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Updated: 10 hours 33 min ago

Canada legalizes marijuana!

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 07:47

Marijuana prohibition is history in Canada. Last night, after months of negotiations, Parliament approved a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults. After one formality — Royal Assent — Canada will become the second nation to end marijuana prohibition and the first G7 country to do so.

Regulations vary by province, but most set age limits at 18 or 19 to match the legal age for alcohol and tobacco in Canada. Once the law takes effect, adults can possess up to 30 grams and grow up to four plants in their homes. Read more about this historic legislation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is expected to move quickly to implement the new policy, and retail marijuana stores will soon be opening just north of our border.

And that is all the more reason for our Congress to enact the STATES Act, which would allow American states to decide their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

This is an important day to acknowledge. After decades of harm caused by marijuana prohibition laws, nations around the world are beginning to come to their senses. Canadians should be proud that their country is leading the way among major governments.

Let’s not fall too far behind — call your members of Congress today. And please consider donating to MPP to support our efforts.

The post Canada legalizes marijuana! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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NY Health Dept. will expand medical program; looks favorably toward adult use

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 07:32

The Health Commissioner of New York, Howard Zucker, recently announced that a long-awaited study by the Cuomo administration will recommend the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adult use. The study is believed to be at least partly in response to gubernatorial primary candidate Cynthia Nixon’s strong support of marijuana legalization.

Mr. Zucker also announced that the Health Department will issue regulations to allow patients who have been prescribed opioids to qualify for the state’s medical marijuana program. Not all patients can qualify under the existing chronic pain provision, since opioids may also be prescribed for severe but short-term pain, such as after surgery. The New York Senate also passed a bill to do the same, as well as to allow patients with opioid use disorder to qualify.

While the state’s legislative session is ending soon, New York is moving closer to ending marijuana prohibition!

In other news, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio, under increasing pressure to address the racial disparity in low-level marijuana arrests, announced a new policy designed to reduce arrests and give more tickets instead. Unfortunately, the policy, which will take effect September 1, has so many exceptions its impact may be limited.

The post NY Health Dept. will expand medical program; looks favorably toward adult use appeared first on MPP Blog.

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California: Donated medical cannabis shouldn’t be taxed

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 18:03

A bill that could restore the ability to provide free, untaxed cannabis to low- or no-income patients is now being considered in the California State Assembly. SB 829 would allow taxes to be waived for medical cannabis that is donated, free of charge, for medical cannabis patients. This is a welcome improvement for patients with limited means.

It is no surprise that seriously ill patients can be faced with little or no income. Combine that with the fact that medical insurance providers don’t cover medical cannabis, and it can create a serious financial burden on medical marijuana patients. Today in California, even cannabis that is donated free of charge must be taxed an excise tax. This is unfair to those in need. SB 829 aims to provide relief. For a look at the latest bill text, click here.

Under the bill, both cultivators and retail dispensaries would be excused from the tax burden on cannabis that is donated to those who qualify. It’s a simple change but an important one.

If you are a California resident and agree patients need additional relief, please take a moment to ask your Assemblymembers to vote yes on SB 829 when it is before them for a vote. It’s a common-sense step for some of California’s most vulnerable residents.

The post California: Donated medical cannabis shouldn’t be taxed appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Help Oklahoma become the next state to legalize medical marijuana

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 12:49

Later in June, Oklahomans will head to the polls and decide whether patients with serious health conditions should be allowed to safely access medical marijuana. If you know anyone living in Oklahoma who supports sensible marijuana policies, make sure they go vote on June 26.

The grassroots group backing the initiative, Yes on 788, is doing an excellent job with a limited budget, and polls look encouraging. Roughly 60% of Oklahomans say they favor the initiative. But opponents are misleading voters about what the initiative would do, and this could be a close one.

If you’re able to make a contribution to help Oklahoma patients access medical marijuana, please do so.

Tens of thousands of patients in Oklahoma would see their lives and well-being improve if voters pass State Question 788. No family should have to watch a loved one suffer from a debilitating medical condition while a safe and effective treatment is available.

There’s a lot at stake. Let’s cheer on Oklahoma and support their effort to provide compassion and relief to patients who need it.

The post Help Oklahoma become the next state to legalize medical marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Call your members of Congress about the STATES Act

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 10:14

In case you missed it, last week Sens. Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren introduced bipartisan legislation to end the federal war on marijuana and protect states that establish their own marijuana laws. There’s huge momentum behind this important bill.

Give your senators and representative in Congress a call right now and urge them to back the STATES Act.

Leaving marijuana policy to the states is a popular position among both Republicans and Democrats. But we have to put pressure on Congress to act.

Share this with other supporters of sensible marijuana policy and ask them to call their members of Congress, too.

Passage of the STATES Act would be a game changer. Let’s light up those phone lines.

The post Call your members of Congress about the STATES Act appeared first on MPP Blog.

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South Carolina: 82% of Dems vote to support medical marijuana patients

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 06:32

Voters using the Democratic ballot for yesterday’s South Carolina’s primary voted in support of medical marijuana by a whopping vote of 82-18%. This is an incredibly strong showing, and clearly voters are ready for this change. No doubt lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are taking notice.

Several candidates who support medical marijuana also did well. Congressional GOP candidate Katie Arrington, who supported this year’s medical cannabis bill as a House member, won her party’s primary with 51% of the vote, defeating incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford. Meanwhile, Democrat James Smith, a strong advocate for patients while serving in the House, won the primary contest for Democratic gubernatorial candidate with 62% of the vote.

In the state House races, supportive Republican lawmaker Rep. Jonathan Hill prevailed over his challenger. And challenger and supporter William Bailey won his contest against incumbent Rep. Greg Duckworth. On the Democrat side of the aisle, incumbent Reps. Leon Howard, Jerry Govan, Jr., and Cezar McKnight each prevailed against challengers.

Medical cannabis did well yesterday, as did many candidates who are supportive of change. For comprehensive election results, click here.

If you are a South Carolina resident, be sure to ask your lawmakers in the House and Senate to support medical cannabis in South Carolina!

The post South Carolina: 82% of Dems vote to support medical marijuana patients appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Delaware marijuana bills on the move

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 06:28

In the past 24 hours, there have been two significant advances toward modernizing Delaware’s marijuana laws. Yesterday, Rep. Helene Keeley put forth amendments to her marijuana legalization and regulation bill, HB 110, which address concerns and reduce the number of votes needed for passage. Then, this morning, the Senate unanimously approved a limited but important marijuana expungement bill!

Let them know it’s past time to end Delaware’s failed experiment with marijuana prohibition. Our software makes the process quick and easy. Just type in your contact info and your lawmakers’ names and phone numbers will appear — one at a time — along with some suggested talking points.

If you are a Delaware resident, call your lawmakers today, and urge them to support HB 110.

With the legislative session ending on June 30, there’s no time to waste. So, make a couple of calls to help make history! Then, spread the word on social media or by email, to ask other thoughtful Delawareans to speak out for sensible marijuana policies.

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Arkansas Supreme Court hears arguments over the rollout of state medical marijuana program

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 17:59

In March, an unsuccessful applicant sued the state, claiming that the Medical Marijuana Commission’s scoring process was flawed and that two of the commission’s members had conflicts of interest. The judge sided with the unsuccessful applicant, and the state’s rollout of the medical marijuana program was put on pause.

Yesterday, the Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a dispute over Arkansas’ medical marijuana program. The program has been stalled since lawsuits were filed over how licenses were awarded. We learned that one commissioner was even offered a bribe from a company seeking a cultivation license.

No matter who wins this case, it’s Arkansas patients who are losing out. We hope that these legal matters will be concluded in a timely matter so that patients may have access to the medicine they need.

In other disappointing news, the Little Rock Board of Directors voted down a proposal last Tuesday to make marijuana possession the lowest enforcement priority for law enforcement.

The post Arkansas Supreme Court hears arguments over the rollout of state medical marijuana program appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Canada’s Parliament Votes to End Marijuana Prohibition

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 08:26

Canada moved another step closer to ending its prohibition of marijuana on Thursday when the Senate approved legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Bill C-45 will now head back to the House of Commons, which has already approved a previous version.

Once approved in the House, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is expected to move quickly to implement the legislation, with legal adult sales beginning as soon as August. Canada will be just the second country — and the first G7 nation — to legalize marijuana for adults at the national level. The first was Uruguay, where legislation was signed into law in December 2013 and a limited number of pharmacies began selling marijuana to adults in July 2017.

“Canada is demonstrating extraordinary leadership on marijuana policy,” said Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It is setting an example not only for the U.S., where reform is already progressing at the federal level, but for countries around the world where there has been little to no debate on the subject.”

The Canadian legislation creates an overarching national regulatory framework and enables each province to establish its own system of licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. Adults will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, and all products will be sold in plain packaging with clearly marked labels. Home cultivation is allowed at the federal level, but it can be banned at the provincial level.

“This legislation will allow adults in Canada to start purchasing marijuana safely and legally from licensed businesses rather than tracking it down through illegal and potentially dangerous channels,” Tvert said. “Products will be tested, packaged, and labeled to ensure they are not contaminated and that consumers know what they’re getting. This newly regulated market will also create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue.”

Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, and eight of those laws include systems for regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

“Marijuana prohibition is a failed U.S. policy experiment that was replicated by countries around the world,” Tvert said. “It has caused far more problems than it has solved, and governments would be wise to follow Canada’s example by revisiting their marijuana policies and exploring alternatives.”

The post Canada’s Parliament Votes to End Marijuana Prohibition appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Senators introduce bipartisan bill to protect state marijuana laws

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 08:22

Earlier today, Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced bipartisan legislation to end the federal government’s war on marijuana and protect states’ rights to enact their own marijuana policies.

Call your members of Congress RIGHT NOW and urge them to support this landmark bill.

The STATES Act is the most significant piece of marijuana-related legislation ever introduced in Congress. With its bipartisan backing in the Senate, it symbolically signals the eventual end of marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

This legislation reflects the position the president took on marijuana policy during his campaign, and it comes shortly on the heels of the positive comments he made to Sen. Gardner. The president has a unique opportunity to get behind historic legislation that enjoys solid support on both sides of the political spectrum. Read more about the bill.

Members of both parties agree it’s time for the federal government to let states set their own policies for marijuana. Please ask your lawmakers to back this important legislation.

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It’s on: Michigan’s adult-use legalization initiative advances to the ballot

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 11:16

After lawmakers opted not to take legislative action, the initiative to regulate marijuana officially moved to the November ballot. Michigan is poised to become the 10th state to legalize marijuana for adult use.

According to recent polls, six out of 10 voters in Michigan support the proposal to end marijuana prohibition. But these campaigns are never easy, and opponents are expected to put up a tough fight.

Michigan represents an opportunity to continue the national momentum we have built in recent years. Another huge victory in 2018 will position us to make even bigger gains in 2019 and 2020. Also, Michigan would become the second most populous state in the country with legal marijuana and the first outside the Northeast and the West.

There’s a lot at stake in Michigan, because keeping up the pressure at the state level is the key to ending federal prohibition. We can’t allow prohibitionists and fear tactics to slow us down.

At this critical time, please make a contribution to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and be part of this historic movement.

The post It’s on: Michigan’s adult-use legalization initiative advances to the ballot appeared first on MPP Blog.

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S.C.: Next Tuesday is Primary Election Day

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 11:18

Review our South Carolina Voter Guide before casting your ballot.

South Carolina’s Primary Election Day is next Tuesday, June 12, and voters’ choices could have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in the state. Lawmakers will again consider legislation next year that would establish a compassionate medical cannabis program. South Carolinians should take a close look at whether candidates will stand up for patients.

We’ve done some of the work for you. We sent out a short questionnaire for candidates running for seats in the South Carolina House of Representatives and the governor’s office, and we’ve posted their responses here. Our voter guide also includes public comments from the gubernatorial candidates. For incumbent representatives, it also includes committee votes on medical cannabis (where applicable) and if they co-sponsored the bill.

The deadline to register to vote in the primary passed on May 13. For those who are registered, you can find more about Primary Day here, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open.

If you are a resident of South Carolina, please forward this message to your networks so your family and friends can also make informed decisions, and be sure to vote! Let’s spread the word that South Carolina can join the dozens of states that have already adopted sensible, comprehensive, and compassionate medical cannabis programs.

The post S.C.: Next Tuesday is Primary Election Day appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Want to know where Maryland candidates stand on cannabis legalization?

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 09:58

While we are disappointed that the General Assembly did not allow Marylanders to vote on cannabis legalization this fall, Marylanders will be able to vote on them — all members of the legislature are up for election this year. We want to make sure that voters are informed about the candidates’ views on cannabis policy, so we published this voter guide.

If your candidate of choice hasn’t responded to our survey, please ask them to do so! Their contact information will be listed in the guide, and late responses will also be published. Remember, you can only vote in the primary of the party you belong to (you can check your registration here). If you are a Democrat, please check out the Marijuana Policy Project’s Voter Guide for the Gubernatorial Primary as well.

If you’re a Maryland resident, learn more about the candidates’ positions, and share this message with your friends and family in Maryland.

The post Want to know where Maryland candidates stand on cannabis legalization? appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Louisiana governor signs medical marijuana bills into law

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 09:41

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed HB 579 and HB 627, which expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana! These two bills add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Congratulations to Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana and all the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

The post Louisiana governor signs medical marijuana bills into law appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Illinois lawmakers pass major improvement to medical cannabis program, now on to the governor

Fri, 06/01/2018 - 08:55

The Illinois General Assembly passed the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program Act yesterday during a whirlwind last day of its regular legislative session. If signed into law, SB 336 would allow those who could be prescribed opioid drugs to qualify for the medical cannabis program. It also dramatically improves current law by streamlining wait times and removing fingerprint requirements for patients.

This bill would provide welcome relief to thousands who need a safer alternative to harmful opioid drugs. For a summary written by bill supporters — including key changes to background checks and shortened approval process — click here. The final bill draft language is here.

A huge shout-out goes to the medical cannabis community, the warriors who worked so hard to make it happen, and primary bill sponsors, Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and co-sponsors for their leadership and support. Thousands of lives could improve as a result.

But without the governor’s signature, it won’t become a reality. Gov. Rauner has 60 days from the day he receives it to sign or veto the measure, and he needs to hear from you. If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to voice your support for the measure with the governor’s office.

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California: Key bill could automatically clear marijuana convictions

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 13:23

In the coming days, lawmakers are expected to vote on providing relief for Californians saddled with harmful cannabis-related criminal histories. Under Assembly Bill 1793, any adult who was convicted of a marijuana offense that is no longer illegal would have their conviction erased automatically. This is a huge step forward to repairing decades of harmful policy.

Marijuana prohibition has harmed hundreds of thousands of individuals who now have cannabis convictions. This can limit career, educational, and housing opportunities. Since voters approved Prop. 64 in 2016, Californians have been able to petition to expunge (remove) these prior convictions, but the process can be costly and burdensome. And many don’t realize it’s an option.

AB 1793 would make the process automatic. It would direct the state Department of Justice to review the state’s criminal database and identify convictions that could be dismissed, downgraded, or simply expunged, and take the steps needed to make those changes.

If you are a California resident, contact your Assemblymember and voice your support for AB 1793.

To learn about the status of other cannabis reform bills in California, check out this East Bay Express article.

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Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition Releases General Assembly Voter Guide, Grades Candidates’ Marijuana Policy Positions Ahead of June Primary

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 07:40

The Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition released a General Assembly voter guide that documents and grades candidates’ positions on cannabis policy. The release comes exactly two weeks before early voting begins in the 2018 primary election (June 14).

The web-based voter guide can be found at MarylandCannabisPolicy.org. In March, the Marijuana Policy Project released a separate guide to the Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates.

The General Assembly voter guide is based on a questionnaire that was sent to the 550 official House and Senate candidates contending in the June 26 primary. Candidates were asked for their positions on regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use and home cultivation, as well as for comments on the controversial implementation of the state’s medical cannabis program. The guide also notes whether candidates have previously co-sponsored bills to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults or refer the question to voters. Legislation that would have allowed voters to decide was debated in the General Assembly this year, but it did not receive a vote.

“Marylanders do not get to vote on legalization this year, but they do get to weigh in on the legislators who declined to put it on the ballot,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This is their chance to send a message to current and future lawmakers that legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis for adult use should be a priority for lawmakers next year. Most people recognize cannabis prohibition has been a costly failure and they want to know where their candidates stand.”

Sixty-four percent of likely Maryland voters support making cannabis legal for adults, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in September 2016.

Advocates also expressed concern at the large number of candidates who have not responded to the questionnaire, which was sent out over a month ago. More than three out of four candidates have not responded yet, including more than 125 incumbents.

“Maryland’s cannabis policy affects everyone in the state, and it is receiving a significant amount of debate in the General Assembly,” Bell said. “Many voters care deeply about this issue, and they deserve to know where the candidates stand on it. It is disappointing to see so many candidates are still not on the record on cannabis policy, and we are encouraging voters in their districts to contact them directly to get them on the record.”

The post Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition Releases General Assembly Voter Guide, Grades Candidates’ Marijuana Policy Positions Ahead of June Primary appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Arkansas: Little Rock considers making marijuana possession a low priority

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 07:19

A Little Rock city director has proposed formally making misdemeanor marijuana offenses a “low priority” for city law enforcement officials. As Ward 2 City Director Ken Richardson highlighted, simple misdemeanor marijuana offenses can haunt an individual for life, making it harder to secure employment and higher education.

If you live in Little Rock, please contact your directors and ask that they support this commonsense reform. If you are unsure of your ward’s city director, please go here to find out which ward you live in. In addition to your ward director, be sure to also email the three at-large directors that represent the entire city. This proposal is a great step in the right direction and will help shape policies at the state level in Arkansas.

Unfortunately, Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner had issues with the wording of the proposal and claimed the police department already views misdemeanor marijuana offenses as a low priority. If this is true, City Director Richardson explains there is no harm in simply putting this policy in writing.

If you’re a Little Rock resident, please take a few minutes to make sure the city directors know their constituents want Little Rock to make marijuana offenses a low enforcement priority. Then, please spread the word to others in Little Rock!

The post Arkansas: Little Rock considers making marijuana possession a low priority appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Utah’s medical cannabis initiative is officially on the ballot

Wed, 05/30/2018 - 14:35

Great news! Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox officially announced yesterday afternoon that the medical cannabis ballot initiative has qualified for the November ballot. Legal medical cannabis just got one step closer to becoming a reality in Utah.

Our opponents’ attempts to stop our initiative from reaching the ballot have failed. Now the real campaign begins, and anti-cannabis crusaders are ramping up their efforts. Their strategy will be to buy TV ads and flood the airwaves with misinformation about the initiative.

The campaign needs your help to push back against the big donors who want to defeat this initiative. Please make a contribution to help fight back.

Walter J. Plumb III, owner of a pharmaceutical company, just dumped over $100,000 into our opponents’ account. Plumb has a long history of promoting falsehoods about cannabis in Utah, and that’s exactly what the opposition campaigns plan to do with his money.

This is a critical time, and we need all of our supporters to pitch in. The more the campaign can raise now, the less likely it is that our opponents will continue fighting, because they’ll realize they can’t win. Please consider making a donation to send a strong message that you won’t stand by while the opposition attempts to deprive Utah patients of legal and safe access to medical cannabis.

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Victory: Florida judge rules that ban on smokable marijuana is unconstitutional

Tue, 05/29/2018 - 14:14

On May 25, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that patients “have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating medical conditions as recommended by their certified physicians.”

This is a big win for patient rights in Florida. After voters overwhelmingly approved the medical marijuana constitutional amendment in 2016, the Florida Legislature passed a law to prevent patients from using smokable marijuana. As you may know, for some patients, smoking marijuana is more effective than vaping or using edibles.

People United for Medical Marijuana and Florida for Care, joined by patients Cathy Jordan, who has ALS, and Diana Dodsen, who has AIDS, challenged the legislature’s attempt to restrict patients’ options. Judge Gievers ruled that patients have the right to use medical marijuana in private under the constitution.

Unfortunately, soon after Judge Gievers’ ruling, the Florida Department of Health appealed the decision, resulting in an automatic stay and preventing the decision from going into effect immediately. We are hopeful that the court decision will remain in effect and that patients will soon have the right to use medical marijuana in whatever way that works best for them.

The post Victory: Florida judge rules that ban on smokable marijuana is unconstitutional appeared first on MPP Blog.

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