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Some Oregon cities say no to pot dispensaries for now

By Shelby Sebens PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - Over 20 Oregon cities and counties are moving to temporarily ban medical marijuana dispensaries ahead of a May deadline, reflecting a divide between liberal Portland and more conservative rural areas wary about allowing medical weed. The local moves to opt out of allowing sales of the drug as medicine come even as activists collect signatures to get a measure on the November ballot that, if approved, would allow recreational use of the drug.

Maryland legislature approves bill easing marijuana penalties

(Reuters) - The Democratic-controlled Maryland legislature on Monday approved a measure to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, joining a nationwide trend to ease penalties for pot. The state Senate approved the measure making possession of up to 10 grams, or about a third of an ounce, of marijuana a civil offense. Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley said he would sign it.

Maryland House panel rejects bill easing marijuana penalties

(Reuters) - A bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in Maryland was effectively struck down by a committee in the state House of Delegates, a staff member said on Thursday. The House Judiciary Committee voted instead on Wednesday to form a task force to investigate decriminalization over the next two years, said Ryan Lhotsky, the chief of staff for state Senator Bobby Zirkin, who sponsored the bill.

Washington mayor signs marijuana decriminalization bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray on Monday signed a bill that decriminalizes possession of up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana in the U.S. capital. The law makes possession a civil violation with a penalty of $25, lower than most city parking tickets. Possession had been a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Feds appeal ruling that gives medical marijuana growers a temporary reprieve

OTTAWA - The federal government will contest an injunction that allows people to continue to grow medical marijuana while a full legal challenge plays out in the courts. It is the latest salvo in a series of legal actions over how the government administers its medical pot program. Earlier this month, Federal Court Judge Michael Manson ruled that patients currently licensed to grow their own marijuana would be permitted to produce the drug even after new regulations banning the practice take effect Tuesday.

New Jersey lawmaker plans to introduce bill to legalize marijuana

By Dave Warner (Reuters) - A top New Jersey legislator on Monday said he planned to introduce a bill to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state, setting the stage for conflict with Governor Chris Christie, who is a staunch opponent. State Senator Nicholas Scutari said he plans to introduce a bill to legalize the sale of pot to adults over 21, following the lead of Washington state and Colorado, which last year legalized marijuana use by adults.

Georgia lawmakers expand gun rights as medical marijuana bill dies

By Steve Norder ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia lawmakers approved a watered-down expansion of gun carry rights, but an effort aimed at legalizing medical marijuana for children with severe seizure disorders failed on Thursday, the final day of the state's legislative session. "We did nothing for kids, but we passed a gun bill," said Republican state Senator Fran Millar.

FBI won't run checks on Washington state pot business hopefuls

By Jonathan Kaminsky OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - The FBI is refusing to run background checks on people who want to get into the marijuana business in Washington state, regulators said on Friday, in a move that could complicate efforts to keep hardened criminals out of the nascent industry. Washington state and Colorado in 2012 became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, though it remains illegal under federal law. They are among 20 states and the District of Columbia that allow medical marijuana.

Maryland Senate votes to ease marijuana penalties

By Alice Popovici ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (Reuters) - The Maryland state Senate voted overwhelmingly on Friday to decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana, part of a trend across the United States to ease penalties for pot. The Democrat-controlled Senate voted 36-8 to make possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil and not criminal offense. It would reduce the penalty to a $100 civil fine instead of a 90-day jail sentence and $500 fine.

California third-graders caught smoking pot in school bathroom

By Steve Gorman (Reuters) - Three third-graders were caught smoking marijuana in the boys' bathroom of their northern California elementary school last week in what the local police chief says marked the youngest pot bust he has ever encountered. The three boys - two 8-year-olds and one 9-year-old - were caught last Thursday by another student, who informed school administrators, who in turn alerted local law enforcement, said Sonora Police Chief Mark Stinson.
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