NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging federal laws criminalizing marijuana as unconstitutional. District Judge Alvin Heller stein says the five plaintiffs had failed to pursue changes in the drug’s legal status by first going through the Drug Enforcement Administration. He didn’t address the plaintiffs claim that marijuana has medical benefits, but said the DEA has the authority to make that decision and not the courts. Plaintiffs included former NFL player Marvin Washington, the co-founder of a company that sells hemp-based sports products; Army veteran Jose Belen, who said the horrors of the Iraq War left him with post-traumatic stress disorder; and two young children who use marijuana to treat medical conditions.
DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s largest city has signed off on the first legal marijuana club within its borders. Owners of the Coffee Joint in plan to charge an entry fee to the bring-your-own marijuana space. Customers won’t be able to smoke, but the business will allow vaping and edible marijuana products. Colorado law doesn’t address pot clubs. In some cities, they are tolerated, while others operate secretly. Denver voters in 2016 approved a ballot measure allowing pot clubs. The city began taking applications in August, but businesses had to complete an extensive application and adhere to strict limits on location.
OVER THE BARRELS
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jack Daniel’s is turning to state lawmakers to ensure that distillers aren’t subject to property tax on whiskey barrels in Tennessee, which the company says it hasn’t had to pay since at least the end of Prohibition eight decades ago. The whiskey giant is pushing a liquor barrel property tax exemption bill after a county auditor determined the company’s barrels are taxable as personal property. But Jack Daniel’s contends that the barrels aren’t equipment, but part of the inventory. The barrels are sold and reused, often to age other spirits across the world. A legislative fiscal review has said paying that tax on around 2 million barrels would cost the company an additional $2.8 million this year.
“MUSLIM-FREE” GUN RANGE OWNER RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A cable news commentator and gun-rights advocate who declared her firing range “Muslim-free” has filed paperwork to challenge Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the May primary for the Republican nomination. Jan Morgan of Hot Springs filed the paperwork yesterday. Hutchinson filed last week to run for a second term and Democrat Jared Henderson plans to file today.
NEW YORK (AP) — A New York federal appeals court says U.S. anti-discrimination law protects employees from being fired due to sexual orientation. The ruling pertained to a skydiver instructor who said he was fired after telling a client he was gay. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation. The Department of Justice had argued that it did not.
ELVIS FOR OFFICE
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Elvis Presley is officially running for a congressional seat in Arkansas. But don’t confuse him with the rock ‘n’ roll icon. Elvis D. Presley performs shows as the late superstar Elvis A. Presley, but he’s also now filed to run as the Libertarian nominee to challenge Arkansas Republican Rep. Rick Crawford. Both men filed paperwork yesterday to run for the 1st Congressional District in eastern Arkansas. Crawford has represented the area for four terms.