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The Utah Senate has voted to allow a firing squad to carry out executions if the drugs necessary for lethal injections are not available.

The bill, which now heads to Gov. Gary Herbert's desk, would make Utah the only state to permit a firing squad to perform an execution.

Recreational pot is now legal in Washington, D.C., to a certain extent. Initiative 71 took effect at midnight, after some 70 percent of District residents voted to approve the measure last fall.

While some possession and private consumption of marijuana is now permitted in the capital, D.C.'s pot scene won't immediately resemble that of Colorado or Washington state.

Here's a look at where the District's statute stands now, and the possible hang-ups moving forward:

Last November, voters in Alaska took to the polls to legalize recreational pot. Ballot Measure 2 went into effect today, allowing some state residents and visitors to legally own certain amounts and types of marijuana.

Alaska's marijuana laws are still catching up to front runners like Colorado and Washington state, so how is recreational weed regulated in The Last Frontier? Let's take a look at a few of the particulars.

What Do Federal Child Abuse Laws Say? 3 Things You Should Know

In addition to state laws prohibiting child abuse, the federal government has its own laws meant to protect children from neglect and other forms of abuse.

These laws include minimum child welfare standards to which the states are required to conform. However, a recent three-year study by the Children's Advocacy Institute found that none of the states are actually meeting these standards, NPR reports.

What do federal child abuse laws require? And what did the study find when it comes to enforcement of these laws at the state level?

When Do Recreational Pot Laws in Ore., Alaska, D.C. Take Effect?

For some, the biggest news out of this November's election was the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C.

The two states and the District of Columbia are now set to join Colorado and Washington state -- which both passed recreational marijuana laws in 2012 -- in allowing both medical and recreational use of marijuana. But until the newly passed laws take effect, pot users may still run afoul of existing laws prohibiting marijuana use in these jurisdictions.

When do these new laws take effect?

Spending Bill Defunds DOJ Efforts to Fight Medical Marijuana

The federal spending bill recently passed by Congress may have a dramatic impact on the government's enforcement of federal laws criminalizing marijuana even in states that have legalized medical use of the drug.

The bill is currently awaiting President Obama's signature, reports the Los Angeles Times. But if he signs it as expected, the bill will bring an end to the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana in states where it's been legalized.

But while the bill signals a new level of tolerance for medical marijuana at the federal level, an amendment still pushes back on Washington, D.C.'s recent passage of a law legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

Voters Legalize Pot in Ore.; Alaska; Washington, D.C.

Among the many important offices and issues voted on in yesterday's midterm elections were marijuana legalization measures in Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.

And after all was said and done, voters in both states and in Washington, D.C., voted to allow marijuana to be legalized, reports Reuters. Oregon and Alaska now join Washington state and Colorado as the third and fourth states to legalize recreational pot use.

What will these new voter-approved laws allow once they take effect?

Philadelphia is adding increased penalties for hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity after a gay couple was attacked in September.

According to The Associated Press, prosecutors claim they couldn't charge the three assailants with a hate crime because "sexual orientation isn't covered in the state's hate crime law." So Philly's city council moved quickly and passed a new bill authorizing added penalties for hate crimes left out of Pennsylvania's law.

What does this new hate crime law entail?

The Department of Justice will no longer ask defendants who accept a plea deal to waive their rights to appeal their case based on bad advice given by their defense attorneys.

This is a bit of a departure from plea bargain tactics employed by federal prosecutors, which sometimes involve requiring an appeal waiver for any sort of plea deal. According to The Associated Press, this might not be that big a change, as only 35 of the 94 U.S. Attorneys' offices request that defendants pleading guilty give up their right to sue over ineffective counsel.

What does this change in DOJ policy mean for criminal defendants in federal court?

Philadelphia may have just become the largest U.S. city to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot with a bill signed on Wednesday.

Mayor Michael Nutter signed the city's marijuana decriminalization bill into law, making the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana punishable by a $25 fine, reports The Huffington Post. Dealing or buying marijuana is still a crime, regardless of weight, but those who just enjoy getting blazed in public now have less to worry about.

Let's get down to seeds and stems with this Philly decriminalization law.