Judge Rules in Favor of Atheist Group, Says Cross on Penn. County Seal Must Be Removed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Judge Rules in Favor of Atheist Group, Says Cross on Penn. County Seal Must Be Removed

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(PHOTO: FACEBOOK/COUNTY OF LEHIGH)The official seal of the County of Lehigh, Pennsylvania.

A federal judge has ruled that a Pennsylvania county seal is unconstitutional for including a cross, handing a legal victory to a Wisconsin-based atheist organization.

U.S. District Judge Edward Smith released a decision Thursday against Lehigh County’s seal, arguing that having a cross included in the emblem “fails the endorsement test.”

“In this case, neither the longevity of the Seal nor the secular symbols surrounding the cross detract from the religious message that a cross conveys to the reasonable observer,” wrote Judge Smith.

“While the court must defer to the government’s articulation of a secular purpose, the court cannot hold that the County’s articulated purpose is secular. Honoring the settlers by retaining a cross on the Seal is the equivalent of honoring the fact that the settlers were Christian.”

Smith noted that his decision was based on The Lemon Test, the legal precedent which allows for state-supported religious entities provided they fulfill a secular purpose.

Smith also expressed disagreement with the Lemon Test, calling Lehigh County’s seal a “passive symbol” which “does not violate the plain text of the Establishment Clause.”

“While the court does not believe the current state of the law applicable to this case comports with the text of the Establishment Clause, the court is not in a position to reject it,” continued Smith.

In August 2016, Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of multiple local residents against Lehigh County over its seal, which included a prominently displayed Latin cross.

“A prominent Latin cross is centrally displayed on Lehigh County’s seal and flag. The Plaintiffs — four local residents and a membership association of freethinkers … that works to promote the separation of state and church — object to the Latin cross representing the county government,” reads the suit’s introduction.

“Displaying the Latin cross on the county seal and county flag endorses Christianity, which violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Plaintiffs seek appropriate declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as nominal damages.”

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement released Thursday that she and her organization welcomed the district court’s ruling.

“This welcome ruling should settle the matter and get the seal redesigned to be inclusive, to ensure that it does not continue to send a message that only Christian citizens are represented or welcome,” stated Gaylor.

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Friends It Is Past Time To Change Our Nation Anthem To: America The Beautiful

 

Friends, I am just an old hillbilly white guy, I say this so that some do not think that I am a racist black person. Don’t get me wrong, every color of people on the planet have members that are racist to their core, white, black, brown, red, whatever. This issue today is about some of the black professional athletes who are protesting our current National Anthem the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ I understand why many years ago before any of us who are alive today decided that the Star Spangled Banner was a very good song to have as our National Anthem. The time frame was a lot closer to the beginning of our Nation and that the Founding Fathers, and Daughters had the Revolution more fresh in their hearts and minds. When our Constitution was drawn up it was drawn up by all white males who had the ‘Kingdoms’ of Europe as a base to their experiences. We folks today like to think that when the Constitution says that “all people are created equal” that the Founding Fathers were talking about us, all of us. The fact is, that is not true. Their meaning of “all people” simply meant “all white male land owners!” If this measuring stick were used today millions of people who are on the voting rolls would be wiped off of those rolls. Remember, up until the early 1900’s no one in the U.S. could vote, except for white males. Even white women were not allowed to vote, so, can a Country really have been the “home of the free” when the vast majority of the people could have no say so at all in what the government decided to do?

 

I remember back many years ago that the state of North Carolina’s vehicle license plates read “First in Freedom.” Even as a young kid I thought, how could they be allowed to say this being that North Carolina was a slave state. Just as in our Anthem when it says “home of the free”, it really wasn’t, not in terms that we would use today. So, can I see, do I understand, why some folks, whether they are professional athletes or not, tend to have an issue with this song being ‘our’ National Anthem, do you? One should probably also consider the fact that many of our Nations Founding Fathers, including Francis Scott Key who wrote the Anthem, were slave owners. Yes the Revolution did free the people, all of the people, even ‘colored’ folks from being under the yoke of England, but the Revolution did not make all people free as we today consider ‘free’ to be. So, in reality our Anthem is partly the truth, but definitely not the whole Truth.

 

It is my personal belief and it has been for quite a few years that the U.S. should change our official National Anthem to ‘America The Beautiful.’ The song is not in any way racist, it is not about war, and it is a beautiful and quite accurate song (just my opinion). This issue that we are seeing today being played out on our T.V. screens is not going to go away, it is only going to get worse. Also, our ‘Idiot In Chief’ is doing nothing but making everything worse every time he opens his pie hole or Tweets. I know that change is difficult but I do believe that it is time, right now, to change our National Anthem to America The Beautiful before the Idiot In Chief blows the top off of the kettle to where there is no going back.

Spain’s Constitutional Court Has Suspended Catalonia’s Independence Vote

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

Spain’s Constitutional Court Has Suspended Catalonia’s Independence Vote

Sep 07, 2017

(MADRID) — Spain’s constitutional court on Thursday suspended the call for a referendum on Catalonia’s independence after agreeing to review an appeal by central authorities in Madrid.

The move was widely expected after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that the government was challenging both a controversial law meant to legitimize the independence vote and a decree signed Wednesday by the regional Catalan government summoning voters for the Oct. 1 ballot.

The reaction to the court’s decision by leaders in Catalonia, a prosperous region in northeastern Spain, also didn’t come as a surprise. Carles Puigdemont, the regional president and one of the main promoters of the referendum, said that neither central Spanish authorities nor the courts could halt their plans.

“We will respond to the tsunami of lawsuits with a tsunami of democracy,” Puigdemont told local broadcaster 8TV. He also boasted that more than 16,000 people had already registered online as volunteers and that more than half of the mayors in Catalonia were supporting the vote.

Spain’s constitutional court has previously ruled that a referendum can only be called with the approval of the central authorities. But Puigdemont’s pro-independence coalition claims that the universal right to self-determination overrules Spain’s laws.

The Catalonia region, centered on Barcelona, generates a fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product and holds 7.5 million people. It self-governs in several important areas, such as police, health and education. But key areas such as taxes, foreign affairs and most infrastructures are in the hands of the Spanish government. Both Catalan and Spanish are spoken, and many Catalans feel strongly about their cultural heritage and traditions.

The central government called the move an attack against Spain’s and Catalonia’s institutional order.

“That’s something that the government and the courts can’t allow,” Rajoy said in a televised address Thursday following an urgent meeting of his cabinet. “There won’t be a self-determination referendum because that would be taking away from other Spaniards the right to decide their future.”

Rajoy is trying to strike a delicate balance between tamping down the secessionist defiance yet staying away from dramatic measures that would further inflame anti-Spanish sentiments, such as suspending Catalonia’s autonomous powers or declaring a state of emergency, which could bring the military to the mix.

His conservative government has not disclosed what other possible actions are in the pipeline, but it has vowed to trigger all measures in a “proportional” way and “with serenity.”

“The Constitution can be modified but through the rules and channels established, never through disobedience,” Rajoy said.

The state prosecutor, meanwhile, announced plans for lawsuits accusing Catalan officials involved in the possible referendum of disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement, among other charges.

One lawsuit seeks to punish members of the Catalan parliament who allowed the debate and the vote on the legal framework of the Oct. 1 referendum. A separate lawsuit was aimed at Puigdemont and the other members of his cabinet who signed the referendum decree.

Chief state prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza said prosecutors and police forces in Catalonia have been told to investigate and stop any actions taken to celebrate the referendum. Businesses who print tickets for the ballot, produce commercials to advertise it or provide ballot services to the Catalan government could also be legally liable.

He said the measures were aimed at “guaranteeing the constitutional coexistence framework” in Spain.

Although much of the blame for the institutional crisis has been put on the pro-independence bloc in the Catalan parliament, Rajoy’s conservative government is being targeted by other political parties for letting the situation get this far.

The pro-independence bloc has argued that full control would benefit Catalonia. The idea gained support amid the high unemployment and harsh austerity measures that came as a result of Spain’s 2008-2013 financial crisis.

A return to solid growth, however, has weakened public backing for independence.

Catalan leaders have pledged to proclaim a new republic within 48 hours if the “yes” side wins the referendum, regardless of turnout.

Federal Court Of Appeals Rules In Favor Of Pro-Life Advocate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Ninth Circuit Gives Dave Daleiden a Win in University of Washington Baby Body Parts Investigation

(PHOTO: REUTERS/LISA FERNANDEZ/FILE PHOTO)Anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, waits outside Superior Court in San Francisco, California, U.S., May 3, 2017.

A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel gave pro-life activist Dave Daleiden a victory Monday after he was barred by a lower court from releasing information about the University of Washington’s purchase of baby body parts for research.

Last November, a Seattle-based district court judge placed an injunction prohibiting Daleiden from releasing the names and job titles of university personnel involved in research using aborted babies’ body parts that were harvested by Planned Parenthood.

Regarding the Ninth Circuit panel’s decision on Monday, Thomas More Society’s Special Counsel Peter Breen said in a statement to Fox News earlier this week that the ruling “has prevented a serious threat to the public’s right to know how their tax dollars are being spent.”

The three-judge panel concluded that while they “agree with the district court that there may be a basis for redaction where disclosure would likely result in threats, harassment, and violence,” the district court failed to “address how the Doe Plaintiffs have made the necessary clear showing with specificity as to the different individuals or groups of individuals who could be identified in the public records.

(PHOTO: REUTERS/JONATHAN BACHMAN)A sign in support of Planned Parenthood is seen outside a town hall meeting for Republican U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy in Metairie, Louisiana, U.S. February 22, 2017.

“The district court also made no finding that specific individuals or groups of individuals were engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment and what that activity was,” read the decision.

“We remand for the district court to address how disclosure of specific information would violate the constitutional or statutory rights of particular individuals or groups of individuals.”

The panel did decided that the injunction of the lower court would remain in place for a period not to exceed 120 days so the district court can “enter the necessary findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting injunctive relief, consistent with this disposition.”

Daleiden garnered national headlines back in 2015 when he and his California-based pro-life group, the Center for Medical Progress, released a series of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood and others engaging in illegal activity, such as profiting from the sale of aborted baby body parts.

Since then, Daleiden has found himself dealing with multiple legal battles over his efforts, occasionally being charged and then cleared of various misdemeanor allegations.

As part of his efforts against Planned Parenthood, Daleiden and his peers attempted to release the information on employees at Planned Parenthood and the UW Birth Defect Research Laboratory.

Last November, U.S. District Judge James Robart issued an injunction blocking the release of that information, citing safety concerns for the aforementioned employees.

“Plaintiffs have submitted multiple declarations detailing past and present harassment due to Plaintiffs’ associational ties with the various organizations at issue, as well as threats and harassment directed against the organizations themselves,” concluded Robart.

“The court agrees that the public has an interest in understanding and obtaining information about the types of research and other work in which UW engages with public funds, but releasing Plaintiffs’ personally identifying information would do little, if anything, to advance that interest.”

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Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mississippi law that protects people who oppose gay marriage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mississippi law that protects people who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds from being sued.

(Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake)Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant arrives to attend B.B. King’s funeral in Indianola, Mississippi, May 30, 2015.

In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the panel concluded that the plaintiffs lacked the standing to sue the state over House Bill 1523, also called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, reversing a lower court’s decision.

“The governor of Mississippi and the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services appeal a preliminary injunction. Because the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal,” wrote Circuit Judge Jerry Smith on behalf of the panel.

In April 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, which prohibits the state from compelling businesses and individuals from supporting or servicing gay weddings.

(Photo: Reuters/David McNew)A same-sex wedding cake topper is seen outside the East Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office on Valentine’s Day during a news event for National Freedom to Marry Week in Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 14, 2012.

“The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that: (a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth,” reads HB 1523 in part.

LGBT groups and their allies denounced the legislation and sued to have it struck down. For his part, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last year banning non-essential state travel to Mississippi.

“[I]t is the policy of the state of New York to promote fairness, protect the welfare of the citizens of the state of New York, and combat discrimination,” read Cuomo’s 2016 order.

“All agencies, departments, boards, authorities and commissions [will] review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of Mississippi so long as there is law in effect there that permits and enshrines discrimination against LGBT citizens and unmarried individuals …” Cuomo’s order added.

Last summer, Judge Carlton W. Reeves blocked Mississippi’s law from taking effect, concluding that it was “a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement Thursday that he commended the panel’s ruling on the “commonsense law.”

“No person should be punished by the government with crippling fines or face disqualification for simply believing what President Obama believed until five years ago, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” said Perkins.

“Today’s ruling leaves us more confident that the courts will uphold the ability of elected officials to protect the freedom of their citizens to believe and live according to those beliefs”

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Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/faith-based-business-owners-wont-be-forced-serve-gay-weddings-mississippi-appeals-court-rules-189278/#D4ljHrmCXmHwz8dC.99

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/faith-based-business-owners-wont-be-forced-serve-gay-weddings-mississippi-appeals-court-rules-189278/#0jjFfAGKXVH9qOiS.99

14th Amendment To U.S. Constitution Passed This Day In 1866: Indians, Women, Kids, Not Citizens

(I GOT THIS ARTICLE FROM GOOGLE PLUS, JAMMISON HILL, HISTORY)

XIV Amendment passed by the U.S. House of Representatives today in 1866, ratified by states on July 9th. All persons born in U.S. are citizens, no state shall deny person life, liberty, or property without due process; representatives shall be apportioned among the states based on numbers of persons (defined as males over 21, excluding Indians not taxed) in each state.
Reconstruction Amendments to the U.S. Constitution
Reconstruction Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

Attorney General Orders Tougher Sentences, Rolling Back Obama Policy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Photo

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has in the past suggested that prosecuting drug crimes more vigorously will broadly reduce other crime. CreditJim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors late Thursday to pursue the toughest possible charges and sentences against crime suspects, reversing Obama administration efforts to ease penalties for some nonviolent drug violations.

The drastic shift in criminal justice policy, foreshadowed during recent weeks, is Mr. Sessions’s first major stamp on the Justice Department, and it highlights several of his top targets: drug dealing, gun crime and gang violence. The Justice Department released the new directives on Friday.

In an eight-paragraph memo to the nation’s prosecutors, Mr. Sessions returned to the guidance of President George W. Bush’s administration by calling for more uniform punishments — including mandatory minimum sentences — and directing prosecutors to pursue the strictest possible charges. Mr. Sessions’s policy, however, is broader than that of the Bush administration, and will be more reliant on the judgments of United States attorneys and assistant attorneys general.

The policy signaled a return to “enforcing the laws that Congress has passed,” Mr. Sessions said on Friday at the Justice Department, characterizing his memo as unique for the leeway it afforded federal prosecutors around the country.

Continue reading the main story

“They deserve to be un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington,” he said. “It means we are going to meet our responsibility to enforce the law with judgment and fairness. It’s simply the right and moral thing to do.”

The guidance allowed for limited exceptions. “There will be circumstances in which good judgment would lead a prosecutor to conclude that a strict application of the above charging policy is not warranted,” Mr. Sessions wrote.

His memo replaced the orders of former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who in 2013 encouraged prosecutors to consider the individual circumstances of a case and to exercise discretion in charging drug crimes. Mr. Holder directed prosecutors — when considering nonviolent defendants with insignificant criminal histories and no connections to drug trafficking or other criminal organizations — to omit details about drug quantities from charging documents so as not to lead to automatically harsh penalties.

Document: Memo by Sessions to U.S. Attorneys on Charges and Sentencing

Mr. Holder called the new policy “unwise and ill-informed,” saying it ignored consensus between Democrats and Republicans, and data demonstrating that prosecutions of high-level drug defendants had risen under his guidance.

“This absurd reversal is driven by voices who have not only been discredited but until now have been relegated to the fringes of this debate,” he said in a statement.

Supporters of Mr. Holder’s policy have argued that quantities of drugs are a weak indicator of how dangerous a person may be.

“Long sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses do not promote public safety, deterrence and rehabilitation,” Mr. Holder wrote in his 2013 memo, noting that in fact they exacerbate an expensive, overburdened prison system. The Obama administration, which led a bipartisan push for more lenient and flexible sentencing laws, presided over the first decline in the federal prison population in a generation.

Mr. Sessions’s memo explicitly mentioned Mr. Holder’s 2013 directive in a footnote and rescinded it effective immediately.

Mr. Sessions’s policy was most similar to one issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2003. Then, Mr. Ashcroft outlined six specific types of “limited exceptions” in his memo — which ran nearly four times the length of Mr. Sessions’s new guidance, and repeatedly referenced particular federal statutes. Mr. Sessions, by contrast, outlined no specific scenarios and provided little detail.

Instead, he simply directed prosecutors to “carefully consider whether an exception may be justified.” He said any exceptions to ease criminal penalties must be documented and approved by United States attorneys, assistant attorneys general or their designees.

“There’s a long history of these memos saying both that prosecutors should charge the most serious, readily provable offense, but also that prosecutors should exercise some discretion,” said David Alan Sklansky, a law professor at Stanford University who specializes in criminal justice. “There’s tension between those two things.”

Why Should The Employee (Congress/Senate/President) Get Better Insurance Policies Than Their Bosses, The People?

shared Teanderthal Party‘s photo.

16 hrs ·

 (I copy pasted this from a forward a friend posted on FB, I agree
 with this statement, do you?)

Texas Advocates Release TV Ad Featuring Active Duty Police Officer and Victim of Marijuana Prohibition

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP WEBSITE)

Texas Advocates Release TV Ad Featuring Active Duty Police Officer and Victim of Marijuana Prohibition

May 04, 2017 , , , , , ,, , , ,


A television ad in support of a bill to reduce marijuana penalties in Texas will begin airing Friday, just days before the state House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure. It can be viewed here.

The 30-second spot features Nick Novello, an active duty police officer and 23-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, and Heather Jackson of Houston, an ovarian cancer survivor who was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in El Paso in 2007.

“Arresting people for marijuana possession does not make our communities any safer,” Novello says in the ad. “It’s a terrible waste of police resources.”

Jackson notes that she was found with less than one gram of marijuana and spent a total of four days in jail. She was initially jailed for two days. She was forced to spend an additional two days in jail because she violated the terms of her probation by traveling from El Paso to Houston for treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“It has affected so many different things in my life,” Jackson says in the ad. She now has a criminal record that has prevented her from getting a teaching job.

The ad concludes by urging viewers to tell their legislators to support HB 81, a bipartisan bill that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. A fourth offense would result in a misdemeanor punishable by only a fine. The measure passed out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee last month and is expected to receive a full vote in the House next week.

The ad is scheduled to air through Monday in Austin and through the weekend in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC.

Colorado State Congress Votes To Allow Marijuana Use To Help People With PTSD

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DENVER GAZETTE)

As marijuana enthusiasts gathered in Denver’s Civic Center on Thursday, praying for rain to hold off during 420 festivities, lawmakers across the park rejected an effort to ban cannabis use in churches.

The Legislature on Thursday also approved adding post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, pushed a last-minute amendment as a bill that addressed open and public consumption was being considered for a final time in the House. Some lawmakers suggested that Pabon had hijacked the broader bill for an unrelated issue.

“This bill is about open and public. I’m confused about what we’re doing here because we’re talking about a place of worship …” said Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton. “Allow people to do what they want in a church.”

Pabon pushed the amendment in response to the International Church of Cannabis, which opened in Denver as lawmakers were debating the legislation. Pabon was careful to offer an exemption for religious purposes, but it wasn’t enough to persuade colleagues.

“We have a particular group of individuals who are seeking to take advantage of our consumption laws because a church would be considered private … and using that as a shroud to essentially allow consumption in a place where it should not be allowed,” Pabon said “A place of religious worship should not be authorized as a place for marijuana consumption.”

The International Church of Cannabis made national headlines after it boasted “Elevationism,” what the church refers to as religion for marijuana consumers. Followers believe cannabis should be used as a sacrament.

The effort by Pabon saw criticism from both sides of the aisle. It failed on a procedural motion and never came up for a vote.

Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, said he “thoroughly and utterly” disagreed with the proposal.

“This is the archetypal nanny state right here,” Salazar said. “This amendment is saying to people we don’t like the way you worship.”

The attempt highlighted the continually evolving Senate Bill 184, which started as a measure that would have authorized local governments to allow private marijuana clubs. But that provision was stripped from the bill over health concerns and opposition expressed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

Instead, the measure only defines what open and public consumption of marijuana is, a thorny issue that has perplexed lawmakers since rules and regulations were first crafted in 2013.

Public places – where marijuana use is prohibited – would be defined as highways, transportation facilities, parks, playgrounds, and the common areas of public buildings, to name a few places.

The stripped-down bill was approved by the House on a vote of 35-30. It now heads back to the Senate for consideration of House amendments before it can go to the governor for his signature.

Also on Thursday, the House gave initial approval to a bill that would add post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. The Legislature has been debating the issue for years, but this is the first year that offers a glimmer of hope for pushing the legislation through.

“On this auspicious day, we have a serious bill,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, a sponsor of the bill, who pointed to the 420 celebrations.

“We know that there is no medical cure for post-traumatic stress disorder. Therapy, medication, exercise, diet, there’s no silver bullet. … This bill opens that door, it opens that door for our veterans to ensure that they are not sacrificing their future the way they decided to sacrifice their own health, and in some cases their own mental health for our country.”

The legislation saw some controversy over whether children should be allowed to use medical marijuana for PTSD. A successful amendment was offered Thursday that adds strict guidelines for recommending marijuana for children, including requiring that a pediatrician, board-certified family physician or board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, make the recommendation.

Senate Bill 17 must still receive a final vote by the House before heading back to the Senate to approve amendments.