subsidized by the United States government, which is why it’s so prevalent in our culture, and technically means it’s already being traded by the biggest cartel on the block: Sugar Subsidies Are a Bitter Deal for American Consumers

The deals our sugar industry have (check out the 1990 Farm Bill: Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990) pretty much raised the commodity’s price and highly regulates any imports.

Because of this, Mexican cartels already have a long-standing black market that floods the American market with illegal sugar: Hearings on illegal sugar begin today

Your hypothetical scenario is not only a reality, it’s been a reality for your entire life.

Here’s some more detailed information on American sugar policies if you’re interested:U.S. Sugar Policy

Dear Brian,
How difficult is it to get a prescription for marijuana in different states that have legalized medical marijuana?

From what I understand, in Colorado it’s relatively easy to get a prescription. I guess all you have to say is that you have trouble getting to sleep or your appetite is weak. I was just wondering about how difficult it is in the other states.

It’s as easy to get as any other prescription painkiller. I know plenty of people who go to a traditional doctor to get prescribed Oxycontin and other opiate-based painkillers. That’s as easy as going to a doctor and constantly complaining about pain until they give up and diagnose you with fibromyalgia to shut you up.

America is a heavily drugged nation, and we constantly force chemicals into our bodies to deal with life.

If you really want medical marijuana, you’ll figure it out just like any other drug.

Dear Brian,
Why does direct inhaling during vaping really hurt?

I am an ex-pack-a-day smoker (smoked reds) who recently started vaping on a Joyetech Evic VTC Mini with a 6mg Creme de la Creme: Vanilla Cream e-juice. When I try to inhale directly into my lungs like a cigarette, the vapor burns the inside of my throat… not just a little bit, but full on burning. I don’t encounter this when I do mouth-to-lung (M2L) hits since the vapor goes through my throat very quickly. Anyone else have this problem? Would like to hear some solutions.

Propylene glycol is often added to commercial ejuices, which is the chemical used in fog machines. It’s added in order to replicate that throat burn that they believe many smokers feel they need in order to “feel” the ecigarette.

Also diacetyl is used in many “buttery” and “cream” flavored ejuices, and it is known to be even more harmful than smoking: Exposures to Flavoring Chemicals

Dear Brian,
What do I do if I suspect that I am being followed on foot? How would I lose the person(s)?

If you’re being followed on foot, odds are they’re monitoring you digitally as well, unless you were just picked from the crowd (i.e. you’re walking through the wrong neighborhood and are a woman or rich-looking guy).

How to get rid of these people largely depends on who they are and why they’re following you. If it’s not something directly life-threatening, I would simply confront them – most people who are following you don’t want to make a scene about it, so the more attention you draw to it, the better off you are. Simply acknowledging that you know they’re there is often enough to scare them away, though that doesn’t mean you’re not still being monitored.

Depending on the level of people you’re dealing with, you’ll want to closely monitor your computing and internet-enabled devices. It’s also a good idea to check your car for tracking devices and your home for microphones and cameras – these can be hidden in literally anything from a light switch/light bulb to a picture frame, can of soda, etc. Look for things that are out of place – OCD is your friend when being watched.

There is a chance you’re not actually being followed and are just imagining it, but trust your instincts.

I’ve caught people following me on multiple occasions – many of them I still have no idea who they were, but I do have a general idea of why they were following me and who they could have been working for.

Once I was sitting in a parking lot smoking a cigarette in my van at night when I noticed a man was taking an unusually long time to put something in his trunk (especially in a college parking lot). He was too far away to fully see, but I stared directly at him until I realized I made eye contact and he suddenly closed the trunk and got in his car to leave. I waved, and it freaked him out to the point that he stopped and shut off his car to hide. I immediately started my car and began to chase him, at which point, he sped out of the parking lot into a crowded street at night without his headlights and left. That guy I’m almost positive worked for the Scientologists (long story) and was not the first nor last tail put on me.

By then I was sure I was being followed and freaking out, so I called my parents (my dad is retired military intelligence) to find out what my options are. My dad called the police without telling me, and they also started tailing me. I caught them at one point by continuing to go back and forth from my car and changing up my route to be much more erratic than a normal person in order to break the cycle and catch them up. I ended up finding a guy walking away from my van who made up a story about someone else messing with my van.

I pulled out my phone and started taking pictures of anyone that seemed out of place. Soon the police started amping up their undercover op following me, and I was paralyzed with fear for a moment, realizing there’s really nothing I can do if they decided to make me disappear. I got out of my van and started calling them out as loudly as possible until suddenly two squad cars appeared and a team of 5 uniformed police officers surrounded me to interrogate me.

I lived to tell these stories because I don’t carry weapons and was not seen as a threat, despite my seemingly erratic behavior. Confronting my stalkers wasn’t ever easy, but each time it seemed to scare them more than me, as they’re not really used to people breaking the fourth wall of their monitoring.

Of course this was before Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed the vast nature of monitoring programs available these days and I realized although they had boots on the ground, it’s online where they’re really tracking your every move and can predict your behavior better than even you can.

Dear Brian,
I see a lot of people with a little feather and ink bottle by their name on Quora. It says “Published in Huffington Post” How does that happen? How do you submit an article?

I have no grand illusion of being published. I am just curious about how you do it.

Media outlets (especially of the Internet kind) spend a LOT of time on social media. In fact, you would be surprised at how many interns (and paid journalists) spend their work day just “playing” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Quora, and even Tinder.

Just like in any other sector, “going pro” on a site like Quora can be achieved in one of two ways:

1) Write extraordinary answers and find clever ways to invite someone who writes for HuffPost (there are literally thousands). This is the tactic you’ll see in movies when a talent scout heads to the farm leagues to “discover” new raw talent.

2) Send any answer you feel is spectacular directly to a HuffPost writer you think would enjoy it. This is equivalent to the record business tactic of being “discovered” by just constantly sending in your demo (or just breaking into someone’s car and putting your album in their radio like rapper Saigon did in the Entourage series).

Though you should know that being published in one of these places is basically 15 minutes of fame and it won’t make you a household name. To illustrate this, think of your own perspective – have you heard of any of those Quorans whose answers are featured in HuffPost? Have you ever even read an article on HuffPost that came from Quora?

On the Huffington Post side, Quora answers are clearly labeled as having come from Quora, and they farm content from sites like this in order to consistently keep a large volume of updated content on their site, therefore moving large volumes of traffic and bringing in large volumes of advertising money.

The tag “published in Huffington Post” is about as impressive as the tag “most viewed writer.” On Twitter, it’s the equivalent of having your tweet read on The Tonight Show or @Midnight by using their hashtags at the right time.

I have an entire page on Huffington Post of links to my content on the Huffington Post, and you’ve never heard of me: Brian Penny

More than anything, it’s luck of the draw. Even with 1000 people scouring every corner of social media they can think of, they’ll still not catch all the content. Hell, the NSA can’t even keep up with it all, so they archive everything and make it searchable instead.

You wouldn’t grab the attention of a law enforcement agency using the NSA’s databases unless you either happened to be talking about bombs an hour before a bomb coincidentally went off in your city or you were someone who actually builds bombs.

So, in short, if you want to be noticed by the Huffington Post and not the NSA, write insightful answers about anything nonviolent and promote yourself.

Brian Penny FishbowlBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in Hardcore Droid, High Times, Huffington Post, Fast Company, DumbLittleMan, and MindBodyGreen.

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Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

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