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How Spotlight PA spurred new medical pot research

Plus, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s affordable college plan.

The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Monday, January 29, 2024
Today: Discovery phase, budget cuts, PASSHE reform, cyber clearance, settlement shares, and welcome to the 'fat dog capital of America.' 
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A 2022 Spotlight PA court victory has led to new academic research on Pennsylvania's eight-year-old medical marijuana program.

Spotlight PA won access to anonymized data showing why hundreds of thousands of patients qualify for medical marijuana here.

Officials then shared the data with academic researchers across the state, including those with the Geisinger health system who used it to analyze relationships between qualifying conditions, dispensary locations, and the proportion of adults with medical marijuana in certain areas.

The researchers call the work “the first study in the U.S. of the association between dispensary locations and qualifying conditions.”

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Spotlight PA court victory leads to new academic research into Pa. medical marijuana program.


“Fetterman, Fetterman, you can't hide, you're supporting genocide."

Pro-Palestine protesters outside the Braddock home of U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) as he waved an Israeli flag back at them from the roof
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An ice-covered Lake Nockamixon in Bucks County, via Don N. Have a photo you want the whole commonwealth to see? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

An ice-covered lake surrounded by bare trees. The sky above is bright blue and clear.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.BUDGET BREAKDOWN: Penn State plans to cut $94 million from its budget systemwide starting in 2025. A significant portion of the cuts will affect the school’s branch campuses, which are slated to lose $54 million pending final approval, Spotlight PA reports. 
  • 20% funding cut planned for WPSU, via WPSU.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.SWEEPING REFORM: Tuition and fees at state-owned colleges would max out at $1,000 per semester for in-state families making $70,000 or less under a sweeping reform plan being proposed by Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro. GOP critics were quick to pounce.
  • Shapiro wants $282M public transit funding boost, via NBC10.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
NEW SCHOOL: The Shapiro administration has approved a new cyber charter school, marking the first such approval in eight years and a break from his party's "long-held disapproval of the low-performing virtual schools," The Inquirer (paywall) reports.
  • Long-sought charter school changes on the table as Pa. lawmakers plot education funding overhaul, via Spotlight PA.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.COURT RULING: A judge says state officials have the power to enter into legal settlements on behalf of Pennsylvanians after two district attorneys challenged local shares of an opioid settlement brokered by then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro, TribLIVE reports.
  • Penn State researcher shares preliminary findings on how counties are spending opioid settlement funds, via WPSU.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.IN BRIEF: State Rep. Barry Jozwiak (R., Berks) is the latest legislative retirement; why U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D., Pa.) would likely vote to save GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson's job; and Dem U.S. House hopeful threatens Lancaster reporter over pot remark.
🤔 PA NEWS QUIZ: Think you know what's happening in Pennsylvania? Prove it with the latest Great PA News Quiz: Trump travel, 'monopoly power,' a rare ethics complaint, and Punxsutawney PETA.
UNDER ATTACK: A suspected cyberattack — Pennsylvania's latest — prompted a U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigation in Washington County last week, via Observer-Reporter.

THE 'BURBS: Benjamin Herold’s new book Disillusioned follows families in the suburbs of U.S. cities like Pittsburgh and what The Atlantic (paywall) describes as the Ponzi scheme of the American Dream.

BAG BANS: As more Pennsylvania towns move to ban single-use plastic bags, research says New Jersey's plastic consumption tripled after it barred them. Other forms of plastic filled the void, per USA Today.

POWER UP: Pennsylvania's largest solar array, built on more than 1,755 acres in Franklin and Fulton Counties, is making enough power for roughly 38,060 homes. All of it is being purchased by UPenn, via Bay Journal.

BIG DOGS: Don't blame the messenger, but a new survey found Pennsylvania dogs carry over 18 excess pounds, on average, making Pennsylvania "the fat dog capital of America," The Inquirer (paywall) reports.
Are you a Berks County resident? We're seeking community input! Join one of our upcoming Spotlight PA - Berks County listening sessions:

Feb. 21: 5:30-7:30 p.m. at West Lawn-Wyomissing Hills Library | Register Here

A listening session is an informal, small-group discussion in which we are seeking your thoughts, opinions, and concerns on local news coverage, information access, community information needs, and news consumption habits. Visit spotlightpa.org/berks for more information.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Friday's answer: Buttonhole

Congrats to our weekly winner: Antonia O.

Congrats to our daily winners: Kimberly D., Stacy S., Ted W., Jessica K., Bob C., Dan A., Jimmy E., Gail J., Don H., Barbara F., Susan N.-Z., Lynne E., Elaine C., Tracy S., Daniel M., Vicki U., Craig E., Richard A., Kim C., Jane R., Jon W., Alan B., Wendy A., Beth H., Fran C., Tom M., Jeffrey F., William Z., Ada M., Tish M., Stanley J., and Jann Z.
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