ALBANY, N.Y.-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he would
amend his proposal to regulate and tax recreational marijuana in hopes
that the drug could be legalized as part of the state budget due by
The amended proposal would allow for delivery services and reduce the
penalty for people who unlawfully sell marijuana to a person under the
age of 21. It would also add specificity to a social-equity fund that
the Democratic governor said would help revitalize communities that
have been most harmed by the war on drugs. He said the amendments
reflected conversations with lawmakers.
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Sue Taylor never would have let one of her students slide 20 years ago
if she had caught one with marijuana.
But the former Catholic school principal has found a new mission with
senior citizens: providing them with information and access to
cannabis through her California dispensary, Farmacy Berkeley. It
opened in the Bay Area in February.
Like many of her former colleagues at the top of religious
institutions, she once saw marijuana as a plague on her
African-American community. "I was just like them until I saw the
healing, and I could not turn my back on that, spiritually," Ms.
Taylor, 72, says.
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State-sanctioned marijuana shops are contributing to the rise in lung
illnesses and deaths at a higher rate than previously believed.
Proponents of the marijuana industry have dismissed the "pot vaping
crisis," with its deaths and lung injuries, as an aberration of the
illicit market. Legal pot, they say, is regulated and thus not to
blame for the recent spate of problems. Victims and families who came
forward to warn about purchases made at state-licensed shops were
lambasted by legalization advocates. When the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention advised against using all marijuana vaping
products, industry insiders questioned their motives and called the
warnings conspiracy theories.
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When Garrett Rigg moved from a "transitional living program" facility
near Chicago last month into a group home, it was a major milestone
for the 27-year-old, who traveled 1,000 miles from his home in Denver
to get treatment after a cannabis-induced psychotic break five years
Rigg had to leave his hometown because it lacked suitable long-term
treatment, according to his mother, Connie Kabrick. The three
marijuana dispensaries at the intersection a half block from her home
are the reason why she says he can't move
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I've covered things that injure, sicken and kill kids and adults for
more than 30 years. From auto safety to medical errors, I've competed
to break stories on the latest deadly defect or health policy change,
most recently on electronic cigarettes.
In late August, I added vaping-related lung illnesses to the beat.
Last month, I added marijuana, psychosis and other mental illness.
It's a pretty solitary place to be.
We reporters covered the heck out of vaping lung illnesses starting in
August. Once it became clear the culprit was THC and not nicotine,
however, the news media seemed to lose interest, said former Food and
Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb at a breakfast event I
attended in early November.
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In an effort to discourage drug use and vaping, a Catholic high school in
Ohio has announced plans to begin testing its students for drugs and
nicotine, joining what education professionals are calling a growing trend.
Administrators at Stephen T. Badin High School in Hamilton, Ohio, said in
a letter to parents this week that the drug-testing program, which they
said had been shaped over the course of two years with help from the
Archdiocese of Cincinnati, would go into effect in January.
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Two major universities are creating the first career paths for young
people interested in the business of marijuana.
The University of Maryland announced in June that its School of Pharmacy
will offer a master's degree in medical cannabis, and a new course is
also being added this fall at Cornell University's School of Integrative
Plant Science called "Cannabis: Biology, Society and Industry."
"I advise a lot of students in a lot of majors and they're all like,
this is going to be cool," said Antonio DiTommaso, program director
for agricultural sciences at Cornell. "I think some of it is just a
novelty, but it's really going to be based on the cropping, the
agronomics, the medicinal aspect, the chemistry, consumer attitudes
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Kush. Bud. Herb.
Who knows what to call marijuana these days?
Born of the need for secrecy, slang has long dominated pot culture.
But as entrepreneurs seek to capitalize on new laws legalizing
recreational and medical marijuana, they too are grappling with what
to call it.
Heading to the dispensary to buy a few nugs or dabs? Marketers seeking
to exploit the $10 billion market would prefer that you just called it
Shirley Halperin, an author of 2007's "Pot Culture: The A-Z Guide to
Stoner Language and Life," has seen the shift in recent years. Not long
ago, she met with an executive to talk about his company's products. "He
physically winced when I said the word 'pot,'" she recalled. "Businesses
don't want to call it 'weed.'"
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DENVER - Serenity Christensen, 14, is too young to set foot in one of
Colorado's many marijuana shops, but she was able to spot a business
opportunity in legal weed. She is a Girl Scout, and this year, she and
her mother decided to sell their cookies outside a dispensary. "Good
business," Serenity said.
But on the other side of Denver, legalization has turned another high
school student, David Perez, against the warehouselike marijuana
cultivations now clustered around his neighborhood. He said their
skunky aroma often smacks him in the face when he walks out his front
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Recent efforts to legalize marijuana in New York and New Jersey have
been stalled - but not killed - by disputes over how exactly to divvy
up the revenues from marijuana sales and by worries about drugged
driving. Those are both important issues. But another concern should
be at the center of this debate: the medical implications of
legalizing marijuana, particularly for young people.
It's tempting to think marijuana is a harmless substance that poses no
threat to teens and young adults. The medical facts, however, reveal a
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In the next few weeks, Nicholas DiPatrizio's lab at UC Riverside will
receive a shipment of marijuana.
DiPatrizio, a professor of biomedical sciences, then will begin giving
mice precise doses of cannabis oil to see how marijuana impacts their
weight and a host of serious health conditions often linked to obesity.
The study marks the first time UC Riverside has received federal
approval to conduct research on marijuana -- or any other substance in
the Drug Enforcement Administration's strict Schedule I category. It
also marks the school's first cannabis-related grant, with $744,000
from tobacco taxes being used to finance this three-year research
project on how marijuana affects metabolic health.
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MINFORD, Ohio - Inside an elementary school classroom decorated with
colorful floor mats, art supplies and building blocks, a little boy
named Riley talked quietly with a teacher about how he had watched his
mother take "knockout pills" and had seen his father shoot up "a
Riley, who is 9 years old, described how he had often been left alone
to care for his baby brother while his parents were somewhere else
getting high. Beginning when he was about 5, he would heat up meals of
fries, chicken nuggets and spaghetti rings in the microwave for
himself and his brother, he said. "That was all I knew how to make,"
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UCSF psychiatrist Brian Anderson is studying an experimental therapy
to help long-term AIDS survivors - people who were infected with HIV
in the 1980s and never expected to live this long - who are feeling
sad and demoralized.
In a clinic outfitted with a comfortable couch, soft lighting, throw
pillows and blankets, the participants of his study are given
psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound found in magic mushrooms. They
lie down for a few hours, a mask over their eyes and soothing music
playing in the background, and experience a psychedelic trip.
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As dozens of states move toward legalizing marijuana -- for both
medical and recreational purposes -- scientists and parents have asked
what the impact might be on children. Will more teens use pot? Will
doing so cause behavioral problems? Will they develop a substance-use
According to a new study published last month in the journal Addiction:
yes, probably not, and maybe.
The study, led by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University
of Pennsylvania, found that marijuana use among teens does not lead to
conduct problems. In fact, it's the other way around. Adolescents with
conduct problems, like cheating, skipping class, and stealing, are
more likely to gravitate toward marijuana use.
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Timothy Durden Jr. made it a habit to throw his arms around his
grandmother, plant a big kiss on her cheek and proclaim, "I love you,
The former Park Hill High School basketball and football player had a
passion for joking, dancing, lifting weights.
But the 18-year-old also enjoyed "smoking his weed," family wrote in
his obituary, and that habit cost him his life when he allegedly tried
to rob the teenager who was selling him 2 ounces of marijuana in the
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SALT LAKE CITY -- The push for legalized marijuana has moved into Utah
and Oklahoma, two of the most conservative states in the country,
further underscoring how quickly feelings about marijuana are changing
in the United States.
If the two measures pass, Utah and Oklahoma will join 30 other states
that have legalized some form of medical marijuana, according to the
pro-pot National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws. Nine
of those states and Washington, D.C. also have broad legalization
where adults 21 and older can use pot for any reason. Michigan could
become the 10th state with its ballot initiative this year.
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"My uncle is prescribed marijuana."
"My parents use it, and they're doing fine."
As a drug prevention specialist who does in-school presentations in
the U.S., as well as internationally, Zach Levin has seen the problem
firsthand: Teens know that recreational use is legal in states such as
Colorado and that medical use is on the rise, and they're using that
information to support the old argument that a little weed never hurt
And starting today, Illinois teens have one more argument: In a
symbolic win for legalization forces that did not change local laws,
Cook County residents voted in favor of legalizing recreational
marijuana use by a wide margin Tuesday, with 68 percent in favor and
32 percent against.
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WEST BRIDGEWATER - The class had covered bullying, Internet safety,
and good decision-making, and by February, Officer Kenneth Thaxter
could see that the sixth-graders were ready.
The lights went off, and the projector went on.
"Today," the DARE officer said, "we're going to talk about marijuana."
For 16 years, every elementary school student in this small town has
learned about drugs from Thaxter. But this year, his lesson needed to
change, and he was about to find out whether the students knew why.
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FRANKFORT -- Four law enforcement officials and a doctor urged state
lawmakers Tuesday to say no to a bill that would legalize medical marijuana.
For more than an hour, opponents of House Bill 166 told members of the
House Judiciary Committee the ills they see in it.
Their predictions about passage of the measure included an increase in
crime, creation of trafficking problems along the state's borders, an
enhancement of economic and social costs, temptations of children to
use marijuana and uncertain physical outcomes over long-term usage.
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The Rothman Institute at Jefferson, one of the nation's largest
orthopedic practices, announced Thursday it would collaborate on a
study to investigate the benefits of medical marijuana for patients
suffering from chronic and acute pain.
Rothman will work with Franklin BioScience, a Colorado-based cannabis
grower and retailer. Franklin BioScience expects to open a medical
marijuana dispensary in late-March called Beyond Hello in Bristol
Township, Bucks County.
"There's a link between access to cannabis and reduced opioid
overdoses," said physician Ari Greis, a Rothman pain management
specialist who will oversee the research. "We're all being cautiously
optimistic that it could be helpful to some of our patients. Because
we're leaders in orthopedic medicine, we feel this is an opportunity
we can't pass up."
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