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US NE: His Patients in Pain, a Doctor Must Limit Their Use of

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 03/17/2016 - 07:00
New York Times, 17 Mar 2016 - MILFORD, Neb. - Susan Kubicka-Welander, a short-order cook, went to her pain checkup appointment straight from the lunch-rush shift. "We were really busy," she told Dr. Robert L. Wergin, trying to smile through deeply etched lines of exhaustion. "Thursdays, it's Philly cheesesteaks." Her back ached from a compression fracture; a shattered elbow was still mending; her left-hip sciatica was screaming louder than usual. She takes a lot of medication for chronic pain, but today it was just not enough.
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With Final House Vote, Pennsylvania Set to Become 24th Medical Marijuana State

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 23:07

This article was produced in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.

Following a 10-month delay since the state Senate first approved Senate Bill 3, which will allow residents suffering from specified medical conditions to use medical marijuana with their doctor's approval, the House Wednesday approved an amended version of the bill.

[image:1 align:left]The Senate is expected to approve the amended bill, and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has said he will sign it into law.

"Today's vote comes as huge relief to countless Pennsylvanians," said Latrisha Bentch of Harrisburg, whose daughter suffers from mesial temporal sclerosis, a condition marked by frequent seizures that could be treated with medical marijuana. She is a founding member of the Campaign for Compassion, a local organization of patients and families advocating for comprehensive medical marijuana legislation.

"This has been a long and difficult journey for many patients and families, and our destination is finally in sight," Bentch said. "We gave House members a lot of grief for not getting this done quickly, but we are grateful for the incredible bipartisan support the bill received during the floor debate and final vote. We commend them for showing that compassion is not a partisan issue."

The amended bill would allow for up to 25 growers and processors licensed by the Department of Health. The department would also license up to 50 dispensaries, each of which could have up to three locations. Home cultivation will not be allowed.

Qualifying conditions under the bill include cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, seizures, autism, sickle cell anemia, and intractable pain if conventional therapies or opiates are contraindicated or ineffective.

"Patients and families throughout Pennsylvania have been waiting for years to see this day," said Becky Dansky, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. "We applaud the members of the House for passing this important legislation, which will significantly improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of seriously ill Pennsylvanians. The Senate and Gov. Wolf have already demonstrated extraordinary leadership on this issue. We hope they will act quickly to get this bill approved and signed into law."

Once they do, Pennsylvania will become the 24th state with a full-fledged medical marijuana law. About a dozen more states only allow access to low- or no-THC cannabis oils made with cannabidiol.

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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 22:33

Another DEA scandal is brewing in the Big Easy, more jail guards gone wild, another cop with a pill problem, and more. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:left]In New Orleans, a "golden boy" DEA agent is at the center of an investigation into misconduct in a multi-agency drug task force he led. An FBI-led criminal inquiry has focused on several sheriff's deputies who served on the task force and are suspected of stealing cash and selling drugs. The problems with the DEA in New Orleans resulted last month in the head of the New Orleans being recalled to Washington.

In Lisbon, Ohio, a Columbiana County jail guard was arrested last Friday as he tried to smuggle drugs into the jail. Corrections Officer Steven Michael Hamilton, 27, was caught carrying joints, pills, and loose tobacco into the jail hidden inside a Burger King bag. He admitted being paid $50 to do so. He is charged with illegal conveyance of a drug of abuse.

In Corinth, Mississippi, an Alcorn County jail guard was arrested last Saturday as he tried to smuggle drugs, alcohol, and other contraband into the jail. Acting on a tip, sheriff's deputies searched Ethan Wayne Little's vehicle when he reported to work and found meth, cocaine, marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, and a cell phone bundled in a package. It's not clear what the precise charges are.

In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a former Dupont police officer was convicted Tuesday of letting a drug dealer go free in exchange for prescription pain killers. Kenneth Shotwell, 46, was convicted of bribery, obstruction of justice, and official oppression. He went down after pulling over the known dealer, accusing him of driving on a suspended license, and then letting him go in exchange for oxycodone tablets.

In Sacramento, California, a former deputy US Marshal was sentenced last Thursday to 10 years in federal prison for ripping off 24 pounds of marijuana from drug dealers in Yuba City. Clorenzo Griffen, 38, and two acquaintances stole the weed at gunpoint in a motel parking lot, but then attracted the attention of a Highway Patrol officer by blowing through a stoplight as they fled. The robbers then abandoned their vehicle, and Griffen ran into a nearby building—which happened to be the Sutter County Sheriff's Office—where he was arrested.

In Philadelphia, a former prison guard was sentenced Monday to 2 ½ years in federal prison for delivering OxyContin pills to prisoners in return for cash. Joseph Romano, 31, pleaded guilty in December to attempted organization and two counts of attempted distribution of controlled substances. He quickly confessed to his offenses, and that confession helped lead to a sting that resulted in the indictment of five other prison guards. Romano said he was addicted to opioates because of an injury and said he would focus on his recovery. 

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Medical Marijuana Update

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 21:33

Michigan dispensaries get raided, a CBD cannabis oil bill comes back to life in Georgia, a CBD cannabis oil bill dies in Utah, Pennsylvania is just a couple of votes away from medical marijuana, and more.

[image:1 align:right]California

On Monday, an appeals court upheld LA's ban on medical marijuana deliveries A three-judge appellate court panel upheld a lower court's decision to temporarily ban Nestdrop, an app that allowed people in the city to have marijuana delivered to their door. But the decision will have an impact beyond Nestdrop; the justices held that under the city's zoning law, Proposition D, all delivery services are barred from operating in the city.

Georgia

On Monday, the CBD cannabis oil bill wa revived. Supporters of House Bill 722, which would expand access to CBD cannabis oil, have resurrected the measure by attaching its language to an old Senate bill. It could go to a House vote as early as today. The bill would expand conditions that qualify for CBD cannabis oil and allow companies outside the state to ship it in. Language that would have allowed in-state marijuana cultivation to produce the oil was stripped out earlier in the House.

Michigan

On Sunday, dispensary raids sparked protests. Nearly a hundred people took to the streets outside the Michigan State Police Gaylord Post Sunday to protest raids against 12 Oswego County dispensaries two days earlier. The Straits Area Narcotic Enforcement (SANE) team led the raids, which were the second such law enforcement assault on patient access in the area in the past year.

On Tuesday, more raids were revealed. The West Michigan Enforcement Team (WEMET) has raided four dispensaries for allegedly selling medical marijuana to cardholders who were not their registered patients. Two were in Saugatuck, one in Allegan City, and one in Pullman. Twelve other Northern Michigan dispensaries were raided last week.

Nebraska

On Monday, a state medical marijuana political party was formed. Cornhusker activists tired of waiting for the legislature to act have formed a political party, Legal Marijuana Now Nebraska, and are preparing a signature drive to put medical marijuana to the voters. The will need to gather 6,500 valid voter signatures by August 1 to qualify for the November ballot.

Ohio

On Tuesday, the medical marijuana initiative campaign resubmitted initiative language. That didn't take long. Last Friday, Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) rejected the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana initiative because of deficiencies in its summary. On Tuesday, the campaign submitted revised language. After 20 days of review by state officials, the campaign will then have until July to gather 306,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Pennsylvania

 

Last Thursday, a key House member said he would allow a vote on the medical marijuana bill this week. Ten months after the Senate approved Sen. Mike Folmer's Senate Bill 3, the House will finally vote on it this week. On Monday, the bill began to move. The House Monday night passed an amended version of Sen. Mike Folmer's Senate Bill 3. The vote comes 10 months after the bill passed the Senate. The bill still faces a final House vote and then must return to the Senate for its approval of the amended version. South Dakota Last Wednesday, the House killed a CBD cannabis oil bill. A bill that would have allowed for the use of CBD cannabis oil was killed in the House Wednesday on a 25-43 vote, with one "no" voter suggesting parents who lobbied for it should move to another state. The measure, Senate Bill 171, had already passed the Senate, and Republican Gov. Dennis Daugard had suggested he would sign it. Rep. Kristin Conzet (R-Rapid City) told people suffering seizure disorders they should move elsewhere. "I don’t like the road that we’re going down at this time," she said. "This is not a bill for South Dakota." 

Utah

Last Thursday, the legislative killed a CBD cannabis oil bill. First, lawmakers killed an actual medical marijuana, Senate Bill 73, and then, a watered-down substitute, Senate Bill 89 died as lawmakers could not come to agreement on late amendments on the last day of the session. The stage is now set for a medical marijuana initiative drive by patients and supporters frustrated with the legislature's inaction.

 

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

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Chronicle AM: CDC Urges Docs to Severely Limit Pain Pill Prescribing, NY Rep Wants Safe Injection Sites, More... (3/16/16

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 20:41

Another poll has a national majority for pot legalization, the Vermont legalization bill is now before the House, the CDC urges doctors to really cut back on pain pill prescriptions, a New York assemblywoman wants supervised injection sites, a Mexican governor wants a pilot program of opium cultivation, and more. 

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

Another Poll Has a Narrow National Majority for Legalization. A new national tracking poll conducted by Morning Consult has support for legalization at 52%, with 43% opposed and 5% undecided. That's in line with other major national polls in recent years that generally show support for legalization in the 50s. The most recent Gallup poll had it at 60%.

Massachusetts Sheriffs Oppose Legalization Initiative. More of the usual suspects weigh in against legalization, with the state's sheriffs saying it would destigmatize drug use and make it easier for teens to get their hands on the weed. Last week, the state Hospital Association and leading elected officials, including Gov. Charlie Baker (R), Attorney General Maura Healey (D), and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) came out against the initiative from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts.  

Vermont Legalization Bill Now Before House. Senate Bill 241, the pot legalization bill, is now before the House Judiciary Committee. On Tuesday, Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) and Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) introduced the bill to the committee.

Medical Marijuana

Georgia CBD Cannabis Oil Bill Revived. Supporters of House Bill 722, which would expand access to CBD cannabis oil, have resurrected the measure by attaching its language to an old Senate bill. It could go to a House vote as early as today. The bill would expand conditions that qualify for CBD cannabis oil and allow companies outside the state to ship it in. Language that would have allowed in-state marijuana cultivation to produce the oil was stripped out earlier in the House.

More Michigan Medical Marijuana Dispensary Raids. The West Michigan Enforcement Team (WEMET) has raided four dispensaries for allegedly selling medical marijuana to cardholders who were not their registered patients. Two were in Saugatuck, one in Allegan City, and one in Pullman. Twelve other Northern Michigan dispensaries were raided last week.

Ohio Medical Marijuana Campaign Resubmits Initiative. That didn't take long. Last Friday, Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) rejected the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana initiative because of deficiencies in its summary. On Tuesday, the campaign submitted revised language. After 20 days of review by state officials, the campaign will then have until July to gather 306,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Criminal Justice

Massachusetts Conference Committee Agrees on Ending Driver's License Suspensions for Drug Offenders. House and Senate negotiators announced Tuesday that they had reached agreement on a bill to end the state's long-running policy of automatically suspending for five years the driver's licenses of people convicted of drug crimes. The relic of the 1980s drug war will be officially repealed after the full House and Senate vote on the amended bill. Both houses passed bills, and the conference committee has been ironing out the differences. More than 30 other states have taken similar steps.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

CDC Urges Docs to Reduce Prescribing Pain Relievers. In a move bitterly decried by chronic pain advocates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday doctors should only prescribe opioid pain relievers as a last resort. Instead, doctors should urge their patients to try physical therapy, exercise, and over-the-counter medications before using opioids to treat chronic pain. The CDC is recommending not using opioids except to treat cancer and for palliative end-of-life care, using the lowest effective dose of opioids, and limiting prescriptions to three days for short-term pain.

Harm Reduction

New York Assemblywoman Wants Supervised Injection Facilities Statewide. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) said Tuesday she will soon introduce a bill to establish the harm reduction facilities. Rosenthal's move comes after Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick hoisted a proposal for such a facility there. "New York, and nearly every other state across the country, is grappling with a heroin and opioid addiction crisis that has grown to epidemic proportions," said Rosenthal, who heads the Assembly's Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, in a statement. "Addiction is a public health crisis, and we must address it as such, with aggressive, community-based solutions that reduce harm and provide access to life-saving treatment services."

International

Mexican Governor Proposes Legalizing Opium Cultivation.  Hector Astudillo, governor of violence-plagued Guerrero, said Monday that legalizing opium cultivation for medical purposes might help reduce the violence in his state and the idea should be considered. "Let's do some sort of pilot scheme," Astudillo, a member of President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, said. "Provided it's used for medical issues ... It's a way out that could get us away from the violence there has been in Guerrero," he added.

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CN ON: Column: Letas Be Honest About Needle Sites

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Toronto Star, 16 Mar 2016 - Dead people don't recover. That's the working principle behind harm reduction: Avoiding the ultimate harm that could befall drug addicts by facilitating lesser harms, primarily via aiding and abetting in the consumption of those drugs in a safer environment.
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CN BC: Data From Vancouveras Injection Sites Give Other Cities

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Globe and Mail, 16 Mar 2016 - As more North American cities push for supervised injection sites to address soaring fatal overdose rates, they can find a dozen years of lessons in Vancouver, which has the only such facilities on the continent. Health officials in several Canadian cities - including Montreal, Victoria and, most recently, Toronto - are somewhere along the path to opening their own supervised injection sites, emboldened by a Supreme Court of Canada ruling and the election last year of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals.
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CN NS: Editorial: Sounds Like Perfect Role For Science

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Cape Breton Post, 16 Mar 2016 - As illustrious a scientist as Arthur McDonald is expressing optimism about the current federal government's indication it will embrace the scientific community. That change in attitude by the Liberals as compared to the former government should come as a relief to Canadians in general, for a range of reasons.
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CN BC: Grow Pot Openly, Get Seeds For Free

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Vancouver 24hours, 16 Mar 2016 - Sensible BC Director Doing Giveaway As 'Final Step' Of 'Civil Disobedience' Local cannabis activist Dana Larsen says Canadians growing marijuana at home is the "final stage" in Canada's legalization movement-and he's providing the seeds to get people started.
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Canada: Column: Marijuana's Effect on Sleeping Still Unclear

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Globe and Mail, 16 Mar 2016 - At least once a week, I hear from patients that smoking marijuana helps them to relax and to sleep. I know that other clinicians hear the same thing because they ask me about it at insomnia workshops. Does cannabis really improve sleep? Several studies done in the 1970s examined the effects of smoked marijuana on objective sleep patterns, measured using polysomnography. This method of overnight recording involves the tracking of brain waves, eye movements and muscle tone in order to distinguish the sleep stages and their pattern of occurrence throughout the night.
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Singapore: Editorial: Drug Problem 'Not Just a Public Health

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Straits Times, 16 Mar 2016 - Singapore's uncompromising stance against drugs is the reason it has stayed relatively drug-free, with arrested drug abusers comprising less than 0.1 per cent of the country's population. Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said this on Monday at a meeting of international delegates, at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, Austria.
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US: Early-Age Pot Habit May Alter Brain, Study Says

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Chicago Tribune, 16 Mar 2016 - Young teens who smoke pot may wind up with brains that look strikingly different from those who start using marijuana later in their lives, a new study reports. Early pot use may alter the physical development of a young teen's brain. It seems to obstruct the natural process by which the body eliminates unneeded neurons and synaptic connections, the researchers reported.
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US HI: OPED: 'War on Drugs' Has Failed, and Here's What to Do

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 16 Mar 2016 - Outdated drug policies around the world have resulted in soaring drug-related violence, overstretched criminal justice systems, runaway corruption and mangled democratic institutions. After reviewing the evidence, consulting drug policy experts and examining our own failures on this front while in office, we came to an unavoidable conclusion: The "war on drugs" is an unmitigated disaster.
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US PA: Time to Exhale: Delco Lawmakers Support Medical

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Daily Times, 16 Mar 2016 - Medical marijuana has the support of the Delaware County delegation because of its potential to decrease opiate addiction while simultaneously offering relief to those with chronic or terminal conditions. As state legislators work their way through hundreds of amendments, at consideration is Senate Bill 3, which would allow patients who have a recommendation from their doctor to purchase and use medical cannabis from a licensed center.
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US HI: Bill Would Offer Guidelines on Medical Marijuana Testing

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 16 Mar 2016 - Industry experts say there are a lot of chemicals that could contaminate Hawaii's medical marijuana. Dispensaries are set to open in Hawaii in July, and state lawmakers are pushing a broad bill to address many of the obstacles the industry is facing. One is how to regulate marijuana testing.
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US CO: Column: Council Wants Cannabis Clubs Out; Clubs Dig in

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Colorado Springs Independent, 16 Mar 2016 - On Tuesday, March 8, after a marathon public comment period, Colorado Springs City Council voted to ban cannabis clubs in the city by 2024. The 6-3 vote comes after years of deliberation over how to handle the clubs, which provide a social setting to consume legal cannabis. Though many in attendance testified that the clubs are a place of community, refuge and healing, detractors see the clubs' mere existence as flagrantly defying the previous Council's decision to opt out of recreational sales following statewide legalization. This ordinance, which will get its final reading on March 22, sets up the framework for the ban. It prohibits the opening of any new Marijuana Consumption Club (MCC) - defined as "an establishment, organization, association, club, teapad, or other similar entity or place where a purpose is to allow the consumption of marijuana, medical marijuana or marijuana product on the premises" - but lets certain clubs stay open, for now.
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US: New Standards for Painkillers Aim to Stem Overdose Deaths

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
New York Times, 16 Mar 2016 - WASHINGTON - In an effort to curb what many consider the worst public health drug crisis in decades, the federal government on Tuesday published the first national standards for prescription painkillers, recommending that doctors try pain relievers like ibuprofen before prescribing the highly addictive pills, and that they give most patients only a few days' supply. The release of the new guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ends months of arguments with pain doctors and drug industry groups, which had bitterly opposed the recommendations on the grounds that they would create unfair hurdles for patients who legitimately have long-term pain.
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US MA: Deal Struck On Driver's Licenses For Drug Offenders

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 07:00
Boston Globe, 16 Mar 2016 - The state Legislature is set to repeal a 27-year-old law requiring a driver's license suspension for those convicted of drug crimes, such as possession, that have nothing to do with driving. The final vote could come as soon as next week, and Governor Charlie Baker has signaled he will sign the measure.
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Will UNGASS 2016 Be the Beginning of the End for the War on Drugs?

Speakeasy Blog (STDW) - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 05:56

This article is by Ann Fordham and Martin Jelsma, and is republished from

read more

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Chronicle AM: PA MedMJ Bill Finally Moving, WA Governor Vetoes Hemp Bill, More... (3/15/16)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 03/15/2016 - 20:56

Rhode Island voters may get a say on pot legalization, no medical marijuana deliveries for Los Angeles, the Pennsylvania medical marijuana bill is finally moving, Colombia's high criminal court expands the parameters of decriminalization, and more.

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

Rhode Island Governor Open to Legalization Referendum. Gov. Gina Raimundo (D) said today that she is open to the idea of a statewide referendum on marijuana legalization proposed by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D). The referendum would be non-binding. There is "some talk at the General Assembly of maybe putting it on the ballot to ask the voters their opinion of should we do this? And I would be open to that, because I think it's a big issue and it would be good know where the voters stand," Raimundo said. The talk comes as the legislature considers pending legalization proposals.

Medical Marijuana

California Appeals Court Upholds Ban on LA Pot Deliveries. A three-judge appellate court panel Monday upheld a lower court's decision to temporarily ban Nestdrop, an app that allowed people in the city to have marijuana delivered to their door. But the decision will have an impact beyond Nestdrop; the justices held that under the city's zoning law, Proposition D, all delivery services are barred from operating in the city.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Bill Moves After Long Delay. The House Monday night passed an amended version of Sen. Mike Folmer's Senate Bill 3. The vote comes 10 months after the bill passed the Senate. The bill still faces a final House vote and then must return to the Senate for its approval of the amended version.

Hemp

Washington Governor Vetoes Hemp Bill for No Good Reason. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has vetoed Senate Bill 6206, which would have legalized industrial hemp production in the state. Inslee's reason nothing to do with the substance of the bill; he is irritated with the legislature for failing to pass a budget bill. Inslee said the hemp measure was "a worthy bill," but he couldn't sign it until "a budget agreement is reached." The bill passed the House unanimously and the Senate 48-1, so a veto override is possible.  

International

Colombian Supreme Court of Justice Rules "Addicts" Can Carry More Than "Minimum Dose" of Drugs. The high criminal court ruled that "addicts" can carry more than the legal "minimum dose" of drugs out of "necessity" without being charged with a crime. The ruling came in the case of soldier caught with 50 grams of marijuana, 2 ½ times the decriminalized amount of 20 grams. Instead of the "minimum dose," the courts will have to contend with the "supply dose," enough of the drug to meet to the user's needs. Prior to this ruling, people caught in excess of the "minimum dose" faced charges of drug possession with intent to traffic. They can still be charged that way, but now have an additional defense.

Bloody Gunfights in Mexico's Reynosa.  Prohibition-related violence flared in the Mexican border town of Reynosa, just across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas, Sunday, when at least nine suspected cartel gunmen died in battles with government forces. At least three separate armed clashes took place, with gunmen also setting vehicles afire and blocking roads. The operation was aimed at taking down Gulf Cartel leaders in the city, but it wasn't clear if the police and military found their targets.

 

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