Legalized hemp advocates in Md. hope this is the year 

Proponents of industrial hemp say legalization of the cannabis relative offers many potential benefits, and, if a bill in the state Legislature is approved, Maryland might be part of a growing acceptance of the plant. A key obstacle remains public unfamiliarity with hemp’s properties and capabilities, proponents say. (Daily Record)

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WMHS, UPMC finalize their agreement for clinical affiliation

The definitive agreement for the clinical affiliation between Western Maryland Health System and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center was signed Thursday by officials from each health system. The agreement was approved by the WMHS Board of Directors on Jan. 18, formalizing plans for the two health systems to work cooperatively to enhance health care services for local residents. The WMHS Board of Directors made the decision last year to pursue negotiations with UPMC, one of nation’s largest provider-led integrated delivery and finance systems. UPMC also has a nationally ranked academic center. (Times-News)

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Bill would allow tattoo shops in downtown Towson with some exceptions

Grant Aikin, a full-time member of the National Guard, in Towson, and Deirdre Aikin, a tattoo artist, live to the east of Towson in Baltimore’s Hamilton neighborhood. For more than 27 years, Deirdre Aikin has worked at tattoo shops in Baltimore and elsewhere along the East Coast because Baltimore County zoning regulations do not allow her to open her own shop closer to home. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore-based Zipline Ski aims to give Olympic freestylists an edge

Chuck Heidenreich had no hope for Olympic glory when he skied freestyle on the U.S. Ski Team in the mid-1980s. It wasn’t until 1992 that the mix of speed, skill, acrobatics and showmanship on the slopes became a medal sport, years after Heidenreich retired from the World Cup circuit. But now, Heidenreich has a second chance. Products he created at Baltimore-based Zipline Ski are making their way to this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which kicked off Friday. Zipline’s ski poles, goggles and other gear will be used by skiers from the United States, Norway, Finland and Germany as they compete on the high-profile world stage. (Balt. Sun)

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These Greater Baltimore fundraisers raised the most money in 2017

The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation raised $3.1 million at the 13th annual Aspire Gala –– nearly double the amount the event raised in 2016 –– making it the top fundraising event in the Baltimore area in 2017. The event took place on Feb. 24 at the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott. Each year, the foundation honors leaders from the sports, entertainment, and business industries for excellence in their fields, dedication to helping others, and inspiring on and off the field/court. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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February 9 // Maryland Senate votes to delay paid sick leave until July, days before law set to take effect

Just three days before the state’s new paid sick leave law is scheduled to take effect, the Maryland Senate on Thursday voted to delay the policy until July. Advocates for the delay say businesses simply aren’t ready to let the estimated 700,000 workers without paid sick leave start accruing it, and state regulators say they are not prepared to enforce the law. “Let’s just postpone all this to July 1 to give time to get it right,” said Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton, a chief advocate for the mandatory paid sick leave proposal and for delaying when it takes effect. (Balt. Sun)

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Fowl air? Lawmakers propose study to begin tracking air pollution from Maryland chicken farms

The rise of industrial-scale chicken houses on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in recent years has raised questions about their impact on residents’ health. Legislation pending in the General Assembly seeks to answer one of them: What are they putting into the air? Lawmakers are weighing a study of whether huge chicken farms are polluting the air around them — a new front in an ongoing debate over how the state’s expansive poultry industry affects the environment. The proposal, debated Wednesday in the House of Delegates, is stirring conflicts pitting economic development against public health, and scientific research versus political activism. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland Attorney General asks judge to order fentanyl manufacturer to turn over documents

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh asked a court this week to order a manufacturer of a fentanyl spray to turn over records that investigators think could shed light on deceptive marketing practices. Frosh’s office has been investigating the firm, Insys Therapeutics, since 2016 as part of a broader probe into companies that make opioids and their role in contributing to the state’s overdose crisis. The office told an Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge that Insys has not been properly responding to subpoenas. (Balt. Sun)

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