- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015
DNR, Zoo release rare bison herd into state park

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - Eleven genetically rare bison have been released into a state park near Mankato as part of an effort to expand the bison herd in Minnesota.

The Department of Natural Resources says there were once an estimated 30 million to 60 million bison in North America. During the 19th century, bison were hunted to near extinction and less than 1,000 remained in the U.S.

The last wild bison in Minnesota was seen in Norman County in 1880.

Bison were reintroduced to the state in 1961.

In 2012, the Minnesota Zoo and DNR agreed to work together to preserve the American bison and grow the herd to 500 animals in several locations. The new bison were released Friday into Minneopa State Park near Mankato.


Patients discuss first months of medical marijuana

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Lawmakers, medical experts and law enforcement officials tracking the launch of Minnesota’s medical marijuana law got an earful Friday of the good and bad stories of the state’s new program.

Nearly three months in since medical cannabis went on sale in July, it’s a mixed bag: several parents who report their children’s lives have turned around due to the medicine after years of debilitating seizures, patients who have returned to the black market because the prices are too high and people who still can’t register due to the narrow list of qualifying conditions.

The task force overseeing the program met Friday for the first time since it launched this summer, with a sharp focus on the growing pains of Minnesota’s new medical marijuana economy - from patient’s struggles to afford the medication to the logistical hurdles that come with selling a drug that the federal government still bans.

Manny Munson-Regala, chief executive at the manufacturing company LeafLine Labs, said the federal government’s stance on marijuana - it’s classified as a Schedule I drug - has exacerbated production costs. Neither LeafLine nor Minnesota Medical Solutions can write off business expenses for tax purposes. Munson-Regala said his company pays about a 50 percent tax rate.

Those high prices have prompted Jennessa Lea to return to buying marijuana on the street to treat a painful condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. She’s one of several patients who have told The Associated Press they’ve reverted to the black market due to state-approved medications’ high costs, which can quickly rack up into hundreds or thousands of dollars for a month’s supply.


Advised to rest, Dalai Lama cancels October US visit

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Dalai Lama canceled his U.S. appearances for the month of October after doctors at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic advised him to rest, his office said Friday.

The 80-year-old Tibetan Buddhist leader was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester this week for what was described as a routine check-up.

“The doctors have advised His Holiness to rest for the next several weeks,” his office said in a statement on its website Friday. “We deeply regret the inconvenience caused by this decision and apologize to all the people who have worked so hard in organizing the visit as well as to the public.”

The statement gave no more details about the Dalai Lama’s condition and representatives did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.

The University of Colorado and the Tibetan Association of Colorado had announced earlier Friday that the Office of Tibet in Washington, D.C., informed them a planned visit would be canceled. The Dalai Lama had been scheduled to appear at the university Oct. 20-21.


US Steel to idle Keetac taconite plant, layoffs possible

KEEWATIN, Minn. (AP) - Another 210 workers at the Keetac taconite plant could face layoffs as U.S. Steel plans another full idling of the facility.

The company has issued Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notices about the idling and advised that layoffs could begin on or after Oct. 11.

U.S. Steel cited market conditions as one reason for the idling.

The Star Tribune reports the potential layoffs could last up to six months, adding to the 412 workers laid off when the plant was idled this summer.

The news comes as the United Steelworkers union and U.S. Steel are negotiating a new labor contract. The current contract expired Sept. 1, but employees are working under the old contract while bargaining continues.

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