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NH House Passes MedMJ Expansion Bills, Honduras Ex-President Guilty of Cocaine Trafficking, More... (3/11/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
Consequences of Prohibition

South Dakota's GOP governor signs a bill requiring that primary caregivers be informed of patients' medical marijuana certifications, Virginia's GOP governor vetoes a bill to protect marijuana-using parents, and more. 

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez being extradited to face charges in the US. (Policia Honduras)
Marijuana Policy

Virginia Governor Vetoes Marijuana Child Abuse Bill. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has vetoed a measure, House Bill 833, that would have protected marijuana consumers by mandating that children cannot be considered abused and taken from the custody of a parent or guardian solely based on the parent's marijuana use or possession. The use and possession of marijuana is legal under state law. 

In his veto message, Youngkin said it addresses "a non-existent problem," adding that "Child protective service (CPS) referrals rarely, if ever, involve screening solely based on parents' legal use of controlled substances or marijuana. Instead, cases typically encompass additional risk factors like impaired supervision, access to drugs or drug paraphernalia, or a parent's inability to meet the child's basic needs. The inherent risk of unintended consequences, potentially endangering child safety by dissuading local departments of social services from implementing necessary protective measures, disrupts the balanced approach of current CPS policies, thus jeopardizing the well-being of vulnerable children.

"The proposal undermines the tangible link between substance use and harm to children, evident in the increased calls to poison control and emergency room visits for children consuming cannabis-infused substances following the authorization of personal marijuana possession. The blanket exemption further places children at risk by potentially endangering their welfare," Youngkin added. 

Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire House Approves Medical Marijuana Expansion. The House last Thursday approved a series of bills that expand the state's medical marijuana program—even as lawmakers grapple with broader marijuana legalization. 

House Bill 1278 adds debilitating or terminal conditions to the list of qualifying conditions,  House Bill 1349 adds generalized anxiety disorder to the list of qualifying conditions, House Bill 1350 raises the possession limit for patients from two ounces to four, and House Bill 1581 allows the state's medical marijuana growers to use greenhouses. 

The House has already passed a marijuana legalization bill, as it has done in years past only to see them die in the Senate. That bill has now gone back to the House Finance Committee for tinkering and must pass another House vote before April 11 to be considered in the Senate. 

South Dakota Governor Signs Bill Requiring Medical Practitioners to Inform Primary Caregiver of Patient's Enrollment in Medical Marijuana Program. Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has signed into law Senate Bill 10, which specifies that if a patient receives a medical marijuana recommendation from a medical practitioner who is not that patient's primary caregiver, that practitioner must notify the patient's primary caregiver. 

The bill requires that the practitioner send an electronic communication of the patient's certification to the primary caregiver 

The measure passed both the House and the Senate with overwhelming support. It takes effect July 1. 

Criminal Justice

Honduran Ex-President Convicted in US Drug Trafficking Case. Former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez, a former avowed ally in the US war on drugs, was convicted last Friday of cocaine trafficking, making him the first former head of state to be convicted of drug trafficking in the US since Panamanian Gen. Manuel Noriega more than 30 years ago. 

A New York city jury found Hernandez guilty on three counts of drug trafficking and weapons conspiracy. He is looking at a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years in federal prison. 

The conviction came after witnesses at the trial described Hernandez taking bribes from drug traffickers, including a $1 million bribe from Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the erstwhile head of the Sinaloa Cartel who is now imprisoned in the maximum security federal prison at Florence, Colorado. 

In closing arguments, prosecutors charged that Hernandez "paved a cocaine superhighway to the United States."

Hernandez claimed he went after drug traffickers, but prosecutors convinced the jury that while he prosecuted some traffickers, he protected others, including his brother, former lawmaker Antonio "Tony" Hernandez, who was convicted of drug trafficking in New York in 2019. 

Hernandez, a conservative, was considered a top US ally in Central America, particularly by the Trump administration, which looked the other way while on the corruption allegations as he supported the administration on migration issues. 

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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