Marijuana Policy Project

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Illinois: First Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Open

IllinoisDispensariesOpen[Leafly]

Illinois’ first medical marijuana dispensaries have opened across the state, with five opening on Monday, including locations in Addison, Canton, Marion, Mundelein, and Quincy.

So far, a total of eight shops are approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health with seven more dispensaries expected to open later this month, bringing the total number of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Illinois to 15. In order to be protected under state law, Illinois patients must obtain their medical marijuana from one of these licensed dispensaries.

“This is a great day for suffering patients who have been waiting to have access to this medicine,” said Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We are grateful they will no longer have to put themselves at risk by purchasing it in an underground market.” Under the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP), patients must register and select one designated dispensary as their source of medicine. According to the Department of Public Health, 3,300 patients have registered for the medical cannabis identification cards.

“The dispensary openings mark the most significant milestone since the pilot program began nearly two and half years ago,” said Lindsey. “A limited number of patients with certain conditions will now be able to legally access medical marijuana. We hope the state can see that a program like this works and we can finally relieve the suffering of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens.”

Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Panel Recommends Against Adding Intractable Pain As Qualifying Condition

PainRelieverMarijuana[ismoke.com]

Majority of panel opposes adding intractable pain; recommendations include a variety of additional criteria be met in order for intractable pain patients to have access to medical marijuana, if commissioner decides to add

The Minnesota Office of Medical Cannabis Intractable Pain Advisory Committee late on Wednesday posted its recommendations on the question of whether intractable pain should be a medical cannabis qualifying condition. A majority of the panel opposed adding intractable pain, despite marijuana’s relative safety when compared to commonly prescribed pain medications.

The panel also listed a variety of conditions that it suggests be met if the Commissioner of Health were to ultimately decide to add intractable pain to the program.

The recommendations — which include a 21 and older age restriction and a requirement that “traditional” methods of treatment be exhausted — will now be considered by Minnesota Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger. If he decides to add intractable pain, with or without added criteria, he must notify the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative health and public safety policy committees.

Intractable pain would become a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, effective August 1, 2016, unless the legislature passes a law stating otherwise.

U.S.: What Happened When States Legalized Marijuana

SafeDriver[WestCoastLeaf]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When the sale of marijuana for recreational use became legal in Colorado and Washington last year -- and in Oregon this year -- a few predictions, both good and bad, were made about the outcome. Here's what has actually happened so far.

Positives

• No increase in teen use: Opponents of legalization claimed young people would flock to weed if the legal penalties were removed. That hasn't happened, reports Daniel Dale at The Star. Major studies have found no increase in teen use in states the legalized medical marijuana; in Colorado, fewer students said they used pot after legalization than before.

• Tax windfall: Colorado has taken in more than $86 million in cannabis taxes and fees this year, far more than for alcohol. Washington state is predicting $1 billion in marijuana taxes over the next four years. "All that money that was going to criminals and the hands of cartels is now being sent toward legitimate taxpaying businesses," said Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project.

Arizona: SW Cannabis Conference Responds To County Attorney's Warnings

BillMontgomeryMaricopaCountyAttorney[TheArizonaRepublic]

“The show will go on,” says organizer Demitri Downing of the event that is expected to thousands of professionals from across the country

“Welcome to Phoenix, enjoy your stay, but be careful,” was one of several warnings issued by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery to the thousands of individuals who are expected to attend the inaugural Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo taking place October 26–28, at the Phoenix Convention Center.

“Just a polite warning to folks traveling here that recreational marijuana is not legal here in Arizona,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Wednesday, reports Derek Staahl of KPHO “Folks who are traveling from out of state and may be engaged in business transactions at the Phoenix Convention Center, you could be violating state and federal laws when it comes to trafficking in marijuana."

“The show will go on,” responded event organizer Demitri Downing of the Southwest Event Group of the business event where professionals and entrepreneurs from across the country are expected to converge to discuss the business of cannabis.

“This is not a smoke fest as Bill Montgomery likes to characterize it," Downing said. "This is about the industry. This is about economic development. This is about jobs and healthcare. This is about Arizona.

U.S.: Sanders Becomes 1st Major Party Presidential Candidate To Support Marijuana Legalization

BernieSandersMarijuanaItIsAnObscenity[CannabisAdvocatesForBernie]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Candidate Bernie Sanders, for the first time in this campaign, on Tuesday night indicated at the Democratic presidential debate that he supports marijuana legalization.

When asked how he would vote on an initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol that is set to appear on the Nevada ballot in 2016, Senator Sanders said he would likely vote "Yes."

Hillary Clinton was asked if she has taken a position on such proposals, now that it has been a year since she said she wanted to wait to see what happens in Colorado and Washington. She said she was undecided on the issue, but that we should stop imprisoning people for pot use. She also said she supports medical marijuana.

The other three candidates in the debate, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb, were not given the opportunity to answer questions regarding marijuana policy.

"This is the first time we've seen a major candidate for president say he'd probably vote for legalizing marijuana if given the chance," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "That says a lot about how far the politics on this issue have shifted in a very short amount of time.

U.S.: New TV/Internet PSA Unveiled; Designed To Highlight Hypocrisy Of Marijuana Laws

EndProhibitionNow[HOBO]

HOBO Unveils Latest Effort In Continuing PSA Campaign To End Prohibition Of Marijuana

Creative Audio/Content Production House Releases “Very Presidential” -- New TV/Internet Spot Designed To Highlight Hypocrisy Of Current Marijuana Laws.

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new TV/Internet PSA spot has just been unveiled which is designed to expose the federal government’s fraudulent handling of marijuana as a Schedule I drug (considered most dangerous, equivalent in danger to heroin and more dangerous than cocaine and methampetamine, both of which are considered Schedule II).

The spot was produced HOBO – the creative audio post and content production company led by company Founder/President Howard Bowler. The PSA will be available to grassroots organizations for use on websites, social networks and during live community events.

A version of the spot "will target states such as Ohio where marijuana legalization measures are on the ballot," according to a HOBO press release, although one finds oneself wishing other states would be spotlighted, since Ohio's legalization measure is easily the worst in the nation, as it hands control of commercial growing in the state to the 10 wealthy investors who financed the campaign.

California: Governor Brown Signs Medical Cannabis Regulation Bill

JerryBrown[PhilKonstantin-MPP]

Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Will Establish State-Level Regulation in California

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed the trio of bills known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act that will establish regulation of commercial medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and transportation, as well as create a state-level licensing system in California for the first time since the medical cannabis program was enacted in 1996.

The bills establish a new agency within the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, which will oversee the system and work with other agencies that will be involved in licensing key areas of activity, such as cultivation and testing. The bureau will develop detailed rules by January 2017, and businesses will begin to apply for state licenses in January 2018, at which point the current system of collectives and cooperatives will be phased out. Medical marijuana businesses will need to obtain local approval to continue operating.

The California Legislature passed Assembly Bills 243 and 266 and Senate Bill 643 on September 11th, with overwhelming support in both the Assembly and the Senate.

“Governor Brown’s approval of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act ushers in a new era in California,’” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta, the lead sponsor of AB 266. “Patients will have more assurances that their products are safe.

California: Marijuana Legalization Supporters Split Up, Threaten Separate Initiatives

ReformCalifornia[logo]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With legalization seemingly a near-certainty coming down the pike in California, there's a lot of excitement in the air. And the smell of money has joined the aroma of cannabis, stoking the excitement to a fever pitch. But there's a fly in that medicated ointment.

Inspired by successes in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, activists are hungrily eyeing California, the biggest prize of all in the recreational legalization sweepstakes, reports Dennis Romero at the L.A. Weekly.

Legalization fell short in the Golden State in 2010 with Proposition 19, and that sad outcome could see a repeat if multiple initiatives compete against each other to qualify, and if two or more reach the ballot and face off against each other.

What was supposed to be the unifying initiative -- ReformCA, from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform -- was the intended vehicle for all the big players in California cannabis politics to support; they almost pulled it off, too.

U.S.: FBI Reports Marijuana Arrests Increased In 2014; First Increase Since 2009

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The annual number of arrests for marijuana offenses in the U.S. increased last year for the first time since 2009, according to the Uniform Crime Report released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

There were 700,993 marijuana arrests in the U.S. in 2014, according to a new report from the FBI. That's one every 45 seconds.

Marijuana arrests comprised 44.9 percent of all drug arrests, and drug crimes are the largest category of offenses people were arrested for, according to the FBI. Fully 88.4 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession alone.

In comparison, there were 693,482 marijuana arrests in the U.S. in 2013. Data on marijuana arrests for years prior to 2013 is at http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Marijuana#Total.

"It's unacceptable that police still put this many people in handcuffs for something that a growing majority of Americans think should be legal," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "A record number of states are expected to vote on legalizing marijuana next year, so we hope and expect to see these numbers significantly dropping soon.

"There’s just no good reason that so much police time and taxpayer money is spent punishing people for marijuana when so many murders, rapes and robberies go unsolved," Angell said.

U.S.: Congressmen Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Eliminate DEA Marijuana Eradication Program

DEARaidsMarijuanaGrow

Congressmen Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) on Wednesday introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would eliminate the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.

The enormously wasteful and ineffective DEA program distributes funds to state and local law enforcement agencies for the purpose of locating and destroying marijuana cultivation sites. The proposed bill would prohibit federal funds from being distributed to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for any purpose pertaining to the program or any substantially similar program.

“As multiple states legalize marijuana across our nation, it is a huge waste of federal resources for the DEA to eradicate marijuana," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California). "The federal government should focus its precious resources on other issues and let the states innovate in the cannabis field. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill along with Congressman Amash.”

“Civil asset forfeiture allows innocent people to have their property taken without sufficient due process, and this program encourages civil asset forfeiture by allowing the DEA to use the proceeds of seized property to fund marijuana prohibition enforcement," said Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan). "This is especially troubling given that the federal government should not be expending resources on marijuana prohibition—enforcement is a state-level issue, and an increasing number of states are deciding to back off from prohibition.

U.S.: 'Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers' Named By MPP

ObamaIDontThinkItsMoreDangerousThanAlcohol

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Wednesday released its annual list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers” in the United States.

The list is available below and at https://www.mpp.org/Top50.

“About one out of every two Americans has used marijuana, including a whole lot of very successful people,” said Mason Tvert, MPP’s director of communications. “There are a lot more out there that we don’t know about because it is illegal.

"Marijuana is a less harmful substance than alcohol," Tvert said. "Adults who use it responsibly should not have to choose between keeping it a secret or admitting to a crime.”

President Barack Obama is at the top of MPP’s list, followed by several 2016 presidential candidates. At least eight (and as many as 17) of the 23 major-party presidential hopefuls have said or strongly indicated that they have consumed marijuana: Jeb Bush, Lincoln Chafee, Ted Cruz, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and Rick Santorum.

Nine others do not appear to have said whether they have consumed marijuana, and they did not respond to inquiries from MPP: Joe Biden, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb.

Only six candidates have said they never used marijuana: Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.

Illinois: Governor's Amendatory Veto Sends Pot Decrim Bill Back To Assembly For Final Approval

IllinoisMarijuanaLeafCountyMap[TheJointBlog]

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday issued an amendatory veto of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amount of marijuana, sending it back to the General Assembly for final approval.

The General Assembly has 15 days from the next session date to approve the amended version of HB 218, which needs to receive a simple majority vote in the House and then the Senate to officially become law. The original version, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), was approved in the Senate (37-19) on May 21 and in the House (62-53) on April 23.

Gov. Rauner’s amended version of HB 218 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a fine of up to $200 with no possibility of jail time, and the civil offense would be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record. The original version applied to possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana and set the amount of the fine at up to $125.

Under current Illinois law, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500, and possession of more than 2.5 grams and up to 10 grams is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. More than 100 localities in Illinois have adopted measures that reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession.

U.S.: New DEA Leader Admits Marijuana 'Probably' Not As Bad As Heroin

ChuckRosenbergDEA[KamenkoPajic-UPI]

Head of the Drug Enforcement Administration Says 'I'm Not An Expert'

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's progress -- of a sort.

The new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration admitted on Tuesday that heroin "probably" is more dangerous than marijuana, an admission his predecessor, the embattled Michele Leonhart, would not make, reports Steven Nelson at U.S. News.

Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said federal DEA agents aren't prioritizing marijuana enforcement, but he's not ordered them off it.

"If you want me to say that marijuana's not dangerous, I'm not going to say that because I think it is," Rosenberg claimed. "Do I think it's as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I'm not an expert."

"Let me say it this way," he added. "I'd rather be in a car accident going 30 miles an hour than 60 miles an hour, but I'd prefer not to be in an accident at all."

Rosenberg's predecessor, Leonhart, claimed comparisons of marijuana to crack cocaine or heroin would be "subjective" and claimed cannabis is an "insidious" drug.

"This is not a matter of opinion," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "It's far less harmful than heroin and it's encouraging that the DEA is finally willing to recognize that."

U.S.: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Marijuana Banking Measure

BankingMarijuana[Inquisitr]

Amendment to appropriations bill would prohibit the Treasury Department from using funds to punish banks that provide financial services to state-legal marijuana businesses

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a measure 16-14 that is intended to ensure marijuana businesses have access to banking services.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, would prohibit the Treasury Department and its enforcement arm, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, from using federal funds to punish banks that provide financial services to marijuana businesses that are operating legally under state laws.

Many banks are currently unwilling to provide depository and other basic banking services to marijuana businesses because the substance is still illegal under federal law. Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other government officials say marijuana businesses need to have access to banking because operating entirely in cash raises significant public safety concerns.

A similar amendment was passed by the full House of Representatives in 2014, but was ultimately stripped out during the final omnibus budget negotiations conducted by the Senate. The House has not yet debated the Financial Services Appropriations bill in 2015, but a repeat of the cannabis banking amendment is anticipated if and when that debate takes place.

Maine: Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Raises More Than $53,000 In 2nd Quarter

Maine2016RegulateMarijuanaLikeAlcohol

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol reported Wednesday that it raised $53,011 in the second quarter of 2015 in support of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine.

“Mainers are clearly excited about the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition,” said campaign manager David Boyer. “Most people agree that it’s time for our state to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy, and that’s exactly what we’re proposing. Regulating marijuana and taxing it like alcohol just makes sense.”

Maine residents accounted for more than 90 percent of the 190 total contributions that were made to the committee during the three-month period. The largest contribution, $50,000, was made by the Marijuana Policy Project, which has more than 200,000-plus supporters around the nation, including approximately 4,000 in Maine.

“The campaign is in full swing,” Boyer said. “In addition to raising thousands of dollars, we have already collected several thousand signatures. If we can maintain this momentum, I’m confident we will have what it takes to qualify for the ballot and run a strong campaign in 2016.”

The campaign is in the process of collecting the 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters that are needed to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is supporting a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateMaine.org.

U.S.: Marijuana Banking Bill Introduced By Bipartisan Group Of Senators

FirstBankOfCannabis[USE]

Legislation Would Allow Marijuana Businesses Access to Financial Services

Marijuana Businesses Currently Operate as Cash-Only Causing Huge Public Safety Concerns

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Thursday introduced the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, a bill that would allow banks to provide depository and other financial services to state-legal marijuana businesses.

Currently, because marijuana is illegal under federal law, both medical and non-medical marijuana businesses are unable to access banking services like any other business. Consequently, many cannabis businesses operate on a cash-only basis, leading to huge public safety issues as businesses become the target of robberies, and are forced to hire armed security to protect their takings.

“One of the motivations for legalizing marijuana is to eliminate the black market and put marijuana in the hands of a legitimate regulated market,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Whether you are for or against legalization, you have to recognize that having marijuana businesses handling huge amounts of cash with nowhere to deposit the money is a public safety concern that Congress has to tackle.”

Colorado: Denver Drive Underway To Allow Marijuana Use In Bars

DenverMarijuanaBar[TedSWarrenAP]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If cannabis and alcohol are both legal for adult consumption, it would only make sense that it's OK to consume both of them socially in a bar -- wouldn't it?

That's the thinking behind a campaign underway in Denver to ask voters about allowing marijuana use in bars and other places that only allow adults over 21, reports Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press.

Activists need about 5,000 signatures in order to qualify the question for this November's ballots.

The initiative would allow bars to permit cannabis use as long as customers bring their own stash and obey clean-air laws. That translates to either bringing marijuana infused edibles, or smoking outside on the patio, the way tobacco is regulated now. Outside smoking sites couldn't be publicly visible.

"Marijuana's now a legal product for adults in Denver, and it's really time that we give adults a place to use it legally and socially," said Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which led the 2012 Amendment 64 campaign to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.

"We shouldn't be requiring that you sit at home if you choose to use marijuana as an adult," Tvert said.

Recreational cannabis consumption is illegal in Colorado if used "openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others." But the law doesn't bar use in private, 21+ clubs; the Denver measure would just clarify what qualifies as a private club.

Minnesota: First Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Open Wednesday In Minneapolis

MinnesotaMedicalMarijuana

Minnesota’s first medical marijuana dispensary (called a "patient center" in their scheme of things) is scheduled to open in Minneapolis Wednesday. Minnesota Medical Solutions is scheduled to open its doors to patients at 12:01 a.m. CDT.

“This is a great day for suffering patients who have been waiting a long time to have access to this medicine,” said Patrick McClellan of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, a Bloomington man with a rare form of muscular dystrophy who will be among the first patients served on Wednesday. “We are grateful that the Department of Health stepped up and implemented this law promptly.

"Patients in some states have had to wait years between their laws passing and medical marijuana finally becoming accessible,” McClellan said.

Minnesota’s medical marijuana law authorizes eight marijuana patient distribution centers throughout the state, and patients must comply with strict requirements in order to visit them. Their doctor must certify that they have one of nine specific medical conditions, which include cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, severe muscle spasms, seizures, Crohn’s Disease, and glaucoma.

Patients must then register with the state Department of Health and pay a $200 annual fee. Following each visit to a marijuana center, they must submit an online self-evaluation form before they may return to a center to obtain more medicine.

State records show only 41 patients have been approved and, according to Minnesota Medical Solutions, about half of them already have appointments for Wednesday.

U.S.: Senators Tell Federal Agencies To Remove Barriers To Medical Marijuana Research

CoryBookerAndKirstenGillibrand[MarkWilson]

FDA and NIDA officials express support for ending NIDA’s DEA-mandated monopoly on marijuana available for research purposes

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At a Wednesday hearing, Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand pressed federal officials to eliminate political barriers that are preventing research on the potential medical benefits of marijuana. The hearing, “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits,” was held by the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

Officials from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) echoed the Senators’ concerns and expressed support for removing barriers to research that have been created by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

NIDA has a DEA-mandated monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for research purposes, which is grown at the University of Mississippi. Researchers have repeatedly criticized the DEA for refusing to license additional marijuana producers, which they say is preventing the study of marijuana’s medical benefits and the development of marijuana-based medicines.

They have also criticized the poor quality and low potency of the scant marijuana that is currently available, which they say further hinders meaningful research. A DEA administrative law judge ruled that licensing additional producers would be in the public interest, but the DEA has refused to follow the non-binding ruling.

Delaware: Governor Markell Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Into Law

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Delaware becomes 20th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail for simple marijuana possession

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill into law Thursday night that will remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for adult possession of a small amount of marijuana. The Delaware Senate approved the bill 12-9 earlier in the evening. The new law will take effect in six months.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) in the Senate, will replace criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

Delaware is the 20th state to decriminalize marijuana possession or make it legal for adults. Nineteen other states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws removing the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession, four of which also regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. The Illinois General Assembly approved a similar measure in May, which is now awaiting action from the governor.

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