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Ohio legislature votes to allow limited medical marijuana use

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Lawmakers in Ohio on Wednesday approved legislation that would legalize marijuana use for medical purposes under certain circumstances, less than a year after recreational marijuana use was soundly defeated by Ohio voters.

The bill, approved by both chambers of the state’s Republican-led legislature, heads to Republican Governor John Kasich for his signature as his office said on Wednesday that he will review the bill.

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During the last few years, state legislatures and voters in the United States have been much more receptive to making the use of marijuana legal for medical purposes than for recreational use.

Some 24 states and Washington D.C. currently allow some type of medical marijuana use while only a handful of states allow for recreational use. It remains illegal on the federal level.

The Ohio legislation is more limiting than some in that it only allows patients with specific medical conditions to use an oil, edible, tincture or vapor form of marijuana prescribed by a physician licensed in the state, starting in 2017.

“This bill is not perfect, but it’s what Ohio patients need,” Ohio Senator Kenny Yuko, a Democrat, said before his house approved the bill.

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“Marijuana is not a gateway drug, but a gateway off drugs.”

Medical marijuana users would not be allowed to smoke or grow their own marijuana under the measure, which also would create a commission responsible for regulating and licensing of all operations of the drug.

In November, Ohio voters soundly rejected a measure that would have made it the first U.S. Midwestern state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

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Lawmakers from both parties voted for and against the bill on Wednesday. Some opponents of the measure have said that the qualifying list of medical conditions is too limited.

The measure was fast-tracked to head off a possible less-restrictive medical marijuana ballot initiative in November.

In a poll released in early May, 90 percent of Ohio voters supported the legalization for medical marijuana.

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(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Editing by Michael Perry)


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Vote-splitting fears raised in final days of Canada election

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In the dying days of what Justin Trudeau described as one of the "nastiest" election campaigns in Canadian history -- with plenty of mudslinging, attack ads and misinformation -- he played up fears on Thursday of vote-splitting handing victory to his rival Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives.

Policy announcements gave way to calls to vote strategically to keep Trudeau's Liberals in power and prevent a rollback of his progressive policies by the Tories.

Pollsters predict a minority government -- either Liberal or Conservative -- resulting from the October 21 ballot.

Attack ads accused Liberals of seeking to legalize hard drugs and the Tories of allowing assault rifles on Canadian streets -- claims that are flat out wrong or exaggerated, respectively.

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Japan emperor to proclaim enthronement in ritual-bound ceremony

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Japan's new Emperor Naruhito will formally proclaim his ascension to the throne next week in a ritual-bound ceremony, but the after-effects of deadly typhoon will cast a shadow over proceedings.

Naruhito officially assumed his duties as emperor on May 1, a day after his father became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years.

But the transition will not be complete until his new role is officially proclaimed on Tuesday, in a series of events expected to be attended by foreign dignitaries from nearly 200 countries.

The event will come just over a week after Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan, killing nearly 80 people and leaving a trail of destruction.

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US imposes tariffs on EU goods, targeting Airbus, wine and whisky

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The United States imposed tariffs on a record $7.5-billion worth of European Union goods on Friday, despite threats of retaliation, with Airbus, French wine and Scottish whiskies among the high-profile targets.

The tariffs, which took effect just after midnight in Washington (0401 GMT), came after talks between European officials and US trade representatives failed to win a last-minute reprieve.

The WTO-endorsed onslaught from US President Donald Trump also comes as Washington is mired in a trade war with China and could risk destabilising the global economy further.

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