Monthly Archives: May 2016

Just legalized marijuana

Recreational marijuana won big at the polls on Tuesday, with California, Massachusetts, and Nevada approving those laws and Maine’s measure leaning toward yes, tripling the US population living in pot-friendly states.

The laws allow adults to grow, consume, and give away marijuana — but the patchwork of laws and marijuana’s federal status mean that it can be tricky to stay on the right side of the law.

So if your state has recently given the green light to light up, here are a few things you should know:

1. Cannabis on campus

Because most colleges get federal money, and pot is still illegal under federal law, universities — private and public — will probably prohibit you from using pot anywhere on campus. Washington State University wrote a very direct post on its website in 2012 when recreational marijuana was legalized for individuals 21 and older. “What will change on campus?” it asks. “Essentially nothing.” University policies there and at other schools prohibiting marijuana remain in place.

Read more: Marijuana and soda taxes win big, but cigarette taxes fail in several state votes

2. Riding shotgun

Driving under the influence is and will remain legal, but if you’re a passenger, it’s a little more complicated. In California, possessing “an open package of marijuana or marijuana products” is a no-no for drivers and passengers alike. But cross eastward into Arizona, and it’s OK to open the package — just not to eat or smoke it. Driver further into Nevada, and whoever is riding shotgun can consume to their heart’s delight, as long as the driver stays clear-headed.

Massachusetts’s law has an oddity — while possessing an open container of marijuana products in motorized vehicles is prohibited in general, it’s OK to have open containers in “the area behind the last upright seat or an area not normally occupied by the driver or passenger.” So if you can manage to cram yourself into the trunk of a minivan, you might be able to reward yourself with a pot brownie.

3. Workplace testing

In all the states who voted yes, you’re free to smoke marijuana at home, but if your employer finds out about it, it can use that as a reason to fire you or deny you a job, since marijuana is still illegal under federal law. This conflict between state and federal laws has led to would-be employees suing their would-be employers who denied them jobs because they use medical marijuana. The new laws do little if anything to help employers navigate the situation — except in Maine.

Trump kill Obamacare

President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican Congress will have the votes to roll back huge swaths of the Affordable Care Act next year, which they have both pledged to do.

It’s impossible to know exactly what form the GOP’s health care platform will take. Trump released a health care plan during the campaign, while Republican leaders have been working on an Obamacare replacement for the last few years, as various legal threats put the law’s future in jeopardy.

Promising to repeal the most sweeping overhaul of the US health care system in a generation is one thing. But how? Here are three questions Republicans will have to answer.

What happens to the people covered by the ACA?

Upwards of 20 million people have gotten insurance coverage under the law, through private insurance purchased on its marketplaces, the expansion of Medicaid, and various provisions like the one that allows children to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26. The nation’s uninsured rate is at a historic low.

The biggest question Trump and Republican leaders will face is what to do with them.

If the new government repeals the law’s marketplaces and the tax subsidies provided to help people pay for insurance, a substantial number of people would likely lose coverage. Republicans have long wanted to turn Medicaid into a block grant program, with each state receiving a fixed dollar amount and more freedom to structure the program to its liking, and many estimates believe that would also lead to reduced coverage.

What about the parts people actually like?

The requirement that people buy health coverage or face a fine is widely loathed, but many other parts of Obamacare are popular. People like being able to keep their kids on their insurance until they turn 26. They like that insurance companies can’t discriminate against people because of their health history. They like free preventive care and contraception.

Republican leaders have previously acknowledged that parts of the law are likely here to stay. Replacement plans worked up by House Speaker Paul Ryan have, for example, maintained the age-26 provision.

But after years of promising to repeal the law word for word, the GOP will have to figure out how to navigate the popular policies that have become embedded in the health care system since 2010.

How do Republicans make the health care system their own?

Obamacare had more layers than the political debate would lead you to believe. It changed how Medicare paid for hospital care. It created a public health fundintended for programs that would focus on preventing health problems instead of treating them. It established a federal agency designed to test new ways of delivering health care, which the Obama administration has used ambitiously (too ambitiously, according to some).

Republicans will now have their own chance to shape the health care landscape to their liking. They’ve been talking for a long time about allowing insurance to be sold across state lines or shoring up high-risk pools so sick people are still able to get some kind of coverage. They want to expand the use of health savings accounts and change how the tax code treats health insurance.

Ramp up your metabolism

Metabolism is the body’s process of converting food into energy to run its cellular processes. Energy is needed for both voluntary actions (like walking, running, biking, even eating and drinking) and involuntary actions (like breathing, blood circulation, and cell growth).

The amount of calories required for the involuntary processes in a body at rest is called the basal metabolic rate, and it accounts for around 70 percent of our daily caloric expenditures. The BMR varies for each person based on sex, age, genetics, and physical stature; people with more muscle or larger builds typically require a higher BMR to maintain a healthy weight. The remaining 30 percent of calories are burned through the thermic effect of food, which involves not only our obvious physical activities but also the process or digesting, absorbing, and transporting food through the body.

In order to boost our metabolism, we need “active foods” like fiber-rich whole grains, and lean proteins — things that will cause your body to expend more energy to process and store the calories through a process known as dietary-induced thermogenesis. Many dieters believe that dropping their caloric intake is the key to weight loss, but the body is highly adaptable; the body will actually slow down its metabolic rate to compensate for a decrease in calories. Therefore, in order to lose weight, you need to consume foods that require more energy to process.

Brown Rice

The body needs to expend more energy to break down a fiber-rich food like brown rice than it does a refined carbohydrate like white bread. Brown rice contains both insoluble fiber, which moves material through the digestive track, and soluble fiber, which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates.


Drinking coffee can help you lose weight. A study showed that after drinking fully caffeinated coffee, both people who were obese and people who were an average weight experience an increase in metabolic rate. Unfortunately, our bodies can develop a tolerance to the metabolism-boosting effects of caffeine, so the long-term weight loss capabilities of coffee are still questionable.

Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are by no means a healthy beverage, They’re loaded with sugar — but their content of caffeine and taurine (an acid essential for cardiovascular health and muscle development) can help speed up metabolism and melt away fat. Studies show that after caffeine consumption, subjects’ metabolic rate increased by between 3 and 11 percent. However, similar to coffee, the metabolism-boosting effects diminish if you develop a tolerance to caffeine.