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US: Driving High Questioned On Busy Day By Lawmakers

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:00
The News-Item, 01 Aug 2014 - WASHINGTON (AP) - Amid rancorous debate over other weighty issues Thursday on Capitol Hill, lawmakers wondered aloud whether driving cars after smoking marijuana is dangerous. Among the unanswered questions: Would drivers who are "high" travel too fast or too slow for safety? Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican who convened the Transportation subcommittee hearing, said he's concerned that growing numbers of drivers on U.S. roadways are increasingly impaired with a mix of drugs and alcohol. But with no test to determine if a driver is high on THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, it's nearly impossible to gauge the danger. Instead, he said, it's only after a fatal crash that investigators can determine if a driver has measurable levels of THC in his bloodstream.
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US IL: Column: Medical Pot Shops Are No Big Deal

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:00
Chicago Tribune, 01 Aug 2014 - You'd think licensed dispensaries for medical marijuana were all-ages opium dens from the wariness bordering on paranoia with which state and local officials are grudgingly preparing for them to open. A year ago Friday, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a four-year pilot program allowing patients suffering from specific maladies to obtain, with a doctor's OK, therapeutic doses of marijuana. The marijuana will be sold at dispensaries accessible only to patients.
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US NM: Editorial: Petition Blunder Warrants Refresher Course

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:00
Albuquerque Journal, 01 Aug 2014 - This screw-up is enough to make one wonder: What were they smoking? When it came to calculating the number of valid petition signatures needed to ask Albuquerque voters if they want to reduce penalties in the city for possessing small amounts of marijuana, the numbers didn't add up. And no one caught it until it was too late. The City Clerk's Office miscalculated the number and the Legal Department approved it. Petitioners didn't question it or do the math themselves.
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US WA: Pot Smoking Tickets Issued Unevenly

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:00
Spokesman-Review, 01 Aug 2014 - SEATTLE - Yes, you can buy pot. You can smoke pot. You can possess pot here in the Evergreen State. You just can't do those things in public, smelling up parks and annoying pedestrians. If you're caught, the police will write you a ticket. Especially if you're black. Or homeless. And have the bad judgment to light up in the downtown core. And the bad luck to come upon one police officer in particular.
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US CA: Editorial: The Medical Marijuana Mess

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:00
Los Angeles Times, 01 Aug 2014 - Nearly two decades after California voters legalized medical marijuana, legislators are as close as they've ever been to passing the first comprehensive statewide regulations for the cultivation, transportation and distribution of the drug. This is long past due. State leaders should not let another year go by without fixing the medical marijuana mess. And it is a mess. The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 encouraged state leaders to implement a plan to regulate safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to patients. But they were late to act and then developed ineffective guidelines. As a result, California has a patchwork of local rules governing dispensaries, but virtually no regulations on how marijuana is grown or processed, and few consumer protections for a product that, ostensibly, is for sick people.
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US PA: Editorial: Police Thyself

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:00
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 01 Aug 2014 - The bad-apple cliche regularly deployed in police corruption cases falls well short of this week's federal indictments of six former members of Philadelphia's narcotics unit on charges ranging from stealing drugs and cash to brutalizing suspects - including not one but two who were dangled off balconies. When multiple officers face such serious accusations, and not for the first time in the force's history, it raises questions about the whole orchard. An arbitrator's award announced Thursday gives Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey long-sought authority to rotate officers out of the narcotics and internal affairs units, which could help prevent entrenched corruption. Union boss John McNesby, who opposed the change, noted that most of the 200 officers in the drug unit do good work. For the sake of their reputations, he should encourage reform instead of obstructing it.
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US CA: County To Reconsider Marijuana Letter Policy

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:00
Calaveras Enterprise, 01 Aug 2014 - A Calaveras County Public Health Department manager says her agency will work out a way to allow applicants for medical marijuana ID cards to retain the original copy of their doctor recommendation. Some medical marijuana advocates complained this year when the department began keeping the originals, something patients said caused problems later when they went to dispensaries.
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US FL: OPED: Voters Must Know The Facts About Medical Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:00
The Palm Beach Post, 01 Aug 2014 - Despite polls showing that eight out of ten Floridians are for it, one of the most controversial and talked about issues this November election is medical marijuana. This is my first time saying this in a public forum but here it is: I'm for it too. I, like most voters, believe that if a doctor recommends a course of treatment to a patient -- whether it's an exercise regime, a multivitamin, a new diet, or marijuana -- that patient should be able to follow their doctors orders without having to fear being arrested. Period.
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CN AB: City Cracking Down On Sale Of Pipes, Marijuana Paraphernalia

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:00
Leduc Representative, 01 Aug 2014 - Selling items like pipes, bongs and grinders is going to be more difficult in Leduc, if a new bylaw has its desired affect. On June 23, city council passed Bylaw 861-2014, which amended Leduc's business licensing regulations to restrict selling drug-related merchandise and paraphernalia.
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Chronicle AM -- July 31, 2014

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 20:24

One study finds that Colorado is doing just fine with marijuana legalization, another finds that kids aren't smoking more pot in medical marijuana states, there's trouble in Albuquerque, Detroit police go on yet another well-publicized mass drug sweep, Marc Emery vows revenge, and more. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Brookings Institution Report Finds Colorado's Legalization is Succeeding. The Brookings Institution's Center for Effective Public Management today released a report on how well Colorado is managing marijuana legalization. The title of the report, "Colorado's Rollout of Legal Marijuana is Succeeding," pretty much spells it out. "The state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy," according to the report authored by John Hudak, a Brookings fellow in Governance Studies. "In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state." Click on the link to read the full report.

Georgia Libertarian Party Endorses Marijuana Legalization. The Libertarian Party of Georgia says "legalize it." In a Wednesday press release, the party came out four-square for legalization. "Georgia voters should be allowed to vote on the issue", said state party chair Doug Craig. "If the voters were allowed to vote we believe they would vote to legalize. Rights should never be determined by popular vote, but polling gives us a good indication on where the public stands on the issue. As Libertarians, we support giving the public the freedom to choose. Lawmakers should study the issue and allow public input into forming a better policy that stops treating otherwise law abiding citizens as criminals."

Albuquerque Decriminalization Initiative Up in the Air After City Messes Up Signature Requirements. What a mess! The city of Albuquerque told initiative organizers they needed 11,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot, so to ensure that they had a comfortable cushion, organizers turned in 16,000 signatures. Then, two days after signatures were handed in, the city said it had made a mistake, and organizers needed 14,000 signatures to qualify. The measure could still qualify, but if it comes up with more than 11,000 valid signatures, but less than the 14,000 needed to make the ballot, look for legal action.

East Lansing, Michigan, Decriminalization Initiative Campaign Turns in Signatures. The Coalition for a Safer East Lansing turned in about 2,300 signatures for its decriminalization initiative Tuesday. If they end up with enough valid signatures to qualify, the measure will go on the ballot in November. Similar efforts are afoot in more than a dozen other Michigan towns and cities.

Medical Marijuana

National Bureau of Economic Research Report Finds Medical Marijuana Has Not Led to More Teen Use. The finding comes in the working paper Medical Marijuana Laws and Teen Marijuana Use. "Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students. In fact, estimates from our preferred specification are small, consistently negative, and are never statistically distinguishable from zero," the authors said.

Drug Policy

Broad Coalition Forms to Highlight Plight of Drug War's Youngest Victims. More than 80 civil rights, immigration, criminal justice, racial justice, human rights, libertarian and religious organizations are joined by notable figures such as Michelle Alexander in calling for an end to the war on drugs in the name of protecting children both in Latin America and here in the United States. They have all signed on to a letter of support for new policies. The signatories -- which include the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Center for Constitutional Rights, Institute of the Black World,, Students for Liberty, United We Dream, William C. Velasquez Institute, and the Working Families Organization -- are notable for their diversity in cause and focus, yet have come together around the issue of the drug war's impact on youth, at home and abroad. Click here for a full list of supporters.

Law Enforcement

Detroit Police in Yet Another Militarized Drug Blitz. In the latest in a series of mass raids under the rubric of "Operation Restore Order," heavily armored Detroit Police SWAT teams and other officers targeted the Ninth Precinct on the city's east side today. More than a hundred police were involved. The first house they hit had no drugs, the second contained some weapons and drug paraphernalia, the third resulted in the seizure of a couple dozen crack rocks.

One Seattle Police Officer Wrote 80% of Marijuana Tickets; Now, He's Off the Streets. One police officer who apparently doesn't think much of Washington's marijuana legalization law -- he wrote snide remarks on some of the tickets -- is responsible for a whopping 80% of all public pot smoking tickets written by the Seattle Police in the last six months. In one instance, Officer Randy Jokela used a coin toss to decide whom he would cite. He has been assigned to other duties while the department's Office of Professional Accountability investigates.


Marc Emery Vows Political Revenge on Canadian Conservatives. Out of prison in the US, but still stuck in an American deportation center awaiting his return to Canada, "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery is vowing political revenge on Canada's Conservatives. He has served nearly five years in federal prison for selling marijuana seeds after the Conservatives allowed him to be extradited from Canada. "My own government betrayed me and I'm going to wreak an appropriate amount of political revenge when I get home and campaign against the Conservative government," Emery said. "The whole thing is nonsense. I should never have been turned over to the US government," said the fervent Liberal supporter. Canadian elections are next year.

(This article was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

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US FL: Column: Support For Marijuana Will Influence Elections

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:00
Sun-Sentinel, 31 Jul 2014 - Forget about Rick Scott and Charlie Crist duking it out over who makes the better governor. It's the fight over marijuana legalization that serves as the backdrop for the elections in Florida this fall. With polls showing more than 60 percent of voters support the legalization of medical marijuana, Florida may soon venture into the weeds by joining 23 other states and the District of Columbia in passing laws that make different varieties of pot partially legal.
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US NY: Cuomo Seeks Fast Track For Medical Pot

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:00
Buffalo News, 31 Jul 2014 - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday asked the state Health Department to expedite availability of medical marijuana for children suffering from epilepsy. His action was met with approval by Wendy Conte, whose daughter, Anna, 9, of Orchard Park, died 12 days after the governor signed the Compassionate Care Act into law July 5. That made New York the 23rd state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
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US CO: Column: The Myth Of Super Pot

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:00
Boulder Weekly, 31 Jul 2014 - It's not your grandfather's pot," I keep hearing. Every time I attend a forum or turn on the TV or the Internet, there's somebody saying that today's marijuana is fearfully strong and therefore much more dangerous than it used to be. "Studies reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years," it says right on www., citing studies that suggest that today's marijuana has much more THC, the cannabinoid that gives users the "high" they seek and that prohibitionists seem to dread most. High Times magazine's annual rundown of the world's most potent cannabis this year were all certified and lab tested at more than 23 percent THC. So is it more potent? Probably so. The cannabis people smoked back in the 1970s that came from Mexico and Columbia was strong enough - why would so many millions of people risk using it illegally if it wasn't at least somewhat potent? But it's not hard to understand why commercial strains today, grown under more favorable conditions and hybridized specifically to create higher THC levels, would be considered stronger.
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US MA: Editorial: Our View: Debate On Marijuana Prohibition Needs

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:00
Standard-Times, 31 Jul 2014 - A look at the White House response to the New York Times' editorial advocacy for an end to the prohibition of marijuana is encouraging, but not for the reasons the federal government would hope. Its defense of prohibition is so shallow and evasive that it suggests the arguments are being undermined by reality, and might someday soon lead to the end of the socially and financially disastrous War on Drugs. The White House's rebuttal of the New York Times editorial says: "The Obama Administration continues to oppose legalization of marijuana and other illegal drugs because it flies in the face of a public health approach to reducing drug use and its consequences." The federal government's default setting is that any use of marijuana is bad. How in the name of fair, honest debate can our government adopt that position when our country is awash in alcohol? Alcohol is not an illegal drug, but where is the public health approach for a legal drug that the White House admits has a cost 15 times higher than the tax revenue it raises? Likewise, it points out that marijuana is the most frequently found illicit drug involved in car accidents. One more time: What about alcohol?
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Canada: Nearly 75,000 Canadians Were Busted For Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:00
The Georgia Straight, 31 Jul 2014 - NEW DATA FROM Statistics Canada reveals that last year almost 59,000 Canadians found themselves in trouble with the law for the simple possession of marijuana. That marks a 28-percent increase in the rate (per 100,000) at which Canadians were charged with possession compared to 2003.
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US IL: Column: Americans Learn To Undo Government Errors

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:00
Chicago Tribune, 31 Jul 2014 - On Marijuana, Gay Marriage And More Newspaper editorials rarely make news - I've been writing them for a long time, and, believe me, I know - but one did the other day, when The New York Times came out for legalization of marijuana. It was an agreeable development for anyone who, like me, believes in letting people live their own lives even if they do it badly. But its significance is much bigger than that.
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CN ON: Fantino Pot Flyer Riles Top Liberal

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:00
Vaughan Citizen, 31 Jul 2014 - Subtle it's not. The flyer that landed in Vaughan mailboxes Wednesday claims Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has gone to pot - and said he wants young people to go there, too. "The Liberal Agenda: Sell Pot! In local stores", shows a young teen lighting up a joint with Trudeau's smiling mug and a marijuana leaf in the background.
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Marijuana Industry Steps Up on Edibles, Retailing

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 22:45

Faced with growing concern about the use of marijuana "edibles" (food products containing marijuana) and taking preemptive steps toward industry self-education and self-regulation, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) announced Wednesday that it is launching training courses for edibles makers and "budtenders," or retail sales people.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]"The interest in edibles and other infused products keeps growing," said NCIA deputy director Taylor West. "We know our industry is under a microscope, and we want to make sure cannabis product-makers continue developing the highest quality and safest products possible."

But it's not just interest in edibles that's growing. Edibles have been behind some of the biggest scare stories to come out of Colorado, including the case of the African student who plunged to his death after eating a marijuana cookie and the case of the man who shot and killed his wife hours after ingesting edibles, not to mention the now infamous Maureen Dowd column in which the New York Times columnist ate an entire marijuana candy bar and got way too high.

Much of the news coverage has omitted the fact that the man also had taken prescription pain pills, raising the question of whether a drug interaction may have produced the violent behavior, according to MSNBC. The article also pointed out that Colorado sees an average of two alcohol-related deaths each week. But there is legitimate concern over how best to handle edible marijuana, the rareness of such incidents notwithstanding.

That concern extended to the state legislature, which quickly passed House Bill 1366 regulating edible sales earlier this year. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed that bill into law in May.

The NCIA is addressing those concerns with, among other things, a ServSafe Food Safety Basics Course designed just for marijuana industry professionals. Based on a curriculum originally developed by the National Restaurant Association, the course will teach participants about the significance of foodborne illness, proper personal hygiene, time and temperature control, how to prevent cross-contamination, cleaning, sanitizing and emergency procedures, and more.

It also offering up a Sell-SMaRT Responsible Cannabis Vendor course that will teach marijuana dispensary employees, or "budtenders," responsible selling practices, such as how to check ID, educate customers about responsible consumption, and handle tricky situations.

These courses are developed and facilitated by Maureen McNamara, founder of Cannabis Trainer, an NCIA member business. McNamara has been teaching the ServSafe course to traditional food industry professionals for the last 18 years, but this will be her first course geared solely for makers of marijuana edibles. She will also be working with the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division to design the Responsible Cannabis Vendor Program this year.

"This is a great example of how the industry is self-regulating to make marijuana-infused products as safe as possible for consumers," said Art Way, director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)'s Colorado office. "We applaud NCIA for taking this important step forward."

For more information about the training programs, including time, date, location, and cost, click here.

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Medical Marijuana Update

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 22:00

A pair of federal bills get filed, California's medical marijuana wars continue, Florida looks set to pass medical marijuana this fall, pressure is rising for New York to get its program up and running, and more. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:right]National

Last Thursday, US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) filed a medical marijuana amendment to Senate Bill 2569, the "Bring Jobs Home Act." It would explicitly allow states to pass medical marijuana laws despite the provisions of the federal Controlled Substances Act. The amendment would also bar prosecutions of patients and doctors for engaging in medical marijuana activities in states where it is legal.

On Monday, a Pennsylvania Republican filed a bill to allow low-THC, high-CBD medical marijuana. Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) introduced a bill that would exempt low-THC, high-CBD marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act. The bill is the Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act (House Resolution 5226).


On Tuesday, a fired University of Arizona medical marijuana researcher lost her appeal. Dr. Sue Sisley, the University of Arizona researcher whose pending study of medical marijuana to treat PTSD among veterans was halted when she was fired last month, has lost an appeal to regain her job. Sisley is now looking for a new academic home to pursue the research.


On Tuesday, police in Redding raided the Planet Herb Collective. They arrested two women running the collective, which they said was operating in violation of a local ordinance banning them. The two women face charges of criminal conspiracy and sale of marijuana.

Also on Tuesday, the Cathedral City council voted to permit dispensaries. The council voted 3-2 to allow three dispensaries to open. Cathedral City becomes the second Coachella Valley community to allow dispensaries; Palm Springs is the other.

Also on Tuesday, Riverside County supervisors voted to approve draft regulations penalizing medical marijuana grows. People growing fewer than a dozen plants in unincorporated areas of the county would be charged with an infraction and hit with fines, while people growing more than 12 plants would face a misdemeanor charge and six months in jail.


On Monday, a Quinnipiac University poll found overwhelming support for medical marijuana. The poll had support at 88%. Floridians will vote on a medical marijuana initiative in November.


Last Thursday, the state named a medical marijuana director. The state Department of Health has named department employee Michelle Larson the first-ever director of the Office of Medical Cannabis. She is charged with managing the office's staff and creating and implementing administrative policies for things like an application process for a manufacturer and a patient registry. The state's law limits medical marijuana to eight specified diseases or conditions and does not allow for the use of smoked marijuana.

New York

Last Thursday, a poster child for medical marijuana died without her medicine. Nine-year-old Anna Conte, whose family has been at the center of the Empire State medical marijuana debate, has died without ever gaining access to marijuana medicines that may have alleviated her condition. Conte suffered from Dravet Syndrome, which caused her to suffer hundreds of crippling seizures every day. The state passed a medical marijuana law last month, but it won't go into effect for another year and a half.

On Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo told the state Health Department to hurry up with medical marijuana. Impelled by the deaths of two children with epileptic seizure disorders whose conditions could be alleviated with medical marijuana, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the Department of Health urging it to find ways to "accelerate the process for this specific dire population." Cuomo added that he looked forward "to any progress you can make for the children of our state living with epilepsy."

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit]

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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 20:54

A six-pack of dirty narcs gets nailed in Philly, a trio of crooked jail guards gets popped in New York City, an upstate New York cop gets busted for providing heads-ups to suspects, and a former West Virginia cop heads to prison for ripping off pain pills. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:left]In New York City, three Rikers Island jail guards were arrested Tuesday on charges they smuggled prescription pills, cocaine, and other drugs into the jail. Current guards Steven Dominguez, 26, and Infinite Divine Rahming, 30, and former guard Deleon Gift went down in a sting operation. They now face charges including conspiracy, bribery, and drug possession.

In Troy, New York, a Troy police officer was arrested Wednesday on charges he tipped off drug suspects about an impending state police raid. Patrolman Brian Gross, a 10-year veteran of the force, was assigned to assist the State Police narcotics team and came under suspicion after five February drug raids failed to turn up any drugs. He is accused of informing one person of an impending raid, with that person then informing the raid target. He faces felony charges of tampering with physical evidence, and misdemeanor charges of official misconduct and second-degree obstructing governmental administration. He is free on his own recognizance.

In Philadelphia, six narcotics officers were arrested Wednesday on a host of corruption charges, including robbery, extortion, kidnapping, and drug dealing. They are accused of ripping off hundreds of thousands of dollars in drugs and cash from suspected drug dealers, kidnapping and threatening their victims, falsifying reports to conceal their theft of drug proceeds, and much, much more. The six charged are Thomas Liciardello, 38; Brian Reynolds, 43; Michael Spicer, 46; Perry Betts, 46; Linwood Norman, 46; and John Speiser, 44. Federal prosecutors asked that they be held without bail because of their proclivities toward violence.

In Clarksburg, West Virginia, a former Shinnston police officer was sentenced Monday to four to 16 years in prison for confiscating hydrocodone from people and then keeping the pills for himself. Charles Roscoe Henning III pleaded guilty last month to four counts of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation by fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

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