April 12, 2013

New England Dispatches

(Continued from page 1)

Spaulding says the general fund shortage could be made up with a strong April, but it’s unlikely the state will be able to make up the shortfalls in the transportation fund.

CONCORD, N.H.

Medical marijuana backers propose clinical study

Sensing greater support from lawmakers to legalize marijuana for people with serious illnesses or chronic pain, medical marijuana opponents are suggesting allowing it in the context of a clinical study.

Dr. Seddon Savage of the New Hampshire Medical Society said at a Senate hearing Thursday that collecting patient data could improve the treatment. The state could potentially get approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration for such a study, removing the any conflict with the federal prohibition on marijuana.

Her proposal was met with skepticism by medical marijuana proponents, including Republican Sen. John Reagan, who said he believes the study is being offered as a way to delay the law’s implementation should it be passed. It would add significant costs and others said it could violate patient privacy.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.

Quonset Air Show, Navy Week closed due to cuts

The Quonset Air Show and the Navy Week festivities planned to coincide with it have both been canceled because of federal budget cuts.

The Rhode Island National Guard said Thursday the air show and open house scheduled for June 29 and June 30 at Quonset Air National Guard Base will not be held because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

National Guard officials said they regretted that the show will not go on. Maj. Gen. Kevin McBride, the state’s adjutant general, says the Guard plans to prepare for a show in 2014.

The Navy said earlier Thursday it had canceled Navy Week in all 18 locations, including Rhode Island. The Navy Blue Angels earlier this week canceled their air show appearances nationwide, including at the Quonset Air Show.

BOSTON

Bulger lawyers get second chance for immunity claim

Lawyers for reputed gangster James “Whitey” Bulger will get a second chance to persuade a judge to allow Bulger to use his claim of immunity as a defense at his trial.

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper, who was assigned to the case last month, has scheduled a hearing for April 19 on Bulger’s request to reconsider another judge’s ruling barring him from using the immunity claim.

Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, is awaiting trial in June, charged with participating in 19 murders.

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper was assigned to the trial last month after an appeals court granted Bulger’s request to remove Judge Richard Stearns for a potential conflict of interest.

Bulger claims federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan gave him immunity for his crimes in the 1980s.

Stearns ruled that Bulger could not present evidence to a jury about his claim that the immunity deal applied to crimes committed in the future. He found that an immunity agreement “cannot as a matter of public policy license future criminal conduct.” Stearns did not rule on Bulger’s claim that he received immunity for past crimes.

– From news service reports

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