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1 US PA: Pittsburgh Council Votes to Decriminalize Small AmountsTue, 22 Dec 2015
Source:Washington Post (DC)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:22 Added:12/22/2015

The Pittsburgh City Council voted Monday to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, falling in line with a growing number of municipalities that have taken similar actions in recent years, city officials said. Under the ordinance passed on a vote of 7 to 2, police in Pittsburgh will begin to issue fines of $25 for possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana and $100 for smoking it in a public space instead of citing for misdemeanors. The ordinance is subject to approval by Mayor Bill Peduto (D), who has voiced support.

- - Reuters

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2 US PA: PUB LTE: Stalling On Marijuana VoteThu, 19 Nov 2015
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Shuker, Heather Area:Pennsylvania Lines:46 Added:11/19/2015

I am a Pittsburgh mom, and my daughter, Hannah, suffers from LGS, a catastrophic form of pediatric epilepsy and a condition that can be treated with medical cannabis.

Not only has cannabis been found to reduce or eliminate seizures, but treatments with high THC content also can be used as a safer alternative to dangerous rescue medications.

Pennsylvania patients were promised a House vote on medical cannabis this fall, but patients like Hannah are still waiting.

Even worse, it is rumored that when the House does act, the legislation will include a number of harmful provisions, including a 10 percent cap on THC.

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3 US PA: Man Jailed After Cops Mistook Soap for Cocaine on I-78Tue, 17 Nov 2015
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA) Author:Schroeder, Laurie Mason Area:Pennsylvania Lines:111 Added:11/18/2015

A New York man who spent 29 days in jail after police mistook the homemade soap in the trunk of his rental car for cocaine has worked himself into enough of a lather to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Alexander J. Bernstein, 32, alleges that troopers from the state police barracks at Fogelsville conspired to fabricate evidence that he was transporting drugs, and knew that the field test they used on the soap wasn't reliable.

He says in the suit that he was forced to pay thousands of dollars in court costs and legal fees, and missed Thanksgiving with his 17-month-old son before the charges were dropped. Bernstein, who is seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of $150,000, also complains in the suit that investigators have refused to admit that they were wrong.

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4 US PA: PUB LTE: Pot Would Aid PatientsSun, 15 Nov 2015
Source:Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA) Author:Hilbert, Maura Area:Pennsylvania Lines:38 Added:11/16/2015

I am writing in support of proposed state legislation providing for the medical use of cannibas in Pennsylvania. The state may be on the brink of legalizing medical marijuana in the near future. Despite scientific data suggesting marijuana's therapeutic properties in certain patient populations, federal agencies are skeptical of its value in healthcare and apprehensive of potential consequences of its legalized use.

Medical marijuana has been used for centuries and has proven to be effective in treating a wide range of conditions such as reducing nausea and vomiting in patients receiving chemotherapy, stimulating the appetite of patients with cancer and HIV, decreasing spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, and decreasing suffering from chronic pain (American Nurses Association, 2008).

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5 US PA: PUB LTE: Drug Addiction Is Not A Moral FailingSun, 15 Nov 2015
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Broyles, Lauren M. Area:Pennsylvania Lines:49 Added:11/16/2015

As a nurse addictions researcher and social worker, respectively, we are disappointed by the orientation, tone and language used in the Nov. 8 Forum article "Three Moms, Three Addicts." The subtext arguably comes across as "we suburban white people from religious homes, with talented and beautiful children who attended good schools were living right, and addiction happened to our kids." This implies both that addiction is a moral failing and that certain communities should not be affected. These ideas are inaccurate and unhelpful.

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6 US PA: Column: Who Ordered The Heroin?Sun, 08 Nov 2015
Source:Republican & Herald (PA) Author:Coulter, Ann Area:Pennsylvania Lines:122 Added:11/08/2015

Heroin use in the United States increased by nearly 80 percent between 2007 and 2012 alone, and The New York Times' main reaction to this depressing fact is to be overjoyed that the new addicts are mostly white.

The important point is not that ragingly addictive drugs are sweeping small-town-America or young lives are being cut short. What matters is that the drug epidemic is not having a disparate impact.

Excitedly reporting that "nearly 90 percent of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were white"- yay!- the Times claimed that, with white kids dying from heroin overdoses, their parents are taking a "more forgiving approach" to heroin addiction.

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7 US PA: Ohio Pot Advocates Likely To Relight EffortsSun, 08 Nov 2015
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Minchillo, John Area:Pennsylvania Lines:157 Added:11/08/2015

(AP) - Part herb, part biceps and all smiles, a humanoid superhero named Buddie is catching plenty of blame - and credit - for Ohio voters' rejection of legalized marijuana Tuesday.

His inventors wanted the towering bud-turned-mascot to help make Ohio the fifth state to allow recreational and medical pot. Backers from political action group ResponsibleOhio plunged the creature onto college campuses and for months cast his television-friendly visage as a prime face for their statewide drive.

The cartoonish optics infuriated both parents and longtime advocates for the drug, drawing quick comparisons to Joe Camel, the animated cigarette pitchman killed off by R.J. Reynolds in 1997. Ardent marijuana activists now call Buddie one of several blunders that kept Ohioans from passing legalization, despite growing social tolerance. In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana could become legal within months.

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8 US PA: OPED: Pa. Forfeiture Laws Need ReformSun, 01 Nov 2015
Source:Pottstown Mercury (PA) Author:Shuford, Reggie Area:Pennsylvania Lines:95 Added:11/02/2015

Carol Johnson* of North Philadelphia, 87, carefully saved $2,000 from her pension checks, storing the money in an upstairs bedroom. But in a matter of minutes, it was gone - taken by law enforcement after Carol's husband Kevin* was found with two marijuana joints in their home.

Carol was never charged with a crime, but it didn't matter. Under Pennsylvania's civil asset forfeiture laws, cash, cars and even homes can be forfeited without a hearing on the evidence, without due process, without justice.

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9 US PA: Flynn Sees Potential In HempSun, 11 Oct 2015
Source:Times-Tribune, The (Scranton PA) Author:Wellock, Bill Area:Pennsylvania Lines:47 Added:10/12/2015

Scranton Rep Cosponsors Bill to Grow Crop in State.

State Rep. Marty Flynn has read a lot about hemp, the name for cannabis plant varieties grown for industrial uses, such as fiber.

During his research, he kept thinking about the legal status of the plant.

"To me it seemed like there was no reason for it to be illegal," he said.

Mr. Flynn, D-Scranton, became a key cosponsor of House Bill 967, which creates a pilot program for growing hemp in Pennsylvania. The House Agriculture Committee just voted 24-0, with three members not voting, to move the bill out of the committee.

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10 US PA: Pa. Ponders Possibility Of Medical, Legal PotSun, 11 Oct 2015
Source:Times-Tribune, The (Scranton PA) Author:Wellock, Bill Area:Pennsylvania Lines:273 Added:10/11/2015

State House Working Group Sifts Through Claims.

The papers and opinions on medical marijuana kept coming across Rep. Aaron Kaufer's desk. Advocates and opponents wanted their chance to convince him. ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE Young marijuana plants stand under grow lamps at the Pioneer Production and Processing marijuana growing facility in Washington state. A total of 23 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Mr. Kaufer, R-Kingston, was a member of a bi-partisan working group in the state House of Representatives looking at the issue of medical marijuana. After months of research and meetings, the group sent its conclusions to House Majority Leader Dave Reed in September. The conclusions gave guidelines for how a potential medical marijuana program could be implemented.

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11 US PA: Editorial: Fair ReleaseSun, 11 Oct 2015
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:54 Added:10/11/2015

New Guidelines Will Thin Costly Bloated Prisons

Six thousand drug offenders will be released from federal prisons between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, their terms cut short by new sentencing guidelines in the United States.

Their release reflects not just the revised, retroactive guidelines enacted by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, but the nation's growing concern about the number of citizens it jails. About one out of every 100 Americans is incarcerated, a third for drug crimes. Freeing eligible nonviolent drug offenders is a bold and necessary first step in restoring a criminal-justice system burdened by Draconian sentencing of the 1980s and 1990s.

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12 US PA: Guarded Optimism For Pope's Jail VisitSun, 27 Sep 2015
Source:Chicago Tribune (IL) Author:Tanfani, Joseph Area:Pennsylvania Lines:144 Added:09/27/2015

Advocates of Reform Hope Francis Does Justice to Their Cause

PHILADELPHIA - Ed Gilchrist grew up in the rough Philly neighborhood of Kensington, dealing drugs "as soon as I was old enough to count money."

Now serving his second jail stretch, for a marijuana bust, he's about to experience something that more solid citizens could never hope for - - an audience with Pope Francis.

"I never thought in a million years I would come to a county prison and meet the pope," Gilchrist said Thursday, dressed in jail blues and sitting on a folding chair in the jail's chapel. "Those two things never line up, you know?"

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13 US PA: Prison Visit Comes Amid Reform EffortsSun, 27 Sep 2015
Source:Los Angeles Times (CA) Author:Tanfani, Joseph Area:Pennsylvania Lines:155 Added:09/27/2015

Inmates, Advocates Hope Francis Will Encourage Changes in U.S. Criminal Justice.

PHILADELPHIA - Ed Gilchrist grew up in the rough Philly neighborhood of Kensington, dealing drugs as soon as he "was old enough to count money." Now serving his second jail stretch, for a marijuana bust, he's about to experience something that more-solid citizens could never hope for: an audience with Pope Francis.

"I never thought in a million years I would come to a county prison and meet the pope," Gilchrist said with a wry smile Thursday, dressed in jail blues and sitting on a folding chair in the prison's chapel. "Those two things never line up, you know?"

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14 US PA: Column: Why Do We Continue to Fight a War We Can't Win?Wed, 23 Sep 2015
Source:Daily Local, The (PA) Author:Stossel, John Area:Pennsylvania Lines:82 Added:09/23/2015

How many wars can we fight?

Our presidential candidates demand "stronger action" against both illegal immigration and illegal drugs. But those goals conflict. The War on Drugs makes border enforcement much harder!

America's 44-year-long Drug War hasn't made a dent in American drug use or the supply of illegal drugs. If it had some positive effect, prices of drugs would have increased, but they haven't. American authorities say drugs are more available than ever.

Drug prohibition, like alcohol prohibition, creates fat profits that invite law-breaking.

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15 US PA: Column: Law And BorderSun, 20 Sep 2015
Source:Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, PA) Author:Stossel, John Area:Pennsylvania Lines:105 Added:09/20/2015

How many wars can we fight? Our presidential candidates demand "stronger action" against both illegal immigration and illegal drugs. But those goals conflict. The War on Drugs makes border enforcement much harder!

America's 44-year-long Drug War hasn't made a dent in American drug use or the supply of illegal drugs. If it had some positive effect, prices of drugs would have increased, but they haven't. American authorities say drugs are more available than ever.

Drug prohibition, like alcohol prohibition, creates fat profits that invite law-breaking.

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16 US PA: LTE: Drugs Are Killing Communities and People We LoveSun, 13 Sep 2015
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Doyle, Richard Area:Pennsylvania Lines:48 Added:09/15/2015

I have written this letter a thousand times in my head. Always hoped I wouldn't have to send it. I write this from a war zone. As a war correspondent, you can report only what you see firsthand. The Post-Gazette won't report on this casualty ... After all, this is just one more death, a casualty of our war on drugs.

A young man whose family has been intertwined with ours for years died recently of an overdose - one more victim of the epidemic that is sweeping our country. There will be no quarter-column news story about his death. His passing will be remembered only in an obit.

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17 US PA: Series: Roadblocks To ResearchWed, 26 Aug 2015
Source:Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) Author:Chesler, Jayson Area:Pennsylvania Lines:176 Added:08/26/2015

Obtaining Marijuana to Test Its Medical Properties Can Be a Long Process.

Research on marijuana's potential for medicinal use has been hampered for years by federal restrictions, though nearly half the states and the District of Columbia have legalized the drug in some form.

An analysis by News21 shows that $1.1 billion of the $1.4 billion that the National Institutes of Health spent on marijuana research from 2008 to 2014 went to studies on marijuana abuse and addiction. Only $297 million was spent on its effects on the brain and potential medical benefits for those suffering from conditions like chronic pain.

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18 US PA: 'Ground Zero' For the Heroin Crisis: 2 Days, 25Mon, 24 Aug 2015
Source:Washington Post (DC) Author:Bernstein, Lenny Area:Pennsylvania Lines:171 Added:08/24/2015

Washington, Pa.- The first call came at 7:33 p.m. last Sunday: Two people had overdosed on heroin in a home just a few hundred yards from the station where firefighters were awaiting their nightly round of drug emergencies.

Six minutes later, there was another. A 50-year-old man had been found in his bedroom, blue from lack of oxygen, empty bags of heroin by his body.

At 8:11, a third call. Then another, and another, and another and another.

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19 US PA: 17 Local Overdoses In 1 DayTue, 18 Aug 2015
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Templeton, David Area:Pennsylvania Lines:88 Added:08/18/2015

Three Heroin Users Die, Three Saved With Narcan in Washington County

A woman heading to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting Sunday collapsed and lay unconscious in a Canonsburg parking lot after a heroin overdose. She was one of 17 overdoses that day in Washington County that may have caused as many as three deaths.

Canonsburg police, equipped with the opioid antidote naloxone, known as Narcan, used the nasal spray to revive the woman in a matter of seconds, Canonsburg Chief Alex Coghill said. Borough police also responded to a second call in neighboring Houston, where emergency medical officials already were on the scene. Naloxone again was used to revive the victim.

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20 US PA: Judge Reverses 158 Drug VerdictsSat, 08 Aug 2015
Source:Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) Author:Slobodzian, Joseph A. Area:Pennsylvania Lines:88 Added:08/09/2015

It Was the Largest Dismissal in One Day in City History.

A Philadelphia judge on Friday reversed 158 narcotics convictions tainted by allegations of police corruption - the largest such dismissal in one day in city history.

The rulings by Common Pleas Court President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper were the latest fallout from the federal prosecution of seven police narcotics officers.

The officers - Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser - were acquitted of all charges at a federal trial in May.

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