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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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Photo: The Malay Mail
Alam Setiawan, 39, being led out of court Friday after being sentenced to death.

​Marijuana can’t kill you, but marijuana laws can. A 39-year-old Indonesian laborer on Friday was sentenced to death for the trafficking of cannabis.

Alam Setiawan from Tanjung Asahan Balai was arrested on April 25 after he was caught with 1,732 grams (just under four pounds) of marijuana at a fertilizer warehouse in Port Klang, reports Darshini Kandasamy in The Malay Mail.
Shah Alam High Court Judge Mohd Yazid said the defense failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Alam’s claim that the culprit was another Indonesian man named Udin.
Alam said it was Udin, not him, who had thrown a plastic bag containing two bricks of cannabis into the ocean during the raid.
The judge said Alam’s claim was not believable, and that Udin was a fictitious character.

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AP Photo
They wanted to make a Palin version, but it stopped working halfway through the trip.

​Police in Palmview, Texas last week seized a batch of reputed Ecstasy pills made in the image of President Barack Obama, Ryan Smith reports on CBS’ Crimesider blog.

A stash of the orange tablets was found last Monday during a south Texas traffic stop.
The 22-year-old driver had a drug collection of Hunter S. Thompson-esque proportions. Found in the car were black tar heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, along with the supposed Obama Ecstasy. He’s expected to face multiple felony drug possession charges.

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Graphic: Reality Catcher
It may be time to enter Nevada in the “Which state will legalize pot first?” betting.

​Following ballot initiatives to tax and regulate marijuana in Nevada in 2002 and 2006, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) of Nevada is preparing for the next step in its fight to make marijuana legal in the Silver State.

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, MPP-NV will make an announcement at a press conference in front of the Clark County Government Center at 11 a.m. While specific details of the plan will not be revealed until then, Dave Schwartz, manager of the group, hinted that a ballot measure to tax and regulate may be in the works.
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