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Drug Dichotomy: Cocaine Bust at Shore, Medical Marijuana Legal in Montclair

This week's top news from around New Jersey

A five month-long investigation into a drug distribution network resulted in  this week for several Jersey Shore residents, including a Brick man who faces charges of leading the operation, Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford announced Thursday.

As a result of the raids, authorities confiscated approximately 800 grams of cocaine, a 9mm handgun, a 25-caliber handgun, a Mac-10 submachine gun and approximately $50,000 in cash. The investigation included FBI and law enforcement agencies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Suspects from Brick, Toms River, Point Pleasant Borough, Point Pleasant Beach, Manchester and Lakewood were arrested.

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Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair was one of six  announced by the state health department this week. The six nonprofits will be allowed to participate in the nascent industry while several alternative treatment centers will be set up throughout the state.

The state adopted a law more than a year ago permitting pot to be sold to patients with certain conditions. But implementation has taken longer than expected as officials drafted rules indicating how the industry would run. Passage of the law made New Jersey the 14th state to enact rules allowing the growing and selling of marijuana to chronically and seriously ill patients.

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Local school districts discovered on Tuesday that Gov. Chris Christie's state aid cuts from last spring were not only painful, but .

Christie's cuts left New Jersey’s schools unable to provide a "thorough and efficient" education, Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne said in a report that examined the impact of funding cuts. Doyne, who was appointed by the state Supreme Court to examine school spending, found that poor school districts were hurt the most.

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The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to double the time nuclear plants can store spent fuel on site from 30 to 60 years is unacceptable, state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Martin .

"The federal government has an obligation to develop a permanent plan for nuclear waste storage and cannot avoid an answer by extending the time that radioactive waste is allowed to remain on sites in New Jersey and across the nation," Martin said. "That is not acceptable."

New Jersey is seeking to join New York, Vermont and Connecticut in a legal challenge of the NRC's revised "waste confidence rule" that extends the time spent nuclear fuel can be stored on-site at a nuclear power plant from 30 t0 60 years after the plant shuts down operations.

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The Morris County Board of Freeholders Wednesday  that drops the overall tax levy $1.8 million from 2010.

But due to a $4 billion drop in the value of all taxable property in the county, upon which the county bases its budget, the county tax rate will see a slight rise to 21 cents per $100 of assessed value, treasurer Glenn Roe said.

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Hoboken will , Assemblyman Ruben Ramos announced on Thursday afternoon.

The funding is part of a $3.5 billion proposed capital plan for New Jersey in 2012, and will be used to rehabilitate current infrastructure and provide for operational and safety improvements of current roads.

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Changes to reimbursement accounts and to the definition of the teacher workday highlight from the Westfield Education Association to the . The givebacks were negotiated as part of the BOE’s plan to find additional funds for the proposed school budget. The money is being earmarked for three additional faculty positions.

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Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin recently released "The Jersey Sting," a book that details Solomon Dwek's ponzi scheme and how his cooperation with the FBI led to the July 2009 arrests of 44 politicians and others who helped him unfurl his plan. Long Branch Patch summarizes the book .

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U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today led a rally with Planned Parenthood and members of the State Legislature on Tuesday in Englewood, asking Congress to continue funding women’s health programs.

“Planned Parenthood is under attack by Tea Party Republicans who have put their extremist ideology above women’s health,” Lautenberg said. “We’re going to fight to make sure Planned Parenthood can continue serving the health care needs of families in New Jersey and across the country. I am committed to leading the charge in the Senate to protect women from the Republicans in Congress who are trying to take away their access to health care services.”

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Employment in New Jersey rose by 7,500 jobs in February, the State Department of Labor said this week. The February unemployment rate, however, edged up to 9.2 percent from the January rate of 9.1 percent. The slight rise is mainly attributable to the re-entry of “discouraged workers” into the state’s labor force, according to the department.

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