Idaho’s first-ever medical school approved by state board
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The State Board of Education has unanimously approved an agreement to build Idaho’s first private medical school during its Thursday meeting. According to the board’s agenda, an investor group out of New Mexico has identified Idaho State University’s Meridian campus as a future location for a private osteopathic medical school. The investors, known as the Burrell Group, want to affiliate with a public university to build a private medical school. The Burrell Group previously considered Montana as a possible location, but those discussions fell through in December. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and the Department of Commerce have reviewed the agreement.
Montana court limits commercial sales of medical marijuana
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court says medical marijuana providers should be paid for their services, but it also restricted them to selling the drug to three patients each. The ruling Thursday struck down part of a 2011 law that would have banned commercial sales. But it upheld another part of the law that said providers can sell the drug to no more than three people. The 2011 law represented one of the most significant rollbacks attempted by the 23 states and Washington, D.C., that allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes. The state high court also upheld provisions of the law that ban medical marijuana advertising and create an automatic review for doctors who recommend the drug for more than 25 patients.
Environmentalists sue for more rules to protect sage grouse
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Environmental groups are suing to force the Obama administration to impose more restrictions on oil and gas drilling, grazing and other activities blamed for the decline of greater sage grouse across the American West. The lawsuit filed Thursday says a sweeping conservation effort the government announced last September is riddled with loopholes and won’t be enough to protect the bird from extinction. The suit follows several legal challenges against the same rules from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Mining companies, ranchers and officials in Utah, Idaho and Nevada say the administration’s actions will impede economic development.
Student suicide occurs while lawsuit pending against school
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 17-year-old high school student took his own life nearly two years after his parents sued the Livingston School District saying officials weren’t doing enough to protect their son from bullying. School officials and the boy’s parents declined to talk with The Billings Gazette about the lawsuit, which was filed in April 2014. The boy died on Feb. 14. The lawsuit said the boy suffered from learning disabilities and alleged fellow students were calling him “stupid” and repeatedly assaulting him. The boy told counselors he had thoughts of suicide and he was twice admitted to a pediatric psychiatric ward in Billings, where he was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Supreme Court orders retrial in sexual assault case
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court has reversed a Stevensville man’s convictions for incest, rape and sexual assault involving two 11-year-old girls and ordered a new trial. The court ruled Tuesday that the judge was wrong not to allow a defense expert to testify that she believed a counselor asked leading questions of the man’s daughter. Justices also found the judge did not weigh the merits before allowing the Rape Shield Law to be used as grounds to exclude evidence that the other girl had knowledge of sexual activities because her father had pleaded guilty to abusing her. The defense sought to argue that the second girl’s allegations against him were fabricated.
First Yellowstone grizzly spotted out of its den
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park has reported its first grizzly bear sighting of 2016. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that park officials spotted the male grizzly bear Tuesday near the Nez Perce Creek drainage during a wolf survey flight. Park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett says the timing of this year’s first grizzly sighting has come a little earlier than average. It also comes about two weeks later than the first male grizzly bear sighting in 2015. Last year’s first sighting was reported on Feb. 9. Male bears typically come out of their dens first and females without cubs leave earlier than those with cubs.
Kila woman killed in single-vehicle crash
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say a woman has died after driving off the road and into a tree in Flathead County.
The Flathead Beacon reports that Montana Highway Patrol Trooper John Underwood says the 56-year-old woman had been driving near Kila on Wednesday when she veered off the road and struck a tree.
The victim, who has not been identified, was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The crash remains under investigation.
Belgrade man charged with possessing 52 pounds of marijuana
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A 32-year-old Belgrade man is facing drug charges after a Montana Highway Patrol officer found 52 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Troy Arthur Warburton appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court on Thursday on a charge of felony possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute. He did not enter a plea, and his bail was set at $20,000.
Prosecutors say a detective with the Missouri River Drug Task Force received a search warrant for Warburton’s vehicle. He was later stopped by the patrol on Wednesday. During a search of the vehicle, a task force detective found four large garbage bags containing packages of marijuana.
Defense attorney Ashley Whipple asked for $5,000 bail, stressing that Warburton is presumed innocent, completed a deferred sentence on his previous drug conviction and has a family.
Former Gibson worker charged with stealing, pawning guitars
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A former employee of a high-end guitar manufacturer is charged with stealing eight guitars and selling them at a pawn shop.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports 27-year-old Joseph Clayton Erickson was arrested Wednesday and made an initial appearance in Justice Court on Thursday on a felony theft charge. He didn’t enter a plea, and his bail was set at $5,000.
Court records say the manager of Gibson Acoustic reported Erickson stole eight guitars last year and pawned them at a Bozeman pawn shop. The guitars had a retail value of $15,500.
Prosecutors say when officers interviewed Erickson he acknowledged taking the guitars.
Defense attorney Chad Glenn asked for the $5,000 bail, saying Erickson is not a flight risk, that the guitars had been recovered and that his client cooperated with investigators.