(NaturalNews) The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has issued its annual list of new laws that will go into effect in various states around the country on Jan. 1, 2012. In this list are five specific pieces of legislation that place new restrictions on food, medicine, and health freedom.
According to NCSL, there were nearly 40,000 new laws enacted during 2011, and many more are likely on the agenda for 2012. And the five issues presented here are merely those that will take effect specifically on New Year's Day in 2012. There are hundreds, if not thousands, more that will take effect between January 2, 2012 and December 31, 2012.
1) Synthetic cannabinoids added to controlled substances list in California
Though they are not natural by any means, synthetic cannabinoids such as "K2" and "Spice" have been added to the controlled substances list in California under the not-so-coincidentally named Senate Bill No. 420. These marijuana copycat substances, which contain a synthetic cannabinoid known as JWH-018, mimic the effects of THC when smoked.
SB 420 makes it a misdemeanor to sell, dispense or distribute any synthetic cannabinoid compound in California. At least 40 other US states have already passed similar laws in previous years (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen...).
However, synthetic cannabinoids are sold primarily as incense, and placing government restrictions on their sale when far more dangerous substances marketed specifically as drugs are permitted to freely pervade the marketplace is just another example of the hypocrisy of the so-called "War on Drugs" which, as we recently exposed, is a complete hoax (http://www.naturalnews.com/034289_Afghanista...).
2) California bans beer that contains added caffeine
Bartenders have been mixing liquor and caffeinated beverages together since time immemorial, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) no longer approves of this, at least not when it is beer and caffeine that are mixed. And the state of California, following the lead of at least half a dozen other states, has banned the import, production, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of any beer products that contain caffeine (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen...).
The FDA alleges that mixing beer with caffeine is a public health threat, and that it can lead to binge drinking and other dangerous behavior. The agency even issued warning letters to several manufacturers of caffeinated beer beverages warning them to either reformulate their products or pull them from store shelves, or else face potential seizure (http://www.csnews.com/top-story-phusion_proj...).
Once again, NaturalNews does not necessarily endorse caffeinated beer beverages, but state legislatures that pass laws banning their production and sale based on very flimsy evidence of public health concerns are a threat to food freedom in general, as such arbitrary decision-making can, and likely will, affect other products that are valued by the natural health community.
3) California restricts non-prescription cough medicines to individuals 18 and over
Another new law to take effect in California on Jan. 1 will prohibit any person or retail distributor from knowingly supplying a drug or substance containing any quantity of dextromethorphan, or DXM, to a person under 18 without a prescription. DXM is an active ingredient in cough suppressants that regulators say is often used as a recreational drug (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen...).
Abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing DXM has been escalating over the years, as many users are buying the medicine simply to get "high" off of it. According to available data, DXM sent 8,000 people to the emergency room in 2008, which is more than twice the number sent in 2004 (http://www.naturalnews.com/029643_cough_medi...).
Based on the amount of harm DXM has caused to individuals compared to, say, synthetic cannabinoids, you would think state lawmakers would ban it instead, or at least make it available by prescription only, as some have previously suggested. Instead, lawmakers have just made it a little bit harder to obtain, while focusing their heavy regulatory energy on less-deadly substances.
4) California and Oregon ban sale, possession of shark fins
Two new laws in Oregon and California prohibit the possession, sale, trade or distribution of shark fins, according to NCSL. The California law specifies that a person must hold a license in order to possess shark fins for scientific purposes, which means that individuals can no longer purchase shark fins for either food or medicine (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm...).
However, shark fin is considered a food delicacy in some Asian cultures, and shark fin cartilage possesses a number of medicinal properties that make it a valuable tool in traditional and natural medicine protocols. Shark fin soup, which is how most people probably know about shark fin, is considered by many to be a medicinal tonic in and of itself -- a single bowl of it can fetch as much as $100 in some places!
The new restrictions cite animal abuse, gruesome deaths, and potential extinction of certain shark species as reasons why possession and sale of shark fin will no longer be tolerated in the two Pacific states, and these concerns are valid. But what the laws fail to address is the fact that inhumane fishing practices that use drift gill nets and long liners, for instance, to sweep sea creatures from ocean waters inadvertently kill thousands of sharks in the process, regardless of whether or not they are being intentionally hunted for their fins.
NaturalNews in no way supports animal abuse, or the destructive and inhumane fishing practices that kill sharks and other sea creatures. But banning shark fins in this manner does nothing to protect sharks, as those killed during such fishing sweeps will have to be returned to the water anyway, fin and all -- and many shark fins on the market today come from these already-dead sharks.
In other words, if lawmakers really want to protect sharks, they would do better to reevaluate the inhumane fishing practices that are responsible for killing most of them in the first place, the stocks from which many fisherman simply take the fins that people consume and use for medicine around the world today.
5) Unfounded superstition about the 'dangers' of tanning beds leads California lawmakers to restrict their use by individuals under 18
The federal government is currently complicit in a propaganda campaign designed to scare people from using tanning beds which, when used properly, can actually provide incredible health benefits. And some states are taking the bait, as California has banned the use of any "ultraviolet tanning device" among individuals under 18 years of age (http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_...).
This absolutely absurd restriction has no basis in science, but is instead founded upon the unsubstantiated notion that ultraviolet rays cause cancer and should be avoided. But instead of letting individuals make their own health decisions concerning exposure to ultraviolet rays, California lawmakers are deciding for them, at least for all those who are not legally considered to be adults.
On the other hand, NaturalNews, the Vitamin D Council, and various other groups recognize the benefits of tanning beds as a useful tool in achieving optimal levels of vitamin D, particularly when natural sunlight exposure is not enough. Numerous studies, including a recent one out of Norway (http://www.naturalnews.com/034111_tanning_be...), have also confirmed that, when used properly, tanning beds are a great way to spur optimal vitamin D production in the skin, which in turn provides a host of health benefits (http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-condit...).
But the California state government is apparently unconcerned with science, or the truth about ultraviolet rays and vitamin D, and has instead decided to simply outlaw the use of tanning beds because they could be dangerous Based on the open-ended wording of the legislation, this appears to include even the use of tanning beds at home!
Each of these examples is just a sampling, of course, of what the government has in store for us in 2012. Whether or not you agree with the passage of each of these bills, there is no denying that a lot of change is taking place that involves the government seizing a lot more control over our lives. So stay tuned as we keep you abreast of future developments going into the new year.