- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2012

D.C.’s medical marijuana program is still months away from sprouting, but some advocates already worry that there won’t be enough cannabis to go around. Concerns about supply of the drug mounted after a Jan. 17 vote by the D.C. Council that capped the number of cultivation centers that will be licensed to grow marijuana at six per ward — an effort to assuage fears that Ward 5 in Northeast was becoming a dumping ground for unwanted industries, reports Tom Howell Jr. of The Washington Times.

Billions of dollars in Virginia tax credits, incentives and exemptions that in many cases were poorly targeted or ineffective have prompted a bipartisan push in the state General Assembly for greater disclosure and better accountability in the state tax code, reports David Sherfinski of The Times.

Maryland Freshmen House Republicans on Wednesday blasted a proposal by Gov. Martin O'Malley to increase several taxes during this year’s General Assembly session. The 15 first-term delegates criticized the governor and other Democrats for considering tax hikes on gas, cigars, income and other items, arguing they will overburden residents already struggling to make ends meet in tough economic times. They also released a survey showing that 96 percent of recently polled Marylanders think they are taxed too much or just enough, which the GOP delegates said proves bipartisan voter opposition to any tax increases this session, reports David Hill of The Times.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malleyis scheduled to meet with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss same-sex marriage and immigration issues. The meeting is scheduled as part of the governor’s trip to New York City Thursday for a Democratic Governors Association meeting. Mr. O’Malley, who chairs the DGA, is pushing to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland this legislative session after a measure stalled last year. The measure Mr. O'Malley is making a priority this session seeks to assure wavering lawmakers that religious freedom will be protected. New York approved same-sex marriage last year, after lawmakers fine-tuned the legislation to safeguard religious freedom, according to the Associated Press.

A key Virginia Senate committee on Wednesday voted to repeal a state law banning the purchase of more than one handgun a month, a longtime priority of gun-rights activists and a measure that now has the backing of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, The Times reports.

A Maryland lawmaker is proposing a constitutional amendment to close a loophole that allows elected officials convicted of felonies to remain in office until their sentencing. Delegate Jolene Ivey, Prince George’s Democrat, formally introduced a bill Wednesday that, if passed by the General Assembly and approved by referendum, would immediately remove officials after they are convicted of felony charges or certain misdemeanors. Mrs. Ivey said the bill was inspired in part by the situation last year involving former Prince George’s Council member Leslie Johnson, who pleaded guilty in June to federal conspiracy charges but refused to resign until sentenced, according to The Times.

In 20 pages of impassioned pleas, family members of Brittany Norwood urged a judge to give her a chance of one day being free — the family’s first sustained public comments since the 29-year-old was convicted of murdering a co-worker in November. They do not claim to understand what triggered the violent attack at the Bethesda Lululemon Athletica store, nor Norwood’s extensive lies as she spun a tale of masked attackers and rape. Norwood is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday in Montgomery County, according to the Washington Post.

The 24-year-old former Marine Corps Reservist who allegedly fired shots at the Pentagon, the Marine Corps History Museum and other military targets in Northern Virginia is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday to enter into a plea agreement, according to court records. Yonathan Melaku, 24, of Fairfax County, was charged with destruction of property and firearm offenses in connection with a series of five attacks during October and November 2010. Prosecutors have alleged the shooting were part of Mr. Melaku’s plan to “engage in violent activity against those in the military,” according to The Post.