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Original and in-depth coverage about topics important to Pennsylvania

Testing marijuana for contaminants debated

Jason Collinsworth travels more than three hours each way to Santa Cruz, California, once, sometimes twice, a month to buy the medical marijuana he smokes to help deal with his gastrointestinal disorder.

Even though there are dispensaries much closer to the Tuolumne County resident, he said they don’t test their marijuana for contaminants and potency. 

Collinsworth, 38, said one of those nearby dispensaries once sold him marijuana that was stripped of its “medicinal” THC component with butane, the same chemical found in lighter fluid.  

And the uncertainty isn’t worth it, he said. 

So he drives.

Back-to-school preparations often exclude vaccines in PA

Only a small percentage of Pennsylvania families claim an exemption to the state’s vaccination requirements. The much larger problem is that many children are not up-to-date on their vaccines at the start of school.

Cori Shetter, 31

Minimum-wage debate heats up in Pennsylvania

Several proposed bills in the state Legislature aim to raise the minimum wage. Some employers worry a mandated higher wage would harm their businesses, but employees say they can’t live on current minimums.

Parents drive national momentum for children and medical marijuana

PITTSBURGH - In room 716 of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, 12-year-old Hannah Pallas is motionless, but for an occasional turn of her head and the blink of her eyes, following a series of life-threatening seizures. On the same day, 5-year-old Sydney Michaels is down the hall in room 749, waiting to be discharged after 15 grand mal seizures within 36 hours.

Their mothers have known each other for years, though it’s a hapless coincidence caused by their daughters’ epilepsy that brings them to the pediatric unit on the same day.

Efforts to legalize marijuana continue to span the nation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advocacy groups have poured millions of dollars into legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana in states across the country.

One of the most powerful and influential groups – Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project – was behind successful recreational measures in Alaska and Colorado, two of four states that now allow recreational use. MPP organizers hope to replicate those efforts in five other states during the 2016 elections, an undertaking they say will – if successful – prove significant for the effort to end marijuana prohibition.

Millennial women closing gender wage gap

Part of the project: #generation

The generation is more likely to focus on career long before family, a social trend that is contributing to the reduction of pay inequality between men and women.

Going it alone: Low-income single moms struggle to find help, escape judgment

Part of the project: Single moms

Many single mothers contend with unemployment, poverty and scattered resources, all while bearing the judgment that they are welfare queens and their families are lesser than two-parent families.

drainage from the Clyde Mine

DEP’s testing methods for radiation in a PA creek questioned

Concerns about the environment and public health have not been quelled by the state environmental agency or by radiation results from university researchers.

One professional’s fight with stigma, denial and opioid painkillers

Part of the project: Heroin: Riding the Rush

How public judgment hurts recovery and how professionals can get help.

At least 1.1 million Pennsylvania homes lack Internet access

Costs and difficulties governing competition among Internet providers pose barriers to the great equalizer.

As bicycle commuting rises, so does danger of pedaling by trucks

Safety advocates say a simple truck retrofit could start saving bicyclists’ lives immediately, but there’s no state or federal push to make the reform.

Millennials are buying homes later, but still want a place of their own

Part of the project: #generation

The lingering fallout from the economic recession, and social trends of delaying marriage and children, has left Millennials struggling to take the first step on the property ladder.

Two men. One coal-ash dump. No answers.

Inmates at a state prison in LaBelle, Fayette County, and town residents believe a coal ash dump has made them sick.

Jesse James and sister

Prison release rarely an option for dying state inmates

Only nine terminally ill inmates have been released from Pennsylvania state prisons since 2010. Advocates think the law is too strict and confusing.

PA group takes first steps to protect seniors

An advisory council moves quickly to implement initial measures to benefit seniors in the courts and financial matters.

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