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Briefs (right)

Highway Patrol Backs Off
On Medical Marijuana

By Dean E. Murphy

In a turnaround, the California Highway Patrol says it is taking a hands-off approach to the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The new policy, issued last week, states that an “individual is to be released and the marijuana is not to be seized” if the person qualifies under state law to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes. It also says that officers “shall not conduct traffic enforcement stops for the primary purpose of drug interdiction” involving the authorized use of medical marijuana.

Though data on arrests are incomplete, medical marijuana advocates say the highway patrol, one of the state’s biggest law enforcement agencies, had been responsible for more arrests of patients and people providing their care than any other agency in the state.

A spokesman for the agency said Monday that the new rules were drafted in response to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June and legal action by Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group based here that sought a court order against the highway patrol’s previous policy of arresting patients and confiscating their marijuana.

Air Force Clamps Down
On Religious Expression

By Laurie Goodstein

The Air Force issued new religion guidelines to its commanders on Monday that caution against promoting any particular faith or even “the idea of religion over nonreligion” — in official communications or functions like meetings, sports events or ceremonies.

The guidelines discourage public prayers at official Air Force events or meetings other than worship services — one of the most contentious issues for many commanders.

But the guidelines allow for “a brief nonsectarian prayer” at special ceremonies like those honoring promotions, or in “extraordinary circumstances” that include “mass casualties, preparation for imminent combat and natural disasters.”

The Air Force developed the guidelines after complaints from cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that evangelical Christian leaders were using their positions to promote their faith.

The new guidelines apply not just to the Academy, but to the entire Air Force. They will be made final this year when Air Force generals meet and consider any recommendations they hear from their commanders.

“We support free exercise of religion, but we do not push religion,” said Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff, a Navy veteran who was hired this year as a special assistant to the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force, and who helped write the guidelines.