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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.
The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.
In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.
PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.
With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.
Two immigrants, a pastor and an Army sergeant have been convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud as part of an illegal immigration scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
Rajesh Ramcharan, 45; Diann Ramcharan, 37; Sgt. Galima Murry, 31; and the Rev. Ken Harvell, 60, were found guilty Thursday after a nine-day jury trial, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado.
The conspiracy involved obtaining immigration benefits for Rajesh Ramcharan, Diann Ramcharan, and one of their minor children, the release said. A married couple in 2007 came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago on visitor visas. They overstayed the visas and settled in Colorado.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it was sending to Ukraine the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger plane that the Iranian military shot down this month, an accident that sparked unrest at home and added to pressure on Tehran from abroad.
Iran's Tasnim news agency also reported the authorities were prepared for experts from France, Canada and the United States to examine information from the data and voice recorders of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that came down on Jan. 8.
The plane disaster, in which all 176 aboard were killed, has added to international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long running row with the United States over its nuclear program that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.