Regional Briefs – January 5, 2016

NY Medical Marijuana Program to Begin Thursday

ALBANY – New Yorkers with cancer, Parkinson’s or other qualifying conditions will be able to obtain medical marijuana beginning Thursday, 18 months after the law passed, The Associated Press reported. Of 23 states with similar laws, New York’s is the strictest, allowing only non-smokable forms of the drug.

ACLU Warns School Not to Say ‘G-d Bless America’

HADDON HEIGHTS, N.J. – The ACLU warned an elementary school to end the practice of students saying “G-d bless America” after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, The Associated Press reported. The principal says that the practice is patriotic but the school will discontinue it, though he won’t prevent students from saying the phrase.

Cigarette Sparks House Fire, Killing Ellenville Woman

ELLENVILLE, N.Y. – A woman was found dead Sunday in Ellenville after a cigarette started a house fire, The Associated Press reported. The windows of the home of Patrizia Renucci, 52, were covered in a black coating. All smoke detectors appeared to have been disabled.

Ex-Police Chief Facing Federal Charges, Due $430K

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. – A police chief fired for beating a suspect during interrogation and then coercing officers to lie about it will receive $430,000 for unused sick and vacation time, Newsday reported. James Burke also gets a pension.

NY Launches New Student Loan Forgiveness Program

ALBANY – New York state is now accepting applications for a new student loan forgiveness program from recent graduates struggling with education debt. However, “Get on Your Feet,” which offers up to two years of payments, is not available for private schools.