Medical marijuana bill advances in Md.
A measure to put Maryland on the path to developing a medical marijuana program in the next few years has advanced in the state Senate.
The Senate gave the measure preliminary approval Friday. That puts the Senate on track to vote on the bill Monday, the last day of the legislative session.
The bill would create a state commission to oversee medical marijuana programs at academic medical research centers that decide to participate.
The House of Delegates already has approved the bill.
Maryland’s health secretary has expressed support for the measure. Last year, Secretary Joshua Sharfstein opposed it due to concerns the federal government could prosecute state employees. This year, the bill was changed to enable the governor to suspend the program if it is determined employees could be prosecuted for participating.
Mom of frozen baby given 50 years
A northern Illinois woman who admitted leaving a newborn daughter to freeze to death along a rural roadway in 2004 was sentenced Friday to 50 years in prison.
Katie Stockton, 32, faced up to 60 years in prison for the death of the infant, who became known as Baby Crystal around the Rock River Valley after her frozen remains were found. Winnebago County prosecutors dropped 11 remaining murder charges in exchange for her guilty plea in February to a single count of first-degree murder.
Before handing down the sentence, Winnebago County Judge John Truitt allowed testimony about skeletal remains of two other infants found years later in the trunk of Stockton’s car, the Rockford Register Star reported.
Obama’s budget proposes cuts
Seeking an elusive middle ground, President Barack Obama is proposing a 2014 budget that embraces tax increases abhorred by Republicans as well as reductions, loathed by liberals, in the growth of Social Security and other benefit programs.
The plan, if ever enacted, could touch almost all Americans. The rich would see tax increases, the poor and the elderly would get smaller annual increases in their benefits, and middle-income taxpayers would slip into higher tax brackets despite Obama’s repeated vows not to add to the tax burden of the middle class.
Pope says he will act on sex cases
Pope Francis directed the Vatican on Friday to act decisively on clergy sex-abuse cases and punish pedophile priests, saying the Catholic Church’s “credibility” was on the line. The announcement was quickly dismissed by some victims’ advocates as just more talk, while others lobbying for reform in the church held out hope the new pontiff might challenge the Vatican’s bureaucratic culture seen as fostering a cover-up mentality.
Clergy-abuse victims called for swift and bold action from Francis as soon as he was elected pope last month. Yet in his homeland, Roman Catholic activists had characterized him as being slow to act against such abuse in his years heading the Argentine church.
The Vatican’s brief announcement about Francis’ meeting Friday with the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the office that shapes and enforces policy on what to do about any abuse allegations and what happens to the abusers — depicted Francis as urging assertive action to protect minors.