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Illegal marijuana shipment sparks controversy

At Minnesota Medical Solutions, two executives were caught trying to ship $500,000 worth of marijuana oil from Minnesota to New York in late 2015, rendering the legal medical marijuana an illegal substance upon crossing state lines. The executives in question, Laura Bultman, chief medical officer, and Ronald Owens, chief security officer, were caught attempting to ship the oil to New York via armored car in anticipation of shortages at the start of the 2016 year. Last month, county prosecution officially charged the pair who are no longer employed by the company with felonies for planning and attempting to ship over five kilograms of weed. Due to the already tenuous nature of the use of medical marijuana in the state, this recent incident has provided ammunition to senators currently opposed to this hot-button issue.

This was a big risk for some of us. We wanted it done well, and we need everybody involved with this to hold themselves to the highest standard, said Republican Sen. Michelle Benson to ABC news, who has flipped sides regarding marijuana manufacturer licensing. The people responsible for executing it have put us in an incredibly difficult place.

As part of the punishment for the attempted shipment, Republicans in the legislature are now pushing for the state to retain the right to revoke licenses to sell medical marijuana. A $1 million dollar fine has also been issued along with other penalties yet to be stipulated.

We don t think that kind of action is excusable and should be allowed to continue, Republican Sen. Nick Zerwas told ABC. While in Minnesota the use of medical marijuana is mostly in its experimental phase, its production has been on the rise. Last year the state designated 40 acres for the dedicated growing of weed for medicinal purposes, getting $250,000 in returns, and this year the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has pledged an additional 2,155 acres.

It was the first year and we learned a lot, said Commissioner Matthew Wohlman to the Echo Press. A lot of work we had to do was to negotiate with the federal government for permits to secure the seed, licensing and approving the growers, and tracking the growers statewide. The future of such programs, however, has been thrown into flux due to how state officials have reacted to these most recent developments.

Nova Scotia Course Teaches Retail Workers How To Not Be Racist

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Nova Scotia Course Teaches Retail Workers How To Not Be Racist

HALIFAX More than a decade after racial profiling was identified as a festering problem among some police forces, it is now being addressed in another sector: retailing. After years of complaints about retail staff who routinely follow, search, ignore, insult and provide poor service to visible minorities, one province has decided to do something about it in a big way. On Monday, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission launched a free, online training program aimed at preventing a problem that has sparked a growing chorus of complaints across the country.

The 20-minute interactive course for front-line service staff described as the first of its kind in Canada has already attracted attention from businesses in other provinces and the United States, and plans are in the works to roll out a national campaign.

Nova Scotia Course Teaches Retail Workers How To Not Be Racist
Lennett Anderson, senior pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church, speaks as Justice Minister Diana Whalen, and Christine Hanson, CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, look on in Dartmouth, N.S. on Monday.

“As a proud African Nova Scotian and seventh-generation Canadian … I am acutely aware of the problems associated with navigating race relations in our society,” Rev. Lennett Anderson of the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia told a news conference at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

“The need for a campaign such as this is a desperate one … It is worthy of our celebration.”

The retail sector is Canada’s largest employer, with over two million people working in an industry that generated $59 billion in payroll in 2015.

“The need for a campaign such as this is a desperate one … ”
Rev. Lennett Anderson

Christine Hanson, CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, said the need for such a training program was reinforced in 2013 when the commission released a groundbreaking report that concluded aboriginal people and African Canadians more often reported being treated poorly by retail staff than did any other group.

“In fact, people from all racialized groups, including Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern people, reported being treated poorly by staff far more than did white people,” the report said. “In the focus groups, several participants commented on being made to feel ‘lower class’ or like ‘second-class citizens’ when shopping.”

Nova Scotia Course Teaches Retail Workers How To Not Be Racist
Christine Hanson, CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, announces an online training course dealing with consumer racial profiling to educate retail businesses, in Dartmouth, N.S. on Monday.

The report went on to say that aboriginal people, African Canadians, and Muslims were all targets of offensive language and were treated as if they were physically threatening and potential thieves.

“A person who is a member of a visible minority group is three times more likely to be followed in a store, and four times more likely to be searched,” Hanson said. The online program, called “Serving All Customers Better[1],” includes a quiz about immigration and visible minorities. It also cites statistics from the 2013 report and clearly spells out what the law says. The course also cites some examples, at one point quoting a worker who said: “I worked for a retailer who said, ‘The eagle has landed,’ when a black person walked into the store. I quit my job over it.”

Examples of consumer racial profiling continue to make headlines across the country.

In October 2015, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario agreed with a woman who said she faced discrimination as a black person when she was confronted by a Shoppers Drug Mart employee who demanded to search her backpack on suspicion of shoplifting. The tribunal ordered the store to pay Mary McCarthy $8,000. And in February 2015, Calgary university student Jean Ventose said he was racially profiled when he was followed by a security guard inside a local Walmart, apparently for no reason. He posted a video on the encounter on Facebook, which received more than one million views and 10,000 reactions in two days. In August 2016, one of Canada’s largest grocery chains withdrew its appeal of a human rights decision that found an employee of Sobeys had discriminated against a black customer in May 2009 after falsely accusing her of being a repeat shoplifter.

Sobeys said it reached a settlement with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and would apologize to Andrella David, pay her $21,000 in compensation, and develop a staff training program on racial profiling. The company faced a boycott by a group of 19 churches in the province. As well, Nova Scotia’s first black lieutenant-governor, Mayann Francis, came forward to reveal that she, too, had been the victim of repeated racial profiling while shopping. At the time, Francis said Nova Scotia was in a state of denial when it came to racial profiling, saying she had often been the victim of “shopping while black” since she left her viceregal post in 2012.

“It does not matter how successful you are, it still can happen to you,” said Francis, who had previously served as CEO of the province’s human rights commission.

Nova Scotia Course Teaches Retail Workers How To Not Be Racist
Former lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, Mayann Francis, says she has experienced racial profiling while shopping.

“It’s just so wrong and so hurtful and I know how I feel when I’m followed in the stores … They’re stalking you.”

Earlier in the year, the Hudson’s Bay Company agreed to educate its staff about racial profiling as part of a settlement in the case of a now-deceased Nova Scotia grandmother allegedly accused of shoplifting a rug from a Zellers outlet in 2008.

“It’s just so wrong and so hurtful and I know how I feel when I’m followed in the stores … They’re stalking you.”
Mayann Francis, First black lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia

Anderson, the pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Hammonds Plains, N.S., said the new online course in Nova Scotia marks a big step forward for visible minorities.

“Today, we are engaging in a courageous conversation,” he said. “We have decided that it’s time to confront major issues in our society … Race is not a card we play, it’s a life we live … This campaign is not about behaviour modification, it’s about a societal transformation.”

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  1. ^ Serving All Customers Better (www.servingall.ca)

Bill would require state to notify any municipality where sex offender is transferred

Press release

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) says the Senate has once again approved a bill that would require New York State to notify a local municipality when a sex offender is transferred from a state facility to a community program or residence. The Senate also passed the legislation (S.2132) in 2015 and 2016, but it failed in the Assembly. The bill sponsored by Gallivan would amend the mental hygiene law to require the Commissioner of the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to notify the chief executive officer of any municipality where a sex offender is transferred. The superintendent of schools in which the facility is located would also have to be notified.

“The state has an obligation to notify local leaders whenever the transfer of a potentially dangerous sex offender into a residential or community program occurs, Gallivan said. Too often, community leaders learn of the transfer after the fact and don t have adequate time to properly address public concerns and potential security issues. The legislation would require the commissioner of OPWDD to notify local officials no later than 10 calendar days prior to the transfer taking place.

In the past, the state has placed developmentally disabled sex offenders at state-owned group homes in Western New York and across the state, catching many communities off guard and raising concerns about public safety.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.