National Roundup

Hawaii
Honolulu police stop requiring pot patients to give up guns

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu’s police chief ended a requirement that medical marijuana patients relinquish their guns.

Chief Susan Ballard said Wednesday medical marijuana patients can retain guns they already own, but they can’t buy additional guns once they become a patient, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

“Merely having a medical marijuana card doesn’t mean you’re using marijuana,” Ballard said. “We can’t prove you’re using marijuana. Our practice of having them turn in their firearms was incorrect.”

The department will return firearms to the two people who voluntarily relinquished them, Ballard said.

Retired state Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson, a member of the Honolulu Police Commission, questioned why the department was denying firearm permits for marijuana patients but not people using much stronger prescription drugs.

“I’m a little puzzled as to why the distinction between medical marijuana and medical opioids,” Levinson said.

While Carl Bergquist, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, said the police department should revisit the policy since medical cannabis is legal under state law.

“On behalf of physicians, nurses, caregivers and patients involved in the medical cannabis program, the assumption that they’re all impaired or a danger to society is a great insult,” Bergquist said. “A policy like this could push people out of the regulated system. We think these patients should not be stigmatized in this fashion.”

Pennsylvania
Taxi company ordered to pay after driver ejects gay couple

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia officials have ordered a taxi company to pay a former passenger who says he was kicked out of a cab after he kissed his male partner.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday the city Commission on Human Relations has ordered PHL Taxi to pay Mark Seaman $500. The ruling comes eight years after Seaman kissed his partner on the top of the head as they left
Philadelphia International Airport.

Seaman says their cab driver ordered them to get out after the kiss and left them at a nearby taxi stand. He filed a discrimination complaint shortly afterward.

In their ruling, the commission says taxi dispatch companies are responsible for educating their drivers on the city’s fair practices ordinance.

A phone call to PHL Taxi rang unanswered Friday morning.

North Carolina
Woman accused of hiding two infants’ remains pleads guilty

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina woman accused of hiding the remains of two infants under a house in 2016 has pleaded guilty to two counts of failure to report a death.

The News & Observer reports that 41-year-old Bridgette Morgan Smith was sentenced to between six to eight months for each count on Thursday and will receive credit for 164 days already served.

She was originally arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, in June, on two felony charges of concealing the death of a child 14 months after the remains were discovered in trash bags.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said DNA evidence showed that both infants were related to Smith and that Smith’s mother said they were her daughter’s children.

Smith had told investigators both children were stillborn.

New York
Judge accused of texting prosecutors advice in case

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) — A Long Island judge is accused of texting advice to prosecutors on how to try a case against a defendant facing a drug charge.

Newsday reports Suffolk County District Court Judge Janine Barbera-Dalli recused herself from the case Monday at the request of the defendant’s attorney, Legal Aid Society lawyer Juliann Ryan.

Ryan says prosecutors shared the texts with her before the trial started.

Ryan says Barbera-Dalli called her client a “trafficker” and suggested a legal strategy to remove Legal Aid from the case. Ryan says the texts showed “extreme bias” on Barbera-Dalli’s behalf.

The defendant is charged with heroin possession and loitering.

Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association President Christopher Brocato called Barbera-Dalli’s actions “outrageous” and questioned her impartiality.

Suffolk Administrative Judge C. Randall Hinrichs says he will look into the allegations.

Maine
Santa makes ‘naughty’ comment to female shopper

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — The police in Bangor, Maine, say they’ve gotten a complaint about a department store “bad Santa” who apparently wasn’t working there.

Police posted on Facebook on Thursday that a woman walking around the store with her daughter recently was approached by a man dressed as Santa, who handed out a candy cane.

A short time later, they ran into him again and he said, “Good girls get candy, naughty girls get jewelry.”

The woman complained to a store manager, but was told they didn’t have a Santa on the payroll or in the store. They looked around and couldn’t find him.

Police are advising him to do the right thing: “Put yourself on the naughty list and stop by to speak to us.”

Oregon
Man who entered party naked gets prison for 4 years

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man who showed up at a party naked and groped a woman has been sentenced to more than four years in prison.

Robert Roy Engelsman was sentenced Thursday in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that he told the judge he wasn’t acting normally the night of June 25 because he was drunk and had sniffed glue.

The 43-year-old man said he thought he heard his ex-girlfriend’s voice inside the house.

Authorities say Engelsman came into the house visibly aroused, lifted up a woman’s skirt and pressed himself against her.

He pleaded no contest to first-degree burglary and attempted first-degree sexual abuse.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Gregory Silver noted that Engelsman had a history of drug abuse and said he needs to make changes in his life.

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