This act amends Tennessee’s fetal homicide law to allow the prosecution of a pregnant woman for the illegal use of a narcotic drug, if her child is born addicted or harmed by the drugs she took during her pregnancy. The charge of assault is a misdemeanor offense, but if the child is harmed, aggravated assault, with a 15-year maximum prison term, could be charged. That a woman is enrolled in long term drug addiction treatment before the child is born, remains in the program after delivery and successfully completes the program is an affirmative defense under the law. The law is set to expire on July 1, 2016.

State and territorial attorneys general have made it a priority to combat the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and to protect military service members from predatory lenders. Their efforts include law enforcement operations, state drug monitoring programs and education campaigns. 

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A year after it joined the growing list of states that allow for the medical use of marijuana, Illinois has modified its law to provide relief for children who suffer from seizures. SB 2636 will take effect at the start of next year. It permits children under 18, with a parent’s consent, to be treated with non-smokable forms of medical marijuana. The state’s original law did not include seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, among the list of debilitating medical conditions that could legally be treated with medical marijuana.

Recent voter initiatives in Colorado and Washington legalizing the use of recreational marijuana have amplified the debate and the uncertain social and legal ramifications. The Future of Western Legislatures Forum featured industry perspectives and insights from officials about how their states are implementing these initiatives. The session also focused on state medical marijuana laws, including state program comparisons and challenges.

After Colorado and Washington voters approved constitutional amendments in 2013 to allow for recreational use of marijuana, many believe the movement to decriminalize the drug is making headway. But medical marijuana has been around for years. Support is growing in states that don’t allow use of the drug for medical purposes and the number of states that do allow medical marijuana is growing.

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The start of the new year marked the beginning of a four-year pilot project in Illinois that permits the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Illinois is the second state in the Midwest with such a law and the first in the region where it was initiated by the legislature. Medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan six years ago via a ballot proposal.

The Senate Judiciary Committee in September considered state initiatives to legalize marijuana within their borders for the first time.

Stateline Midwest ~ July/August 2013

At a recent Minnesota House hearing on the proliferation of synthetic drugs, the head of the state’s Pharmacy Board called it a “Whack-A-Mole problem.” “Every time you stomp something down,” Cody Wiberg said, “something else pops up.”

Yesterday, Colorado and Washington made history, becoming the first states to legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.  The measures also call for the establishment of a state regulatory and taxation framework similar to those used for tobacco and alcohol.  Passage of the measures set up a potential showdown with the federal government, which still categorizes marijuana as a controlled substance.  

Colorado voters approved ...

Telling numbers illustrate the need for action with regard to prescription drug abuse.

  • The rate of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky has doubled among men and tripled among women in the past 10 years. 
  • Florida estimates suggest as many as seven people overdose daily on prescription drugs.
  • Deaths from prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in 17 states.
  • Nearly one-third of all people age 12 and older who abuse drugs for the first time abuse prescription drugs.

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