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Photo: Gerald Nino
U.S. Customs and Border Protection unmanned drone: Big Brother is watching you.

​The U.S. Homeland Security Department is expanding its use of unmanned drone aircraft, widely used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war zones, beyond the Mexican and Canadian borders to the Caribbean and possibly elsewhere.

The department already owns five of the aircraft, reports Randal C. Archibold in The New York Times. The drones, known as Predator B craft, already operate along the Mexican border from a installation in Arizona and along the Canadian border from a base in North Dakota.
Homeland Security assures us that these drones, unlike those used by the military, do not carry weapons and are purely for surveillance.

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Photo: Zack Clark
Honduran police face a tough fight with drug traffickers, despite plenty of Yankee dollars.

​The top anti-drug cop in Honduras was killed by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday, a national police spokesman told CNN, Mariano Castillo reports.

Gen. Julian Gonzalez, director of the Office for Combatting Drug Trafficking, was shot in his SUV by two people on a motorcycle, according to police spokesman Orlin Cerrato.
No arrests have been made, and the investigation remains active, Cerrato said.

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MPP-NV
Nevadans, do you want legal marijuana? Sign the initiative, then get out and vote in 2012

​Nevadans, after turning down similar initiatives in 2002 and 2006, may get to vote again on legalizing marijuana in 2012.

Dave Schwartz, manager of the Marijuana Policy Project of Nevada (MPP-NV), announced today that he has filed documents with the Nevada Secretary of State establishing a Ballot Advocacy Group to support an initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for persons 21 or older.

Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws has been organized to conduct a signature drive in 2010 that will place an initiative on the November 2012 ballot. The committee says it will file the language of the initiative with the state in January.

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Painting: James Montgomery Flagg
Hey, Congress: I want YOU to respect the will of the people

​In a historic move, Congress is poised to end a decade-long ban on implementation of the medical marijuana law passed with a 69 percent majority by voters in the District of Columbia in 1998.

Known as the Barr Amendment, after its author, then-Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), the provision — a rider attached to appropriations for D.C. — has forbidden the District from extending legal protection to qualified medical marijuana patients.
The Barr Amendment has been derided by advocates for years as an unconscionable intrusion by the federal government into the democratically expressed will of the District’s people.
The omnibus spending bill that Democratic leaders will be bringing to a vote in the House later this week removes this onerous provision. Once both chambers of Congress approve the final language and the President signs it, the Barr Amendment will no longer block medical marijuana in the District of Columbia.

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SAFER
Man, I wish I had designed that logo.

​The unstoppable Mason Tvert (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, SAFER) and his really cool mom, Diane — who almost steals the show — both believe marijuana is a safer choice than alcohol.

They got a chance to air their views in this feature story from a Phoenix TV station, which for “balance” also includes an unhappy anti-pot young lady who tries to convince us marijuana is horribly dangerous.
When you get a chance, you really should get the book Mason co-authored with NORML‘s Paul Armentano and MPP‘s Steve Fox. It’s called Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People To Drink?, and it’s a great read.

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Photo: Coaster420
Medical marijuana: Will Pennsylvania become the Keystoned State? Oh, yeah… Stereotypes bad.

​ The good news, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News, is that Pennsylvania is finally having a discussion about medical marijuana.

The bad news? “In our socially conservative state this is likely as far as the debate will go on the issue,” the editorial says.
Pennsylvania’s House Health and Human Services Committee last week heard from patients, doctors, and medical marijuana advocates who said the state should legalize the herb for those suffering debilitating medical conditions.

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Photo: Psychonaught
Five of these? Yes, please. (Super Silver Haze sativa/indica hybrid)

​​The government of the Czech Republic in eastern Europe will allow ordinary citizens to grow up to five marijuana plants starting Jan. 1, 2010.

The cabinet of Prime Minister Jan Fischer defined “personal use” amounts of cannabis and other drugs, clarifying the nation’s new penal code that will decriminalize cultivation and possession of pot. 
While marijuana will remain technically illegal, possession will be punished only with fines comparable to those imposed for parking tickets, Sean Carney at the Wall Street Journal reports.
​What constituted “small amounts” for personal use was previously undefined. Police and the courts loosely interpreted the laws on a case by case basis, often resulting in home marijuana growers being jailed.

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Graphic: Reality Catcher
The State of Maine will be selling marijuana by spring.

​A 14-member task force assigned by Gov. John E. Baldacci is trying to iron out the kinks in Maine’s new medical marijuana law so it can be implemented by its deadline at the beginning of April, 2010.

The committee, made up of state officials, police, medical professionals and others, meets today to address potential problems in the law voters approved in November.
The new law allows for state-run medical marijuana dispensaries, and also expands the conditions for which medical marijuana can be legally used in Maine.
Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since the Maine Medical Marijuana Act of 1998. This year’s voter initiative was designed to solve the conundrum of where those patients, legal for 11 years now, are supposed to buy their medicine.

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Photo: Laurie Avocado
Whenever City Council’s in session, look out.

​San Diego’s task force on medical marijuana will present its land-use recommendations to the city council today.

According to the task force, any businesses that dispense medical marijuana in San Diego should be required to apply for a land use permit, and should only be allowed in industrial or commercial zones, Tom Fudge reports at KPBS.
The task force also recommends that dispensaries shouldn’t be located within 1,000 feet of a school, or within 500 feet of another dispensary.
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