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Massachusetts gov signs bill making changes to marijuana law

Massachusetts gov signs bill making changes to marijuana law

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday he remained wary of the impact legalized recreational marijuana might have on the state, yet hopeful that revisions made in the voter-approved law would ease some of his biggest concerns. The Republican spoke after signing a compromise bill approved by lawmakers last week that raises taxes on retail pot, establishes stringent requirements for the packaging and labeling of marijuana products, and spells out procedures cities and towns must follow if they wish to ban or restrict pot shops from opening in their communities. Baker also indicated a willingness to provide more funding to marijuana regulators, if they need it, a key concern of the group that sponsored the November ballot question. “I worry terribly about what the consequences over time will be and having spent a lot of time talking to folks in Colorado and in Washington … there are a lot of pitfalls we have to avoid,” said Baker, referring to two of the first U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana. “But, look, the people voted this and I think it’s important that we put the program in place and deliver a workable, safe, productive recreational marijuana market for them in Massachusetts, the governor added. The revised law sets a maximum 20 percent combined state and local tax rate on recreational pot, up from the maximum 12 percent combined rate in the ballot question. Medical marijuana, which was approved by voters in 2012, would remain untaxed. Under rules for packaging and labeling, all marijuana products, including edibles, would have to be sold in child-resistant packages with the concentration of THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana — listed on the package. “We want it to be a responsible industry that sells safe products to consenting adults and doesn’t market products to children and teenagers,” said Democratic Sen. Jason Lewis, who led a delegation of legislators on a fact-finding trip to Colorado last year and later opposed the ballot question. The revamped law would allow local elected officials in municipalities where a majority of voters rejected the ballot question to ban or limit marijuana establishments. But in communities where a majority of voters supported legalization restrictions on pot shops would require a referendum. Some legal experts have suggested the compromise language on local control could leave the law open to a constitutional challenge under the principle of equal protection. The state budget for the fiscal year that started July 1 includes only $2 million for the Cannabis Control Commission, a five-member board that must be formed by Sept. 1 to oversee both recreational and medical marijuana. State treasurer Deb Goldberg, responsible for naming the board’s chairman, has said the commission would need up to $10 million in the first year. Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the ballot question group, found the governor’s pledge reassuring. “Right now a $2 million appropriation doesn’t even cover the software that’s necessary to get this system up and running,” he said.
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FBI, tech company help cops hack iPhone in Miami reality TV star’s “sextortion case”

On Uncle Sam’s dime, an outside tech company helped state investigators finally hack into the iPhone of a Miami reality TV star accused of extorting a Miami socialite over stolen sex videos. Text messages on the phone of Hencha Voigt appear to undermine her defense. They seem to show Voigt and her then-boyfriend actively plotting to get $18,000 from a social-media celebrity known as YesJulz, in exchanging for not releasing the video clips to the Internet. “We on some Bonnie Clyde sh*t I cou…
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More than 1300 Cuban migrants are being held in detention centers across the US

They are teachers, engineers or farmers, all seeking freedom in the United States. But after an unexpected policy change and an end to special treatment that allowed the majority of Cuban migrants to remain legally in the country, more than 1,300 are now being held at detention centers across the country waiting for their fate to be decided by immigration judges. “What I heard were stories of people who felt that they literally could not live in Cuba anymore,” said Wendi Adelson, executive …
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British baby Charlie Gard dies, was center of legal battle

Charlie Gard, the terminally ill British baby at the center of a legal and ethical battle that attracted the attention of Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, died Friday. He was one week shy of his first birthday. Charlie’s parents fought for the right to take him to the United States for an experimental medical treatment for his rare genetic disease, mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which left him brain damaged and unable to breathe unaided. His case ended up in the courts when doct…
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Regional rights body tells Argentina to free jailed activist

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said Friday that Argentina’s government should release jailed social activist Milagro Sala. The commission said in a statement that there are many risk factors surrounding her detention, including alleged harassment, aggressions and a death threat. It granted a precautionary measure in favor of Sala stating that Argentina is obligated to fulfill a U.N. panel’s resolution last year saying she was arbitrarily detained and asked the government for her …
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