The recent $1.1-trillion federal spending passed by the Senate includes an amendment blocking the Department of Justice from spending money to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries or patients that abide by state laws.
Top of the Alty World
“The Federal War on Medical Marijuana is Over”—Mother Jones
magazine's recent interview with a high school student who made $72 million in investments turned out to be a hoax.—Observer
Doctors can now successfully 3-D print a knee joint.—Tech Crunch
Despite warnings about abuse, Medicare covered more prescriptions for potent controlled substances in 2012 than it did in 2011, potentially meaning more scrutiny for prolific prescribers.—ProPublica
Top of Alty Utah
A poll finds only far-right Utahns oppose the Count My Vote movement and the compromise bill SB 54.—Utah Policy
Governor Gary Herbert's budget anticipates a tax hike.—Utah Politico Hub
The Utah Pride Center's executive director Steven Ha has resigned due to health concerns.—Q Salt Lake
Former lawmaker Jackie Biskupski is likely to run for mayor of Salt Lake City, with an official announcement to come in January 2015.—Utah Policy
Holly Richardson looks at the issue of women in Utah politics:
There is no question that Utah is at a low-point for female representation on Utah’s Capitol Hill. In January 2014, we ranked 49 out of 50 and after November’s election, we lost even more women. In fact, we’re at the lowest point in decades. Dr Susan Madsen from Utah Valley University has written and lectured about the status of women in Utah politics. Women who are politically active in Utah consistently speak to the need for more women to be involved. I agree! We are missing important contributions when we don’t have women at the table.
Some assert that it’s because women are not running that they are not winning and there is truth in that. We need more women to run. But it’s more than that. Women are running in Utah – but they are not winning
.—Utah Politico Hub
The Long View
While the Legislature debates reinvesting in criminal justice reform, mentally-ill inmates struggle in Utah's prisons, where the Utah Department of Corrections has 16 percent of its inmate population classified as severely mentally ill, such as Ryan Allison who recently took his own life from behind bars:
By the time Ryan Allison was 21, he had a few goals for his life. He wanted to be a chef, get married and have children. But he also faced some challenges.
"I've never lived on my own," he told a parole-hearing officer at the Utah State Prison. "I've never had a job in my life, I don't know how to read directions."
That's because for the previous 10 1/2 years of his life, Allison had spent only eight months outside of locked-down institutions.And 18 months after sharing his modest ambitions, Allison was dead.
After at least 10 attempts to kill himself while serving five years in Draper prison for threatening a judge, the 22-year-old Allison took his own life by diving head-first from a sink or toilet fixture in a suicide-watch cell in the prison's mental-health unit.
Allison's life and death, says Disability Law Center legal director Aaron Kinikini, "is pretty typical of what happens when all the moving parts of the criminal justice system do what they do when somebody with mental illness is thrown into it; it's a complete cluster from start to finish."
—Salt Lake City Weekly