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Archive for Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Science briefs

June 5, 2001

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Nevada approves medical marijuana bill

Nevada state lawmakers voted Monday to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and relax penalties for possession of the drug.

The Assembly's vote puts the state on a potential collision course with the federal government. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that a federal law classifying the drug as illegal includes no exception for medical uses. The state Senate has already approved the bill, and it is expected to receive Gov. Kenny Guinn's signature. The bill would allow seriously ill Nevadans to have up to seven marijuana plants.

New procedure may safeguard blood supply

A key part of the nation's blood supply could be made safe from viruses, bacteria and parasites with the use of a chemical activated by ultraviolet light. Cerus Corp. said it has performed hundreds of successful tests on blood products using a process it calls Helinx, which attacks strands of genetic material at the center of all living things and prevents DNA and RNA from replicating.

Dr. Bernadine Healy, national director for the American Red Cross, said the procedure could add significant protection to the blood supply.

Pediatricians urged to ask patients about rape

Citing statistics showing adolescents have the nation's highest rate of rape, the American Academy of Pediatrics says doctors should ask patients at checkups if they have been sexually assaulted.

Pediatricians may be the first professionals victims encounter, the academy says.

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