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Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 08:18

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board published proposed rules for cannabis cafés. Please take a look and consider submitting written comments in support.

It’s important for the board to hear that the public wants adults to be allowed to consume cannabis at regulated establishments.

Comments are due by October 27 at 4:30 p.m., and they may be submitted by email to amco.regs@alaska.gov, or by regular mail. For more information on making submissions, please see the state’s public notice, available online here. While comments are not due until late October, we strongly encourage you to submit them early so that board members have time to review and consider submissions.

Under the current proposal, the state would allow cannabis flowers to be purchased and consumed on-site by vaporization or smoking, one gram at a time. Concentrates would not be available. Cannabis edibles and food that does not contain cannabis could also be available. A newly proposed addition to the rules would ensure cannabis café workers are not exposed to marijuana smoke while on duty.

The status quo is unworkable for the state’s tourists, and adult residents should not be relegated to private homes when alcohol consumers can choose from a variety of bars and restaurants. It is also important to ensure renters — whose leases may prohibit cannabis consumption — are not shut out of the freedoms Alaskan homeowners enjoy.

The post Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Denver Businesses Applying for Social Consumption Permits

Fri, 08/25/2017 - 10:39

In November 2016, Denver voters approved a measure that allows local businesses to apply for permits to set aside areas for marijuana consumption by their customers. Now, after months of conflict over the extremely restrictive nature of the rules, the city is accepting applications.

Advocates are still decrying the regulations, however, saying that the rules are designed to make it almost impossible for most businesses to take part. In particular, they are concerned that a requirement that applicants be at least 1,000 feet from a variety of educational, treatment, and public facilities, including city parks, eliminates most potential applicants and is unfair when compared to much less restrictive buffer zones for businesses that sell alcohol. Locals are considering a lawsuit against the city to address this issue.

The post Denver Businesses Applying for Social Consumption Permits appeared first on MPP Blog.

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UPDATE: Virginia Marijuana Decriminalization Forum Rescheduled

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 10:33

The Virginia State Crime Commission has rescheduled its meeting to present its findings on marijuana decriminalization. It’s important that advocates attend this meeting and show that Virginians support sensible marijuana policies.

What: Virginia State Crime Commission public meeting to present its findings on marijuana decriminalization

When: Monday, October 30, at 1 p.m.

Where: House Committee Room, Ground Floor, Room W011, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Maine Street, Richmond, VA

Don’t forget that the Commission is still accepting written comment on marijuana decriminalization. The specific issues it’s examining are available here. Make sure to submit your comments by Friday, August 23, at 5 p.m. You can email them to vsccinfo@vscc.virginia.gov or mail them to:

1111 East Broad Street, Ste. B036
Richmond, VA 23219

Be sure to check out our decriminalization webpage for assistance crafting your comments. Here are some of the best key points to hit:

  • Punishing marijuana possession with a fine will save the state money, help eliminate enforcement disparities, and allow police to pursue actual violent criminals.
  • Marijuana is safer than alcohol, and marijuana consumers shouldn’t be criminalized for choosing a safer substance.
  • Nearly eight in 10 Virginians support replacing marijuana criminal convictions with a fine (decriminalization), and 62% favor ending marijuana prohibition altogether.

Please spread the word to other Virginians who support humane marijuana policies.

The post UPDATE: Virginia Marijuana Decriminalization Forum Rescheduled appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Hampshire Adds Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 11:18

New Hampshire’s therapeutic cannabis law is finally expanding to include patients who suffer from chronic pain. HB 157 went into effect on Tuesday, adding “moderate to severe chronic pain” as a qualifying condition. This new law will allow many more Granite Staters to use cannabis as an alternative to prescribed opioids — a critically important reform for a state that is struggling to turn the tide against opiate addiction.

Until this week, patients could only qualify with a pain diagnosis if their pain was deemed to be “severe” and related to one of the specific medical conditions provided for in the law. As a result, it was much easier for medical providers to prescribe opioids than to certify patients for therapeutic cannabis. Patients who would like to apply now that the law has changed can access the updated application forms here.

For those who are waiting for the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that is scheduled to take effect on August 27.

The post New Hampshire Adds Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Utah Campaign Launches Signature Drive in Salt Lake City

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 12:26

The Utah Patients Coalition held a news conference on Thursday to announce the official launch of signature gathering efforts to get a medical marijuana initiative on the Nov. 2018 ballot.  Volunteers began collecting signatures in downtown Salt Lake City immediately following the event.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act received approval from Lt. Governor Spencer Cox on August 10 to begin gathering signatures after supporters held 10 public hearings across the state and met with various state departments and stakeholders. More than 113,000 valid signatures are required to qualify for the ballot.

Good 4 Utah reports:

They are due April 15, 2018, but this group wants to get all the signatures turned in before the 2018 Legislative Session starts.

“The legislature has had an opportunity for the last three or four years to make substantive policy on this and has failed to do so, so now I think it’s time for the people to decide on this issue,” said DJ Schanz, Utah Patients Coalition Campaign Director.

The initiative would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to legally and safely access medical cannabis with the recommendation of their doctor. It limits the number of dispensaries and cultivators, allows local zoning for medical cannabis facilities, prohibits using medical cannabis in public view, maintains the illegality of driving while intoxicated, and closely mirrors the legislation passed by the Utah Senate in 2016. Home cultivation and smoking medical cannabis would not be permitted.

The post Utah Campaign Launches Signature Drive in Salt Lake City appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New York Health Dept. Proposes Medical Marijuana Improvements

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 11:09
The New York Department of Health proposed additional changes to the state’s medical marijuana program today. While the official proposed regulations will not be released until August 23, the changes appear to be very positive. Once the rules are released, the public will have 30 days to comment. New forms of medicine would be allowed, including topicals and chewable lozenges, as well as “[c]ertain non-smokable forms of ground plant material,” which will hopefully be clarified in the full text of the regulations. Having whole plant cannabis available for vaporization could dramatically reduce prices for patients, and we will seek to make sure it’s permitted. Other changes would reduce burdens on medical professionals, hopefully encouraging more of them to participate. For more information and the complete list of proposed changes, you can read the Department of Health’s full announcement.

The post New York Health Dept. Proposes Medical Marijuana Improvements appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Approach Missouri Gathers More Than 50K Signatures

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 08:32

With nine months left to gather signatures, the hard-working volunteers of New Approach Missouri are well on their way with over 50,000 already collected! The total number required to qualify for the 2018 ballot is 160,199.

However, gathering enough total signatures is only one part of the process in Missouri. It is also necessary that the signatures be distributed across different congressional districts in the state. So New Approach Missouri is planning to hire a professional petitioning firm to help push the campaign over the finish line and to ensure that geographic distribution requirements are met.

In other news, the list of advocates calling for medical marijuana in Missouri has expanded to include retired NFL player Kyle Turley, who played for both the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams! Kyle is a patient and an advocate because medical marijuana has allowed him to live without pain and painkillers, as well as helping him to overcome depression. Check out his story here.

The post New Approach Missouri Gathers More Than 50K Signatures appeared first on MPP Blog.

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National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 14:40

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Monday urging that the Controlled Substances Act should be amended to remove marijuana from scheduling in order to give federally approved banks the ability to work with marijuana businesses. This would also allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without the threat of federal interference. For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.

Due to the Schedule I status of marijuana under federal law, federally insured banks risk penalties if they offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses. For that reason, many of these businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, making them a target for criminals. While limited guidance has been issued, which intended to encourage financial institutions to serve marijuana businesses, access to banking remains a problem.

The full resolution can be found here.

MPP’s Karen O’Keefe said the following statement in a press release:

“State legislators and the vast majority of voters agree that marijuana policy should be left to the states,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which tracks marijuana policy in all 50 states and lobbies in state legislatures throughout the country.

“Legitimate, taxpaying marijuana businesses should not have to face the difficulties of operating on a cash-only basis. Allowing banks to offer them financial services will be good for the industry and benefit public safety,” O’Keefe continues. “Even more so, states should not have to worry about the federal government interfering with their marijuana policy choices.”

The post National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

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South Dakota Has 90 Days to Collect Enough Signatures for 2018 Ballot

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 10:22

New Approach South Dakota has 90 days to collect the remaining signatures needed to place marijuana initiative measures on the 2018 ballot.

Two petitions are being circulated — one seeks to legalize marijuana for medical uses and the other to legalize certain amounts of marijuana for adult use and to regulate and tax marijuana businesses.

Signatures are tied to the number of votes cast in the state’s most recent gubernatorial election, so each petition needs at least 13,871 signatures by November 2017 to make it on the November 2018 ballot.

To read the petitions and for more information about adding your signature, check out New Approach South Dakota’s website.

The post South Dakota Has 90 Days to Collect Enough Signatures for 2018 Ballot appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Burning Man and Marijuana Laws

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 10:15

Heading to Burning Man? Here’s what you need to know about Black Rock City’s and Nevada’s marijuana laws.

If you are heading to Burning Man this year, you may be thinking about bringing cannabis to the playa, now that Nevada finally legalized marijuana. Not so fast! Before you head out, there are some important things you need to know:

  • Burning man is held on FEDERAL land, and the Bureau of Land Management will enforce federal law, which unfortunately considers all marijuana possession a criminal offense — even if you have a medial card! BLM may also ticket you for violations of various rules in the “closure order,” though these, thankfully, are civil rather than criminal.
  • “Gifting” marijuana to others is drug trafficking under federal law, even though no money is being exchanged. And if you are caught selling marijuana, or are found in possession of more than 1 oz., you will likely be prosecuted under Nevada law by the local Pershing County Sheriffs, who also patrol Burning Man.
  • Especially important: GATE ROAD is also federal property, and in the past, a lot of the law enforcement activity has occurred while people are driving into the event. Keep in mind that you have fewer rights while driving than you do in your home (or in this case, your tent or RV), and can be stopped for a broken taillight or any other minor infraction by law enforcement, who may ask you for consent to search your vehicle (you have the right to refuse). Any marijuana consumption while on the Gate Road could result in a ticket or charges for DUI or marijuana possession.
  • Before or after Burning Man, when you are not on federal land: Adults ages 21 and older may legally purchase marijuana from retail establishments in Nevada! MPP supported the initiative that made Nevada the fifth of eight states to end prohibition.
  • Public consumption could result in a misdemeanor charge, with a fine of up to $600. And because the casinos’ regulators directed them to follow federal law, you cannot consume in hotel-casinos. MPP and our allies hope to establish safe, legal consumption spaces for tourists, but that won’t happen before Burning Man 2017. But you can consume in private homes, which may include private homes for rent.
  • You should also know that Nevada has very strict laws on driving under the influence of marijuana. There is a “per se” threshold of 2 ng/mL of THC in your blood, meaning that you can be convicted based on a positive test result whether you were impaired or not. If you are a regular marijuana consumer, please note that you can have this amount in your system even if you haven’t consumed in a couple of days.
  • If you do have an encounter with law enforcement, it’s always a good idea to know your rights. In addition, Burning Man would like to know about your experience, and if you get into trouble, you can reach out to the volunteer group Lawyers for Burners for help after you return home.

This legal information is provided as a courtesy and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, which is an interpretation of the applicable law to your specific circumstances, we encourage you to consult an attorney. MPP is offering this information as a public service and is in no way affiliated with the Burning Man Project.

The post Burning Man and Marijuana Laws appeared first on MPP Blog.

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DOJ Task Force Recommends No Change in Federal Marijuana Policy

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 10:49

A Dept. of Justice task force subcommittee on marijuana policy is not recommending any policy changes that would target state-legal marijuana programs or businesses operating in compliance with state laws, according to a report by the Associated Press. The task force asked for continued study and dialogue on the issue. The recommendations are meant to inform ongoing policy decisions and are non-binding.

Since August 2013, Dept. of Justice policy has been not to enforce federal marijuana laws against individuals or businesses in states that are complying with state medical or adult-use marijuana laws, provided that one of eight federal priorities is not implicated.

You can find out more about federal policy here.

The post DOJ Task Force Recommends No Change in Federal Marijuana Policy appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Virginia Crime Commission Taking Public Comments on Marijuana Policy

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 14:10

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly empowered the state’s Crime Commission to consider whether Virginia should decriminalize marijuana possession. Now, the commission wants to hear from residents.

Between now and Friday, August 25 at 5 p.m., Virginia residents can send written comments to vsccinfo@vscc.virginia.gov or mail them to:

1111 East Broad Street, Ste. B036
Richmond, VA 23219

Then, on October 5 at 10:00 a.m., the Crime Commission will hold a meeting open to the public where you will have the opportunity to make your voice heard in person. The meeting will take place in Richmond, but the exact location will not be announced until the fall.

Nearly eight in 10 Virginians support replacing marijuana criminal convictions with a fine (decriminalization), and 62% favor ending cannabis prohibition altogether.

The post Virginia Crime Commission Taking Public Comments on Marijuana Policy appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Jersey Medical Marijuana Expansion Moving Forward

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 13:49

The New Jersey Medical Marijuana Review Panel has issued initial recommendations to add several new qualifying conditions to the state’s medical marijuana program: chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders or of visceral origin, migraine, anxiety, and Tourette’s Syndrome. There will now be a 60-day public comment period, after which the Panel will consider the comments and hold another meeting before making its final recommendations.

If you are a New Jersey resident suffering from one of these conditions who could benefit from access to medical cannabis, we encourage you to submit public comments via email or mail. Mailed comments must be postmarked by Monday, September 25, 2017, and sent to:

NJ Department of Health, Medicinal Marijuana Program
Attn: Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel
PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

In other good news, the sixth Alternative Treatment Center permitted under New Jersey law has finally been issued a permit to begin cultivating medical cannabis! It will be located in Secaucus.

The post New Jersey Medical Marijuana Expansion Moving Forward appeared first on MPP Blog.

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‘Cards Against Humanity’ Helping End Prohibition in Illinois

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 11:02

MPP is teaming up with Cards Against Humanity, the makers of the popular party card game of the same name, to end marijuana prohibition in Illinois.

In a press release today, the Chicago-based company announced that it would generously donate the proceeds of a new 30-card expansion pack based on marijuana to help promote our legislative efforts in the upcoming session.

Earlier this year, Illinois Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy introduced bills that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. We expect similar bills to be introduced next year. If you are an Illinois resident and want to get involved, please contact Coalition for a Safer Illinois.

You can pick up the ‘Weed Pack’ here and enhance your Cards Against Humanity experience while you help us regulate marijuana for adults in the Land of Lincoln!

The post ‘Cards Against Humanity’ Helping End Prohibition in Illinois appeared first on MPP Blog.

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PTSD Patients Can Now Access Medical Marijuana in Minnesota

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:15

Last year, MPP helped local advocates at Sensible Minnesota with their successful petition to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the state’s medical cannabis program. Patients suffering from this condition were able to enroll in the program last month, and starting August 1 they will be allowed to access medical cannabis.

Every year, the Minnesota Office of Medical Cannabis accepts petitions to add new conditions, and this year was no exception. This year’s petitions were due this week, and MPP and Sensible Minnesota again submitted paperwork — including for nausea, Alzheimer’s, and autism. Thanks to everyone who shared their story with us to help build the case. Before deciding whether to add the condition, a review panel will hold a public hearing.

While Minnesota has a comprehensive medical marijuana program, it remains one of the most limited — and costly — in the country. One of the most significant remaining flaws is that patients are not permitted to consume whole plant (flower) cannabis.

The post PTSD Patients Can Now Access Medical Marijuana in Minnesota appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Sen. Cory Booker Introduces Comprehensive De-Scheduling Bill

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 12:24

On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who has been a leader in federal marijuana policy reform efforts, introduced one of the most comprehensive bills to date to end federal prohibition and work to alleviate some of the harms caused by bad state marijuana laws and racially disparate enforcement.

Politico reports:

The bill would remove the federal prohibition on marijuana and withhold federal money for building jails and prisons, along with other funds, from states whose cannabis laws are shown to disproportionately incarcerate minorities.

Under the legislation, federal convictions for marijuana use and possession would be expunged and prisoners serving time for a marijuana offense would be entitled to a sentencing hearing.

Those “aggrieved” by a disproportionate arrest or imprisonment rate would be able to sue, according to the bill. And a Community Reinvestment Fund would be established to “reinvest in communities most affected by the war on drugs” for everything from re-entry programs to public libraries.

Please take a moment to call Sen. Booker’s office at (202) 224-3224 and thank him for helping undo the damage done by the government’s war on marijuana.

The post Sen. Cory Booker Introduces Comprehensive De-Scheduling Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Utah Patients Coalition Launches Public Hearings

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:36

As required by state election law, Utah Patients Coalition (UPC) is holding eight hearings throughout the state of Utah to collect public comment on the proposed citizens’ initiative petition, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. On Wednesday, UPC held the first set of these public meetings in Salt Lake City, Lehi, and St. George.

Sharing powerful personal stories about how medical cannabis has significantly improved their quality of life, several patients made their case to a roomful of interested voters and took questions. Read more about the public forum that took place in Salt Lake City here. A complete list of these public hearings can be found here.

 

The post Utah Patients Coalition Launches Public Hearings appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Massachusetts Governor Signs Marijuana Compromise Bill

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 10:29

On Friday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the compromise bill that makes changes to Question 4. While the tax rate has increased and local control has been amended slightly, the bill largely keeps the legalization law intact.

This marks the end of our legislative battle to defend Question 4. As you know, the Massachusetts House originally proposed a very problematic bill that would have repealed and replaced the law, thereby raising the tax rate far too high and eliminating entirely the right of voters to approve or reject local bans.

With your help, we sent a strong message to the Legislature to respect the will of the people and to only make minor changes. We generated over 1,000 calls to state representatives and state senators. To everyone who called, emailed, or otherwise contacted their elected officials: thank you! Your advocacy had a real impact.

The final outcome is a major improvement on the House proposal. The tax rate will only increase to 20%, and by January 2020, all local bans will require approval — until then, local governments in towns that voted “no” in 2016 can establish bans without voter approval.

It is now time for the state government to begin the work of implementing the law and establishing a regulatory system for marijuana in Massachusetts. That means providing proper funding and crafting specific regulations without delay.

We will continue to keep you updated, because we may need your help again to defend Massachusetts’ legalization law.

The post Massachusetts Governor Signs Marijuana Compromise Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Alaska Gets Initial Approval for On-Site Consumption at Marijuana Retailers

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 10:58

The regulatory body in charge of marijuana policy in Alaska has just taken steps to become the first state to allow on-site consumption at retail marijuana stores.

Alaska Dispatch News reports:

At the Alaska Marijuana Control Board’s meeting held Wednesday through Friday this week in Fairbanks, board members approved 3-2 a proposal to set up rules for on-site marijuana consumption at retail stores.

The proposal includes a draft of specific rules for everything from ventilation and location of these consumption areas to how much marijuana can be used there, and much more. Citizens will have 60 days to comment on the proposal before the draft rules come back to the board, likely at the November meeting.

In November 2015, the board voted to allow on-site consumption at marijuana stores. Alaska Dispatch News reported at the time that the amendment passed to allow such consumption would function “as a placeholder,” pending more specific rules. In February, Alaska Dispatch News reported the board abandoned a regulatory project that had been in the works since May 2016. But then, in March, the body decided it would take another stab at it.

The post Alaska Gets Initial Approval for On-Site Consumption at Marijuana Retailers appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Votes to Renew Protections for Medical Marijuana

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 10:43

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) approved an amendment in a voice vote that would continue to protect state medical marijuana programs from federal interference.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), would add a clause to the CJS budget for Fiscal Year 2018 that prevents the Dept. of Justice from using resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers that are in compliance with state law. A similar amendment was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

In 2014, Congress added a similar amendment to an omnibus spending bill that prevented the Dept. of Justice from spending any resources to target state-legal medical marijuana businesses. This amendment was subsequently renewed, but now stands to expire.

If the CJS budget is approved in the Senate, the amendment will go to a special conference committee to reach a compromise with the House. If no budget is approved by September 30, the previous amendment will be automatically renewed for another year.

MPP’s Don Murphy made the following statement:

“More than half the states have taken a stand and said they want their seriously ill residents to have safe and reliable access to medical marijuana, and today the Senate Appropriations Committee listened. What was expected to be a very successful vote passed on an overwhelming voice vote, while opposition to the Leahy amendment was literally a whimper. That sound we heard in the Senate was the sound of a waving white flag as the federal war on medical marijuana patients and providers winds down.”

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