The Independent

See, we're tough on drug smugglers.

That's the message Panama sent when authorities torched 14 tons of cocaine, marijuana and heroin on Tuesday.

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The country might be hoping to push back on its reputation as a transit point for illicit drugs in advance of the Summit of Americas later this week, when regional leaders will meet to discuss policy issues, include what to do about drug violence that has plagued Central America.

Not all Latin American leaders think bonfires are the answer. The president of Guatemala, which has suffered some of the worst violence, has floated the idea of legalizing drugs. At the summit in 2012, however, President Obama said "legalization is not the answer."

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Hopefully environmental issues won't come up at the meeting — burning all that plastic can't be a good thing.

Chilean municipality harvests medical marijuana

While the fires rage in Panama, a municipality in the Chilean capital of Santiago is taking a gentler approach to marijuana policy.

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The municipality and a non-profit group called the Daya Foundation are testing a medical marijuana pilot program that could eventually become a model for the entire country, The Associated Press reports.

On Tuesday, they harvested cannabis buds from 850 plants (imported from the Netherlands), Next they'll extract oil to provide medicine for 200 cancer patients.

Chile's broader marijuana policy may change soon, too. A law that would allow for home grows of up to six plants has the support of a health commission, but still needs approval from the country's congress.

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Arizona court allows medical marijuana for felons on probation

Nearly half the states in the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana, but there are still plenty of gray areas.

Probation, for instance. Felons released from jail on probation are typically required to stay away from illegal drugs, including marijuana.

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Here's where things get tricky: what happens in states where marijuana is legal for medical use?

The Arizona Supreme Court answered that question in their state on Tuesday. Judges ruled that courts and prosecutors could not block felons from accessing medical marijuana if they had been approved to use the drug, The Arizona Republic reports.

They considered two cases: one of a man whose probation officer required he not use marijuana once released from prison; another of a woman who turned down a plea deal because one of the conditions stated she couldn't use weed.

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"The Supreme Court is recognizing what the people decided when they passed the initiative: You can use your medicine," said David Euchner, an assistant Pima County public defender.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.