- - Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Pot law might spark court action

SAN FRANCISCO | Federal officials haven’t ruled out taking legal action if California voters approve a ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana use in the state, President Obama’s drug czar said Wednesday.

In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske said Justice Department officials are “looking at all their options” for responding to the measure, which would conflict with federal laws classifying marijuana as an illegal drug.

Among them, he said, is following the recommendation nine of the nation’s former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs made last month in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.: having Mr. Obama sue to overturn Proposition 19 as an affront to federal authority.

Mr. Holder told the former DEA heads last week that the U.S. government plans to “vigorously enforce” federal laws outlawing marijuana possession and distribution, even if the activities are allowed under state law. But the attorney general did not respond directly to their suggestion that the administration should go to court if California passes the first-of-its-kind measure aimed at treating marijuana the same as alcohol.

Proposition 19, a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot, would allow adults at least 21 years old to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow 25-square-foot pot gardens for personal pleasure. It would also authorize county and city governments to regulate and tax commercial cultivation and sales.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

South has highest teen birthrates

Teen births are the highest in Southern states, the federal government said in a new report that offers state-by-state data.

In 2008, the national teen birthrate fell to 42 births per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19, the National Center for Health Statistics said Oct. 20.

The 10 highest teen birthrates, however, were in swath of states stretching from Kentucky to Nevada.

The highest rates — 62 births or higher per 1,000 teens — occurred in Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

NEW JERSEY

State to get large solar farm

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