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Jimmy John's Driver Charged in Death of 5-year-old

little boy rides bike

WAYLAND, Mich. — A Jimmy John's delivery driver was formally charged with drugged driving in the death of 5-year-old Blake Huffman, according to Channel 3 News.

Amber Collige, 33, had just finished a delivery when she struck the young boy with her vehicle on July 6. Collige later admitted to smoking weed several hours before the incident.

The 33-year-old told police that she smoked half a bowl of marijuana nearly 12 hours prior to the accident, which occurred around 7 p.m. in the Windsor Woods Village trailer park community.

Huffman was riding his bicycle at the time of the accident and was pronounced dead at the scene. His grandmother said that it was the first time he had ridden the bike without training wheels and had just given his older sister a celebratory high five before he was struck by Collige's vehicle. The autopsy report revealed that the boy died from multiple blunt force trauma.

Driver Had One Nanogram Per Milliliter of THC in Her System

Collige was charged with drugged driving after her blood test came back positive for THC, the ingredient in marijuana that causes psychoactive effects. Marijuana can remain in the system for several weeks or even months but the psychoactive effects only last approximately 1-3 hours. Collige said that she consumes marijuana on a daily basis but did not consume any within the time period when she was going to be working.

Blood test results confirmed that Collige had one nanogram per milliliter of THC in her system, a negligible amount, which suggests that she was being truthful when she said that she last smoked marijuana nearly 12 hours before the tragedy.

Collige said that she saw the little boy enter the road in front of her Toyota SUV and slammed on her breaks, but it was too late, and Huffman was thrown from his bike and run over. Police confirmed that the rear wheels of the SUV were not operating effectively and noted that Collige was driving between 27 to 32 mph at the time of the accident. The speed limit in the community is only 15 mph. A witness confirmed Collige's version of the incident to the police.

Collige is no longer employed with Jimmy John's and is expected back in court on Oct. 11 for a probable cause hearing.

Snyder Nixes Tax Break for Plane Parts, Bans Pot-Laced Beer

michigan skyline at night with moon

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday vetoed bills that would have exempted additional aircraft parts from state taxes, citing concerns about the $4 million impact on Michigan’s budget.

The state already does not apply the 6 percent sales or use tax to parts used in commercial aircraft or installed on aircraft that are flown into Michigan temporarily for repairs. The legislation would have extended the exemption to all aircraft parts, excluding drones.

The Republican governor wrote in a letter to lawmakers that considering tax exemptions before there is a “more complete picture” on incoming revenues and spending priorities “represents a change in course from the fiscally responsible principles that have helped put our state back on solid financial ground over the last eight years.”

The tax break would have cost the $24 billion school aid and general funds roughly $4 million a year, according to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency. The bills were approved 36-0 by the GOP-led Senate last month, and 71-37 and 70-38 by the Republican-controlled House in May.

The sponsor, GOP Rep. Bronna Kahle of Adrian, said she is disappointed because the legislation would have helped Michigan aircraft repair companies — including one in Lenawee County — compete with out-of-state businesses.

“My plan would keep Michigan jobs right here in Michigan, and eliminate an unfair tax situation that now provides competitors in Ohio, Indiana and other neighboring states with an unfair advantage at our expense,” Kahle said in a statement, adding that she will continue pushing for the change.

Also Tuesday, Snyder signed into law six measures — including an immediate state ban on the sale, use or possession of marijuana-infused beer, wine, mixed drinks and liquor. Federal law already makes such substances illegal, according to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency. Supporters said the state should be proactive, though, before Michigan voters next month decide if marijuana should be made legal for recreational use.

The state ban against marijuana-infused drinks does not apply to hospitals, universities, colleges and pharmaceutical companies doing research.

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Court: Suspects Leaving San Francisco Jail Can Get Pot Back

san fran bridge with water under it

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) A San Francisco court has made it easier for suspects released from the city jail to get back their legally obtained marijuana along with items like keys, money and other property confiscated from them when they are placed under arrest and detained.

The San Francisco Superior Court decision made public Monday said police, judges and law enforcement officials are shielded from federal prosecution when they return less than an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana to released suspects who ask to get back their seized property.

San Francisco police had refused to return to Robert T. Smith 21 grams of marijuana seized from his backpack during a January disturbing the peace arrest.

Charges were dropped and Proposition 64 in November 2016 made possession of less than an ounce of marijuana legal in California. Possession of medical marijuana obtained with a doctor’s recommendation has been legal in California since 1996. Marijuana in all forms remains illegal under federal law.

Smith’s attorney, University of San Francisco law professor Lara Bazelon, said she has represented three people who have had trouble getting their legally obtained marijuana returned by San Francisco police.

“It should be like getting your shoes back,” Bazelon said. “But it isn’t.”

Police had argued that they feared they could face federal drug distribution charges by giving Smith back his marijuana. A trial court judge agreed with officers in an April decision.

But a three-judge panel of the same court overturned the April decision, citing an earlier ruling that said California law enforcement officials are shielded from federal prosecution when returning medical marijuana legally obtained with a doctor’s recommendation.

The most recent ruling said law enforcement officials are protected from prosecution involving illegal drugs and marijuana while enforcing the law. It cited the federal Controlled Substance Act that explicitly allows law enforcement officials to legally handle drugs when the officers are “lawfully engaged in the enforcement of any law or municipal ordinance relating to controlled substances.”

San Francisco Police department spokesman David Stevenson did not return email and telephone messages seeking comment.

Exploring Stand Up Comedy And Cannabis

stand up comedy

When you're a stoner, watching stand up comedy sober can feel like watching Bob Ross paint in black and white: technically right, but lacking soul. Cannabis adds an edge of unhinged hilarity to comedy routines that sobriety just can't compete with. Bad stand up comedy, the type that makes you cringe in your seat and pray for the next act, especially benefits from having a high audience. Plus, there's a reason so many stand up comedians smoke weed, and we can probably agree it isn't insomnia. While not all comedians are pro-cannabis, a good many support, endorse, and even openly consume the herb in question. It stands to reason then, if the entertainers themselves are combining weed with their humor, that there may be some connection. But what is actually is the connection between stand up comedy and cannabis, and why does it exist?

What Connects stand up Comedy And Cannabis?

Do stoners seek out comedy, or does comedy attract stoners? This cyclical, chicken/egg question makes finding the connection between stand up comedy and cannabis seem impossible. Not all stoners like comedy, and not all comedians smoke, but that doesn't erase the connection between the two activities. Maybe stoners enjoy stand up comedy shows because they're easy to locate and generally inexpensive. College campuses, bars, backyards, and professional theaters are just a few places you're likely to find some decent stand up routines. But then what makes stand up comedy different from movies or plays for stoners? Just a few key elements that relate stand up comedy and cannabis:

Comedy And Weed Both Make You Laugh

Why are stoner comedies common, but not stoner tragedies or romances? Because people who smoke weed are usually looking for entertainment that will make them laugh! Studies show that there is a definite connection between cannabis and laughter, which anyone who has smoked weed can easily attest to. A stand up comedy show is the perfect place to get high and laugh along with hundreds of people. With weed-induced euphoria and laughter's contagious nature, combining stand up comedy and cannabis makes sense. The ultimate goal for both, after all, is unmitigated, unrestrained laughter. Even bad comedy can make you laugh so hard you cry, but only if you're high enough!

Comedy And Weed Are Entertaining

stand up comedy routines are easy to watch, which is always a good thing when you're too stoned to function. All you have to do is sit in a dark room and watch someone tell jokes! stand up (or at least good stand up) is also accessible, snappy, and clear, which means that no stoner gets left behind. And when you consider that many common stoner hobbies are sedentary (video games, TV, drum circles, meditation, etc...), the connection between stand up comedy and cannabis becomes even more clear. Watching a comedy routine isn't hard work, both mentally and physically, and easy entertainment is probably ideal for most indica-induced weed hazes. People consume cannabis recreationally for the same reason they watch stand up comedy: to be entertained!

Comedy And Weed Are Social

We all know that socializing after smoking weed can be difficult, especially if you're surrounded by a bunch of people you don't know. stand up comedy shows allow stoners to enjoy all the benefits of having a really funny friend without having to respond/keep up with the conversation. It's a risk-free way to immerse yourself in a social situation while high! You can even bring friends along for the ride. Since studies show that laughing with people actually makes you closer, it's the perfect way to spend quality time with someone without exerting any effort whatsoever! Smoke some weed, go to the show, and spend an evening laughing, bonding, and maybe even crying, all without saying a word.

Does Cannabis Make stand up Comedy Better?

Whether or not cannabis makes stand up comedy more enjoyable is entirely subjective. However, it's pretty safe to say that if you already like weed and stand up, combining the two can only make things better. Weed is a mood enhancer that promotes laughter, and one could argue that stand up comedy does the same thing. Combining the two will make you laugh harder, longer, and probably louder than you wanted to in such a public setting. Edibles are great for stand up shows since they last longer than other methods of cannabis consumption, and are generally stronger too. And if you take too much and really don't want to go out in public, it's still possible to enjoy stand up comedy and cannabis in the comfort of your own home. Just smoke a joint (or two or three), press play, and decide if stand up comedy and cannabis are connected for yourself.

Michigan Bans Marijuana-Infused Alcoholic Drinks

two teens share weed and a beer

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation to immediately prohibit marijuana-infused alcoholic drinks in Michigan.

The law enacted Tuesday bars the use, possession or sale of marijuana-infused beer, wine, liquor and mixed drinks.

Supporters say the bill is a pre-emptive move in case Michigan voters next month legalize marijuana for recreational use. They say marijuana-infused alcohol could exacerbate intoxicated driving.

Opponents say the legislation is a solution to a nonexistent problem because there is no commercial market for marijuana-infused beverages. They say even if the ballot initiatives passes, liquor establishments could not sell marijuana beverages because of a federal pot ban.

The new law does not apply to hospitals, universities, colleges and pharmaceutical companies doing research. The bill won overwhelmingly approval from lawmakers.

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Canada is ready to open the door wide to legal marijuana

weed leaf in hand against blue background

TORONTO (AP) — Tom Clarke has been dealing marijuana illegally in Canada for 30 years. He wrote in his high school yearbook that his dream was to open a cafe in Amsterdam, the Dutch city where people have legally smoked weed in coffee shops since the 1970s.

Turns out, Clarke didn’t have to go nearly so far to open his own retail cannabis outlet.

On Wednesday, Canada becomes the second and largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace. Uruguay was first. Clarke, 43, will be among the first to legally sell recreational marijuana when his shop opens at midnight in Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost province.

“I am living my dream. Teenage Tom Clarke is loving what I am doing with my life right now,” he said.

At least 111 legal pot shops are planning to open across the nation of 37 million people on the first day, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces. That is a small slice of what ultimately will be a much larger marketplace.

No stores will open in Ontario, which includes Toronto. The most populous province is working on its regulations and doesn’t expect stores until next spring.

Canadians everywhere will be able to order marijuana products through websites run by provinces or private retailers and have it delivered to their homes by mail.

Longtime pot fan Ryan Bose, 48, a Lyft driver in Toronto, said it’s about time.

“Alcohol took my grandfather and it took his youngest son, and weed has taken no one from me ever,” he said.

Canada has had legal medical marijuana since 2001, and amid excitement over the arrival of legal recreational pot, many in the industry spent the last days of prohibition on tasks familiar to any retail business — completing displays, holding mock openings and training employees to use sales-tracking software.

“It’s been hectic,” said Roseanne Dampier, who joined her husband — both former welders — in opening Alternative Greens, a licensed store in Edmonton, Alberta. “We have been extremely busy just trying to be able to meet that deadline.”

Canada’s federal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, spent about two years planning for legalization, fueled by a desire to bring dealers like Clarke out of the black market and into a regulated system.

Canada’s national approach has allowed for unfettered industry banking, inter-province shipments of cannabis and billions of dollars in investment — a sharp contrast with national prohibition in the United States. Nine U.S. states have legalized recreational use of pot, and more than 30 have approved medical marijuana.

“Now that our neighbor to the north is opening its legal cannabis market, the longer we delay, the longer we miss out on potentially significant economic opportunities for Oregon and other states across the country,” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said in a statement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection invited Canadian media to a conference call on Tuesday so officials could reiterate that marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law and that those who are caught at the border with pot are subject to arrest and prosecution.

A patchwork of regulations has spread in Canada as each province takes its own approach within the framework set out by the federal government. Some are operating government-run stores, some are allowing private retailers, some both.

Alberta and Quebec have set the minimum age for purchase at 18, while others have made it 19.

The provinces also have been able to decide for themselves how much to mark up the marijuana beyond the 10 percent or $1 per gram imposed by the federal government, and whether to allow residents to grow up to four plants at home.

Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based lobbying organization that has been pressing for legalization since 1995, said it is time for the U.S. to follow Canada’s lead.

“Canada is setting a strong example for how to end marijuana prohibition at the national level and replace it with a system of regulated production and sales that is largely governed at the local level,” he said. “The U.S. and other countries grappling with the complexities of such a significant policy shift will have an excellent opportunity to learn from the Canadian experience.”

As Canada welcomes legalization, supply shortages could develop, as happened in some U.S. states when legalization arrived.

Trevor Fencott, chief executive of Fire and Flower, said his company has 15 Alberta stores staffed and ready to sell marijuana, but the province has supplied only enough product to open three of them Wednesday.

“We’re aware of some of the kinks or growing pains that come with creating an industry out of whole cloth in 24 months,” Fencott said.

Brenda Tobin and her son Trevor plan to open their pot shop in Labrador City in Newfoundland and Labrador at 4:20 p.m., a reference to 420, slang for the consumption of cannabis. Tobin, a longtime convenience store owner, said they will be cutting a ribbon and cake.

“We are just ecstatic,” she said.

She doesn’t expect to make much money off the pot itself, noting Newfoundland’s 8 percent cap on retail pot profits. She hopes to make money from pipes, bongs and marijuana paraphernalia.

“There’s no money in the product itself,” she said. “You got to sell $250,000 worth of product in order to make $20,000. That’s not even paying someone’s salary.”

Ontario won’t have any stores open until April, after the new conservative government scrapped a plan for state-owned stores in favor of privately run shops. British Columbia on the Pacific Coast will have just one store open on Wednesday, but many more are expected to open in coming months.

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Editorial Roundup: Recent Editorials in Oklahoma Newspapers

pot plant in hand against black background

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

The Norman Transcript. Oct. 14, 2018.

— Voting is when speech turns to action

It’s easy to complain about what’s going on in our country and our state. But it takes effort to do something about it.

Millennials have a negative reputation for talking a big game but not backing it up with effort. And while that negative connotation is both inaccurate and cyclical, there is one negative stereotype that millennials should be concerned with shaking: they don’t vote, at least not nearly as much as their parents and grandparents.

According to the Pew Research Center, baby boomers reached their peak voting population in 2004 and in 2016, they still made up the largest percentage of the electorate: 48 million voters. In the 2016 presidential election, roughly 70 percent of eligible Baby Boomers voted, compared to only 50 percent of eligible Millennials.

Eligible Millennials and Generation X voters now outnumber older generations — the Silent Generation, Greatest Generation and boomers — but Millennials have been slower to ramp up voter participation than earlier generations. That could change this year, or at least move in a better direction. And that’s something everyone should be rooting for, because our form of government only operates effectively when its leaders are selected by an informed and engaged electorate.

In Oklahoma, the Nov. 6 elections seem to have a lot of energy around them for midterms. That’s certainly due, in part, to what’s happening at the federal level. But state issues and the high number of contested state offices have been driving Oklahomans to register to vote in droves: more than 75,000 Oklahomans registered to vote through the first nine months of the year, and that number will be much larger after Friday’s deadline.

If Oklahomans learned anything from the teacher walkout, it’s that statewide change is possible, even if it takes tremendous effort (and a lot of new legislators). The lineup of leaders we’ll select on November will have a profound impact on the future of our state. It’s vitally important those decisions are informed decisions.

Now that you’ve registered to vote, make sure you get out and vote. The future of our state and our country depends on it.

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Tulsa World. Oct. 15, 2018.

Congress needs to catch up with the rest of the nation on medical marijuana.

Once again, Oklahoma’s move toward medical marijuana is running into complications because of outdated federal policy.

In the eyes of the feds, the medical marijuana your grandmother might seek to deal with the side effects of her chemotherapy is a Schedule I drug. That puts it in the same category as LSD and heroin.

The medical marijuana dispensaries the state is preparing to license could be raided by the DEA at any point. If Oklahoma bankers handle their accounts, they could end up at odds with their federal banking overseers as surely as if they were working with the profits of Mexican drug cartels.

That essentially turns marijuana dispensaries into cash-only businesses, which creates some ridiculous, but entirely plausible, scenarios. For example, the state requires dispensaries to pay their state sales taxes by the 20th of every month, and the only place to pay it is at the Oklahoma Tax Commission office at the state Capitol complex. The tax commission doesn’t have the resources to handle lines of people carrying wads of cash, but that’s the way things are headed.

That may be fixable, but not without some strange business practices for the state and the dispensaries. The right way to do business is to allow the dispensaries to act like any other business in the state and open a checking account.

Thirty states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana. In Oklahoma, the supposedly reddest state in the nation, the medical marijuana proposal passed with 57 percent of the vote. The people of the United States have made a decision, and it’s time for their federal government to live with it.

Congress needs to reform laws and rules to allow for modest medical marijuana commerce and turn the nation’s banking regulators to far more dangerous, pernicious forces within the economy.

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The Oklahoman. Oct. 16, 2018.

— Kentucky stats undermine Medicaid narrative

Advocates of Medicaid expansion argue, correctly, that it can drive down the uninsured rate. Whether a lower uninsured rate translates into better health outcomes is less certain, as a comparison of Oklahoma and Kentucky demonstrates.

Oklahoma and Kentucky are demographically and culturally similar and often compared. Officials in Kentucky expanded Medicaid to include many able-bodied adults, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act. Oklahoma officials did not. Since then, Kentucky’s uninsured rate has fallen to 5.38 percent, which is eighth-best nationally. In contrast, Oklahoma ranks 49th with 14.16 percent of residents uninsured.

The question isn’t whether Medicaid expansion lowers the uninsured rate, but whether Medicaid coverage improves health access and outcomes. Each year the United Health Foundation issues a health ranking of the 50 states. In 2017, the most recent year available, it ranked Oklahoma 43rd in the nation. Kentucky ranked 42nd.

The foundation found Kentucky continues to have a high prevalence of smoking, a high cancer death rate, and a high preventable hospitalization rate. In the past three years, the report found diabetes increased 24 percent in Kentucky, and in the past 10 years drug deaths increased 85 percent.

Of 33 core measures reviewed, the foundation gave Kentucky negative marks in 22.

Since 1990, the highest ranking Kentucky has received in the foundation report is 39th in 2008, which was before Medicaid expansion, and the lowest was 47th in 2014, after Medicaid expansion.

The foundation’s Oklahoma findings ding the state for a high cardiovascular death rate, high infant mortality rate and declining immunization rate among children. Since 1990, Oklahoma’s worst ranking was 49th in both 2007 and 2009 with modest improvement recorded since then.

In both states, poor health rankings appear tied to personal behaviors as much as or more than insurance coverage. People who smoke, don’t exercise and have poor nutritional habits are going to have more health problems regardless of insurance status.

It’s been argued Medicaid expansion benefits hospitals’ financial stability, particularly in rural areas. Some research has shown Medicaid-expansion states have experienced a slower rate of hospital closures than non-expansion states. But it’s notable that earlier this year when Becker’s Hospital CFO Report compiled a list of the seven states with the most rural hospital closures, Kentucky was among them. Since 2010, four rural hospitals have closed in Kentucky. And, according to recent news reports, another hospital could soon be added to that list: 462-bed Jewish Hospital in Louisville, which primarily serves the poor and elderly.

While federal funds cover most costs of Medicaid expansion, the state must still provide matching funds. In August, The Associated Press reported Kentucky’s Medicaid program faced a nearly $300 million state shortfall. Keep in mind, Kentucky is among the states hit by teacher strikes this year. More money for Medicaid constrains spending elsewhere, including schools.

Supporters of Medicaid expansion imply lower rates of uninsured citizens will translate into across-the-board health improvement among citizens. The fact that Kentucky continues to rank alongside Oklahoma suggests otherwise.

Recent Kansas Editorials

kansas

The Topeka Capital-Journal, Oct. 13

Flu shot protects you and many more

As we dig deeper into the fall season, take a few minutes in the coming days to visit your doctor, pharmacy or other health care provider and get a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone over 6 months of age be vaccinated before the end of the month.

Why are flu shots important? Why are we taking up this space today?

Quite simply, the flu is deadly. You shouldn’t confuse influenza — a serious, lengthy respiratory illness — with minor gastrointestinal bugs. Those aren’t the real flu. The actual illness can prove fatal for the young, the elderly or those whose immune systems are compromised in some way.

The numbers aren’t small, either. According to a story from the Associated Press last month, some 80,000 people died last winter from the flu and associated complications. While that was an unusually bad year, thousands upon thousands die even in “light” flu seasons.

And while the flu vaccine is seldom 100 percent effective, it’s important to understand why that is, and why the vaccine still benefits the public overall. Influenza viruses mutate every year, and scientists essentially have to guess what strains will dominate in an upcoming season. The lengthy time needed to produce the vaccine in mass quantities mean that researchers don’t have time to adjust if new varieties arise at the last possible moment.

Vaccination is also important because of the concept of herd immunity.

Yes, you might be healthy and robust and able to withstand the vicissitudes of infection. But what about the nice senior citizens you say hello to on your morning walk? What about the month-old baby resting in the carrier at the table next to yours in the restaurant?

You can be certain you’ll recover from the flu. But can you be certain that they will?

Vaccines don’t just work because an individual gets a shot. They work because a population gets the shot, making transmission of viruses exponentially more difficult. There will always be certain people who can’t be vaccinated because of age or health. If everyone around them is, these folks are protected.

A flu shot, in other words, isn’t just about keeping you safe. It’s about the responsibility you hold to the community around you. It’s about taking care of those who might not be as robust as you are. It’s about responsibility.

So get the shot. Your arm might sting for a day. But you can literally save lives.

____

The Iola Register, Oct. 15

Former Gov. Sam Brownback wanted his legacy to be as a champion of education. His favorite photo-op was him reading to toddlers, as he touted all-day kindergarten and summer and after-school literacy programs as well as career and tech programs.

But when he refused to fund those programs, and more, that picture quickly tarnished.

Of everything Sam Brownback will be remembered for is the colossal failure of his tax cut “experiment,” among the largest ever imposed on the state.

In their first year, Brownback’s tax cuts in 2013 caused state revenues to plummet by $700 million. In three years’ time, state aid to public schools was down 13 percent, forcing schools to lay off teachers and staff, eliminate valuable programs and, in essence, take our reputation as a state that values education down a notch.

It was only when legislators developed a spine in June 2017 and overturned Brownback’s tax cuts that Kansas has been able to start clawing its way back to a more solid financial footing, including putting money back into schools.

Even so, remnants of the cuts remain.

In a report last week by the Board of Education came the news that Kansas schools are short 612 teachers, up 19 percent from last year.

Years of cuts and below-average earnings have turned Kansas students away from the teaching profession. Schools of education are experiencing record-low enrollments.

KRIS KOBACH, no doubt, values education. After all, he’s got degrees from Harvard, Yale and Oxford, and we’re guessing those fancy diplomas didn’t come in the mail.

Like Brownback, Kobach wants to cut income taxes if elected governor, and, like Brownback, says it just takes “smart spending” for those cuts not to hurt.

So where did Brownback go wrong?

He discovered a penny is a penny, and no matter how much you value schools, highways, public health and safety, when there’s not enough resources, everything suffers.

Brownback proved that cutting taxes does not create economic prosperity for Kansas. Reduced taxes means reduced income. Every time. No matter who is governor.

Why some think Kobach could do it differently and are willing to put the state through this experiment all over again is a puzzle.

You get what you pay for

Our biggest tool in fighting poverty is to provide all children the best education we can afford. The longer a student stays in school, the better is his or her earning potential once out into the workforce.

This is why investing in public schools yields such a great return on the dollar.

In fact, according to a study posted by the Kansas Association of School Boards, the state’s improved education levels since 1990 have resulted in almost $7 billion in additional earnings, more than that spent on K-12 education, as well as a reduction in our overall poverty rates by 18.5 percent.

Staying in school and learning a marketable skill is the ticket out of poverty.

KOBACH contends he’s never said he wants to cut school funding. He doesn’t have to. But, like Brownback, if he enacts widespread tax cuts, the writing is on the wall.

____

Lawrence Journal-World, Oct. 11

Lower penalties for marijuana

Lawrence city commissioners are right to support reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

At a work session Tuesday, commissioners were unanimous in backing a change to the city ordinance regarding marijuana possession to lessen punishments, which are more severe than what state law requires.

State law requires no minimum fine for first-time offenders convicted of marijuana possession and no mandatory drug evaluation. Under the city’s ordinance, first-time offenders pay a minimum fine of $200, plus court costs, and must also pay for and undergo a drug evaluation. Both city ordinance and state law set a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or 180 days in jail.

First-time offenders in Lawrence typically pay the minimum $200 fine, $63 for court costs, $85 to $150 for a mandatory drug evaluation and additional costs if education or counseling is required. Defendants also receive a 90-day suspended jail sentence, meaning the sentence isn’t served unless a subsequent violation occurs, and a six-month probation requiring court appearances monthly or every two months until all obligations are met, according to a presentation to the commission.

To receive a diversion for marijuana possession, City Prosecutor Elizabeth Hafoka said, the city typically charges $100 more. Commissioner Jennifer Ananda, an attorney and social worker, rightly noted that practice was unfairly burdensome on poorer residents and made it easier for the wealthy to walk away with a clean record.

“I think it’s a broader issue than just this specific ordinance, but I do have concerns with that,” Ananda said. “Looking at criminal history and how it impacts one’s future, and when you have money then you’re able to have less of an impact.”

The marijuana topic was raised this summer by Lawrence resident Laura Green, who asked the commission to reduce the fine to $25 and to remove the drug-abuse evaluation requirement. Green said the penalties, in addition to being financially burdensome, were not in line with shifting public attitudes regarding marijuana.

Commissioners indicated a reduction in the minimum fine to perhaps $50 was warranted. They also indicated support for either eliminating the mandatory drug evaluation or leaving the evaluation to the discretion of a judge.

Both steps are appropriate. Use of marijuana, now legal for medicinal purposes in several states and for recreational use in a handful, is more broadly accepted than ever before. A recent Gallup poll showed 62 percent of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana. In such an environment, common sense dictates that the city of Lawrence would reduce marijuana penalties.

Man Who Killed Alleged Home Invader Challenges Drug Charge

weed plant and buds against black background

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP)A Massachusetts man who fatally shot an alleged home invader is arguing evidence in his marijuana possession case should be thrown out.

Twenty-two-year-old Dimitri Bryant faces no charges in the shooting of 48-year-old Benny Flores, but was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute after the Feb. 11 shooting. Masslive.com reports Bryant is currently awaiting trial on the drug case in Hampden Superior Court.

Bryant’s lawyer has filed a motion to suppress evidence, arguing a police search that turned up evidence in the drug case did not properly establish probable cause to search Bryant’s home.

Palmer police said they found around $32,875 in cash, 20 pounds of marijuana, THC products and packaging supplies inside Bryant’s residence.

NY Lawmakers to Hold Hearing on Legalization of Marijuana

new york city skyline at night and sunset

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)Lawmakers in the New York state Assembly are preparing for a hearing on proposals to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Four Assembly committees will meet Tuesday in Manhattan for the joint hearing, which comes two months before lawmakers reconvene in Albany for the 2019 session.

Earlier this year the state’s Department of Health put out a report recommending the legalization of marijuana, and it’s expected to be a major debate in next year’s session.

The details of any specific legislative proposal must still be worked out — including how the drug will be taxed and regulated.

State health officials are themselves holding a series of hearings around the state to hear from the public on the issue.

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