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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: MMA opposes medical marijuana bill

ST. PAUL  --  The Minnesota Medical Association's Board of Trustees has voted *not* to support the medical marijuana legislation working its way through the state House and Senate. 

MMA spokesman Dan Hauser says the group is calling for more studies focusing on the use of marijuana in medicine.  He says they cannot support at this point because they really want to see more research done on the drug and to see how the pros outweigh the cons.  The MMA board also wants to see the drug's status as a Schedule I controlled substance reviewed, with the goal of conducting research and developing marijuana-based medicines and alternate delivery methods to smoking.

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DFL members of the Minnesota House have introduced legislation to build on economic momentum in Greater Minnesota.  State Representative Jeanne Poppe of Austin says one bill in the package would spend $1.5 million to distribute surplus agriculture crops to food shelves across the state. She calls it a win-win-win for farmers, the food shelves and families who receive Minnesota-grown fruits and vegetables.  And Representative Erik Simonson of Duluth says another would help Minnesota communities gain or expand access to broadband - by leveraging as many additional private and public dollars as possible. The package also includes $40 million in property tax relief and $10 million in funding to promote rural job growth.

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QUITPLAN Services of Minnesota is hosting five "National Kick Butts Day" events today at community colleges across the state.  Spokesman Mike Sheldon says it's a day set aside to encourage young people to speak out against big tobacco and also a nice opportunity to think about the options they have to help them quit if they want to do that.  Sheldon says while tobacco use has been on the decline over the past decade, young adults 18-to-24 continue to have the highest smoking rate at nearly 22 percent.  Kick Butts events are being held at community colleges in Rochester, St. Cloud, Coon Rapids, Minneapolis and Inver Grove Heights.

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The College of St. Benedict has named their new president.  Mary Hinton has been announced as the 15th president in the school's 101-year history.  Forty-three-year-old Hinton is the first African American to hold this position at the school.  Hinton is currently the vice president for academic affairs at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York.  Hinton, her husband, and their three children will move to Minnesota in June, she will take office on June 15th.  Current President MaryAnn Baenninger announced in October that she would step down in June after 10 years in the position.

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 A Cloquet woman has pleaded to criminal vehicular homicide in an October 2012 crash that killed two Carlton County highway workers.  The criminal complaint says 28-year-old Vanessa Brigan was under the influence of methadone when she caused the three-vehicle collision on Highway 210.  Twenty-five-year-old Zachary Gamache of Esko and 29-year-old Mitchell Lingren of Duluth died after Brigan's car ran into their truck.  Brigan had methadone in her system and a needle and syringe were found in her vehicle.  She's expected to receive a six-year prison sentence on April 14th.  

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A Red Lake man is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty by a federal jury of assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  Forty-year-old James White Jr was indicted for the August 2013 assault of an infant on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.  White faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison.  His sentence hearing has not yet been scheduled. 

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One person is dead after crash on an icy road in Carver County last (TUE) night.  The State Patrol says a car heading south on County Road 11 went out of control and slid sideways into the northbound lane where it was struck by a pickup.  Both drivers were taken to the hospital.  The driver of the car was declared dead.  The pickup driver sustained non-life-threatening injuries.  The identities of the drivers have not been released.    

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