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Roundtable: Use Medical Pot, Lose Your Kids; Somalis Appeal Conviction; Pope Francis Simply Appeals



Mark Sauer


Joshua Emerson Smith, San Diego CityBeat

Amita Sharma, KPBS News

Angela Carone, KPBS News


Use Medical Marijuana, Lose Your Kids?

The local chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, estimates that San Diego County Child Welfare Services has removed children from parents with medical marijuana prescriptions at least 35 times in the last three years.

County officials say that in all cases, abuse or neglect was established before removing the children. Others say it doesn’t matter to the county whether people are using the drug legally or whether their children are actually impacted by it; Removing children from the home, they say, is a way to get the parents to stop using marijuana period.

A child's custody is determined by Juvenile Dependency Court, which can remove children without charging the parents with anything. When their children are taken, most parents waive their legal rights and submit to monitoring to regain custody.

An appeals court in Los Angeles County ruled last year that: 1. Welfare agencies must establish abuse before removing children from the home and; 2. Using medical marijuana is not substance abuse per se.

San Diego Somalis Appeal Conviction

Four Somali men living in San Diego were convicted and sentenced in November of this year for sending funds to Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization in Somalia.

After the trial, their attorney, Joshua Dratel, said that the case against them began with the National Security Agency's collection of the phone records of every American. He asked a federal judge for a new trial and has now appealed the judge’s denial to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Dratel said had he known about the surveillance, he would have argued the case differently. The U.S. government now discloses to the defense when evidence is gained through NSA surveillance, but it didn't then. Another possible appeal argument is whether evidence gathering without a search warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Pope Francis Appeals In San Diego

He’s been named Person of the Year for both Time magazine and The Advocate. He seems to be in every national newscast. He says things like, “Who am I to judge?” (Well, some might point out, he’s the pope.)

Some view Pope Francis as a radical. He removed a conservative American cardinal from the Congregation of Bishops for saying Catholic leadership could never talk enough about abortion and the “integrity of marriage.”

He lives in a two-room apartment, drives an old car and wears worn black shoes. He is the opposite of aloof, wading into adoring crowds whenever he can. What do these attributes mean to San Diego Catholics? How do San Diegans’ opinions of the Pope compare with others around the world? And are there folks who view him negatively?

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