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Florida lawmakers want to give veterans medical marijuana cards for free
SARASOTA, Fla. — With data continuing to roll in that underscores the health benefits of cannabis, two Florida legislators aren't waiting for clarity in the national policy debates and are sponsoring bills designed to give medical marijuana cards to military veterans free of charge.
Last week, the Journal of Psychopharmacology added yet another study to the growing body of evidence pointing to the linkage between marijuana use and the alleviation of post-traumatic stress disorder. In a cross-section survey of Canadians, the authors reported depressive episodes and suicidal ideation was not a factor among cannabis users; consequently, they cited "an emerging need for high-quality experimental investigation" of cannabis in treating PTSD.
At virtually the same time that study published, state Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, and state Rep. Adam Hattersley, D-Riverview, introduced companion measures to waive the $75 state registration fee for veterans, who are committing suicide more than 20 times a day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hattersley is an Iraq War veteran who earned a Bronze Star in the Navy. The bills will be considered in the 2020 session.
Still, the national war on marijuana continues at what appears to be an accelerating pace, according to FBI statistics released in October.
The Bureau's Uniform Crime Report indicates law enforcement made 663,367 arrests in 2018, marking the third consecutive year that marijuana-related arrests have risen, and 90% of those arrests were for simple possession. The 2018 figures are also roughly 21% higher than the number arrests for violent crimes.
A major marijuana mishap created a splash of national headlines in New York City on Nov. 2, when Brooklyn police arrested licensed CBD dealer Ronen Levy and confiscated 106 pounds of legal hemp. Hemp has minimal traces of psychoactive THC, but it looks and smells like regular cannabis and is used for medicinal and industrial purposes.
According to a Gallup Poll released last month, 66% of Americans — a super-majority — support marijuana legalization. But this week, rock legend Neil Young announced that his hopes of officially joining the American family have been stymied by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy.
A resident of California for decades, the Canadian-born "Godfather of Grunge" and longtime cannabis consumer said his application had been stalled, citing agency language stating "an applicant who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack good moral character if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity has been decriminalized under applicable state laws."
The new bills proposed by Hattersley and Cruz apparently ignore the USCIS's definition of good moral character in deference to Florida's 1.5 million veterans.
"After seeing the response on social media to the legislation," Cruz stated in an email to the Herald-Tribune, "I believe it is met with broad bipartisan support among our constituents. I am hopeful that my colleagues will come to understand that this could be used as an alternative treatment to opioids currently being used for chronic pain management.
"Senate Bill 98 is for service-disabled veterans, those who certainly need chronic pain treatment and access to alternative treatment options."
Should the proposal become law, it could set a national precedent, according to the nonprofit Americans for Safe Access.
"Some states do not include a cost for the medical cannabis card at all (NM)," writes Interim ASA Director Debbie Churgai. "IL offers veterans a discounted cost, OR offers a veteran discount that reduces the fee to $20, and there are a few other states that offer need-based discounts.
"So it is possible FL may be the first to charge a registration fee but offer a free application to vets."
©2019 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
SAN DIEGO — Days after Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to a federal felony related to a yearslong campaign finance scandal, he has finally stated explicitly that he will resign from his congressional seat before the end of his term.
"Shortly after the holidays I will resign from Congress," Hunter, R-Calif., in a statement. "It has been an honor to serve the people of California's 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years."
A collision between a Coast Guard boat and a Navy vessel near Kodiak Island, Alaska on Wednesday landed six coasties and three sailors to the hospital, officials said.
The Navy has identified the two Defense Department civilians who were killed in a shooting Wednesday at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii.
A shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida has left four people dead, including the gunman, law enforcement officials said at a Friday news conference.
The shooter and two victims were killed at the base and another victim died after being taken to the hospital, said Chip Simmons, deputy chief of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
Another seven people remain hospitalized, including two sheriff's deputies who engaged the gunman, Simmons said at Friday's news conference. One was hit in the arm and the other was shot in the knee. Both are expected to recover.
Widespread sexism and gender bias in the Marine Corps hasn't stopped hundreds of female Marines from striving for the branch's most dangerous, respected and selective jobs.
Six years after the Pentagon officially opened combat roles to women in 2013, 613 female Marines and sailors now serve in them, according to new data released by the Marine Corps.
"Females are now represented in every previously-restricted occupational field," reads a powerpoint released this month on the Marine Corps Integration Implementation Plan (MCIIP), which notes that 60% of those female Marines and sailors now serving in previously-restricted units joined those units in the past year.