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Florida: Marijuana Business Conference Coming To East Coast May 9-11

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The publishers of Marijuana Business Daily will host their annual Spring Marijuana Business Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida, May 9-11.

"This is going to be an epic year for the cannabis industry after a nearly two-year lull in state initiatives being passed," said George Jage, president of Marijuana Business Daily. "Starting with Pennsylvania becoming the 24th state to allow medical cannabis, there is also a surge of state ballot initiatives in place that will open more medical and recreational markets come November.

"Most notably, we are going to see a big change in the center of gravity of the industry from being West Coast focused to nationally focused with major markets in the Midwest, New England and Mid-Atlantic regions opening for business," Jage said.

The Marijuana Business Conference & Expo will host more than 200 exhibitors and 60 speakers. Attendance is expected to exceed 3,000 entrepreneurs, executives, and major private investors from all 50 states, Canada and Europe, according to organizers.

All seven key industry sectors will be fully represented, according to the sponsors: dispensaries and recreational retailers, wholesale growers, professional and financial services, infused product makers, private equity investors, ancillary products and tech, and testing labs.

New Hampshire: House Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday evening in a voice vote that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine. The measure will now be considered in the Senate.

HB 1631 would make possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. Under current state law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

“This is commonsense marijuana policy reform,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It is irrational to brand people as criminals simply for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

Nearly three out of four New Hampshire residents (72 percent) think the legislature should decriminalize marijuana possession or make it legal for adults, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll released earlier this month. The full results are available at http://bit.ly/1Xdt8j9.

“New Hampshire citizens want the legislature to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy,” Simon said. “House members have done their part, and we hope their colleagues in the Senate will join them in supporting this measure.”

Connecticut Lawmakers Push To Legalize Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Connecticut yesterday filed a bill which would legalize recreational marijuana use by adults over 21. The proposed bill would open the door for Connecticut to join several other New England states considering full-scale legalization this year.

Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity in November to vote for cannabis legalization. Vermont's Gov. Peter Schumlin introduced a legalization plan in a recent address. Lawmakers in Rhode Island are proposing a bill in their state this year for legalization.

Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC have already succeeded in legalizing recreational marijuana through ballot measures.

Quoted in the Hartford Courant, Rep. Juan Candelaria, a Democrat, said "I'm going to be pushing very hard. I'm going to be engaging my leadership in conversation to at least allow a public hearing."

Candelaria was joined by nine other Democratic lawmakers from across the state in filing the bill. Some conditions included in the bill would require child-safe packaging and a ban on public use.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, signed a bill to allow physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in 2012, but was not so receptive to the proposed new bill. "That's as far as I'm comfortable going," he said yesterday when asked about it. "Malloy said. "But certainly every member of the legislature is entitled to their own opinion. We'll see what happens.
It's not my proposal."

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just four dispensaries sell medical marijuana in the state of Massachusetts. With 18,476 active patients, a 50 percent increase from last August, that has led to shortages, and those four shops are struggling to keep up with patient demand.

According to Kay Lazar of the Boston Globe, 14,079 ounces of medicinal cannabis were sold in Massachusetts in 2015. The four operating dispensaries are Alternative Therapies Group, the first to open, in Salem; Central Ave Compassion Care in Ayer, In Good Health, Inc., in Brockton; and New England Treatment Access in Northampton, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive.com.

His dispensary is struggling to keep up with the demand for marijuana, said In Good Health's David Noble. According to Noble, demand is running seven times what he expected when he opened the shop in early September. The dispensary has served 3,453 patients since opening, Noble said.

Noble said his dispensary is in the midst of "operational changes and is conducting longer-term strategic planning so that it can meet the higher demand for its products, and we thank those who depend on the dispensary for their patience."

Vermont: Governor Calls For Marijuana Legalization In State of the State Address

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Gov. Peter Shumlin Declares Drug War a Failure and Calls for Expanded Overdose Prevention and Treatment Access

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin on Thursday, in his final State of the State address, called on lawmakers to pass legislation legalizing and regulating marijuana.

The Governor also declared the Drug War a failure and expressed desire to continue emphasizing a health-based approach to drug policy by expanding treatment and overdose prevention programs, as well as by removing the stigma associated with drug use and addiction.

"The outdated war on drugs has also failed," said Shumlin, "and there is no greater example than our nation’s marijuana laws."

“Pete Shumlin is providing just the sort of leadership we need to see from other governors around the country,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Indeed, it’s a bit surprising, with a majority of Americans in favor of marijuana legalization, that he’s the only sitting governor to actively call for it. I’m hopeful this is the start of a new trend.”

Gov. Shumlin stressed that a marijuana legalization measure should contain the following:

• A legal market to keep marijuana and other drugs out of the hands of underage kids;
• Tax imposed must be low enough to wipe out the black market and get rid of illegal drug dealers;
• Revenue from legalization must be used to expand addiction prevention programs;
• Strengthened law enforcement capacity to improve our response to impaired drivers

U.S.: 600 Churches Call For End To Drug War

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Conference Uses Christian Ideals to Argue for New System

The New England Conference of United Methodist Churches, a group representing 600 congregations in six Northeastern states, on Saturday voted in favor of Resolution 15-203, which uses Christian principles to call for an end to the War on Drugs.

The resolution begins:

“In the love of Christ, who came to save those who are lost and vulnerable, we urge the creation of a genuinely new system for the care and restoration of victims, offenders, criminal justice officials, and the community as a whole. Restorative justice grows out of biblical authority, which emphasizes a right relationship with God, self and community. When such relationships are violated or broken through crime, opportunities are created to make things right.”

It goes on to detail how the Drug War has failed to achieve its intended goal of reducing drug abuse and has resulted in numerous unintended consequences such as the creation of violent and dangerous underground markets, countless lost lives from gang violence and unregulated products, increased dangers posed to law enforcement, prison overcrowding, the rapid spread of needle-borne illnesses due to a lack of sterile syringes, and the disparate impact that these laws have had on poor communities of color.

New Hampshire: Former Narcotics Officer To Testify In Support Of Marijuana Decrim Bill

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A former narcotics officer will testify at a New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday in support of a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

At 9 a.m. ET, immediately prior to the hearing, Maj. Neill Franklin, a 34-year law enforcement veteran and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), will join Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project at a news conference in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9: 40 a.m. ET in Room 100 of the State House.

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Schroadter and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and up to $500 for third and subsequent offenses. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

The House of Representatives approved the measure 297-67 on March 11.

“New Hampshire is the only state in New England that still doles out criminal records and jail time for simple marijuana possession,” said Simon, a Goffstown resident and New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “People’s lives should not be turned upside down just for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Legalize And Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

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Measure with bipartisan support would establish a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

Massachusetts lawmakers this week introduced a bill that would make marijuana legal for adults and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

H. 1561, sponsored by Rep. David Rogers (D-Belmont), Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville), and a bipartisan group of 13 co-sponsors, would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana. The bill would also establish a regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, processing facilities, and testing facilities.

“Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society, and it ought to be treated that way,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There is a mountain of evidence demonstrating marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, less toxic, and less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior.

"Adults shouldn’t be punished for making the safer choice,” Simon said.

The Marijuana Policy Project plans to support a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol if the legislature fails to pass such a measure sooner.

“Voters in Massachusetts are ready to end marijuana prohibition,” Simon said. “We hope their elected officials are, too. If the status quo is maintained in the legislature, change will occur at the ballot box.”

Vermont: House Bill Introduced To Regulate And Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

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H. 277 mirrors the Senate bill, introduced last week, to establish a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

State Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Vermont. Nine co-sponsors have signed on to H. 277, which mirrors S. 95, the Senate bill introduced last week by Sen. David Zuckerman (P-Chittenden).

“There is a lot of support among legislators and the public for ending marijuana prohibition in Vermont,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is part of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. “It is never too soon to replace a failed, antiquated policy with a more sensible, evidence-based approach.

"If it’s the right thing to do, the right time to do it is now,” Simon said.

H. 277 and S. 95 would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana; grow up to two flowering marijuana plants and seven non-flowering plants in a secure indoor location; and possess the marijuana yielded from those plants at the same location. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive while impaired by marijuana.

New Hampshire: Lawmakers To Consider Removing Marijuana Possession Penalties

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Bill introduced with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

A bill has been introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The House passed a nearly identical bill last year by a vote of 215-92, but the Senate refused to consider it.

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six marijuana plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 in New Hampshire, which is the only state left in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

"Criminalizing someone for possessing a small amount of marijuana causes far more harm than marijuana itself,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the bill. "A criminal record can prevent someone from accessing employment, an education, and even a home.”

Rhode Island: Unlikely Trio Asks For Life-Or-Death Medical Marijuana Reform

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Anne Armstrong, Rhode Island’s Compassion Party’s write-in Gubernatorial candidate, seems almost like a normal Rhode Island mother, bustling about her living room, readying for a French TV News interview.

She speaks and dresses with unpretentious New England charm; you wouldn’t know just by looking at her that just last month, she was a viral video star, covered by CNN, AP, broadcast networks and Huffington Post. It’s hard to imagine that the woman gently mixing tiny doses of cannabis oil into a baking dish with coconut oil has an international cult following.

Armstrong on Tuesday gave hope to many of her followers who are in desperate life-or-death need of medical cannabis, by filing and serving a Constitutional complaint against Rhode Island’s cannabis ban and medical exemption restrictions. The candidate says those restrictions are catching the most gravely ill patients in chokepoints that threaten human life directly, while not even achieving any real purpose.

Ask Armstrong’s media outreach coordinator why he volunteers for her, and he points to the tiny dose of cannabis oil on the counter.

“See that stuff? Anne saved my friend’s life with that oil,” said activist Alan Gordon, who is also a plaintiff in the legal action along with unnamed female cancer patient "Jane Doe," who relies upon the cannabis oil to live. Gordon said Rhode Island law bans him from growing medical cannabis for patients in life-or-death need because he was once felonized for cultivation in Georgia.

New Hampshire: One Year After Medical Marijuana Law, Patients Still Risking Arrest

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On Wednesday — the first anniversary of Gov. Hassan’s signing of H.B. 573 — Rep. Donald ‘Ted’ Wright will join patients and advocates at a demonstration in front of the State House

One year after New Hampshire adopted a law intended to allow seriously ill people to use medical marijuana, patients are still facing criminal penalties for marijuana possession.

On Wednesday — the first anniversary of Gov. Maggie Hassan’s signing of H.B. 573 — Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro) will join patients and advocates at a demonstration in front of the New Hampshire State House to discuss a list of grievances and requests to the governor. Patients will then deliver the list to Gov. Hassan’s office.

The list of grievances and requests is pasted below and available online at http://mpp.org/NHgrievances.

“Patients have nothing to celebrate on the first anniversary of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Implementation of the program has been beset by needless delays, and people with debilitating conditions still face criminal penalties for possessing any amount of marijuana. This situation is unacceptable.

“We’re fed up with state officials’ stonewalling,” Simon said. “It’s time to start listening to the seriously ill people the medical marijuana law was intended to help.”

New Hampshire: Medical Marijuana Patients, Advocates To Comment On Proposed Patient Registry Rules

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Advocates will urge regulators to more swiftly implement program that will provide seriously ill patients with legal access to medical marijuana; hearing will take place at the Department of Health and Human Services Brown Building Auditorium at 9:30 a.m. ET Thursday

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday on its proposed rules for the patient registry portion of the state’s medical marijuana program. Patients and advocates will comment on the draft rules (available here) and the impact of a memo from the attorney general’s office (available here) that has delayed implementation of the program.

The Marijuana Policy Project is urging regulators to begin issuing ID cards to patients as quickly as possible.

“It is critical that the state begin issuing ID cards to patients as soon as the rules for the patient registry have been finalized,” said Matt Simon, a Goffstown-based New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There is no reason to delay the program, and many patients can’t afford to wait any longer for relief.

"Our state should not continue to criminalize seriously ill people who are using medical marijuana under their doctors’ supervision,” Simon said.

Vermont: New Poll Shows Strong Majority Support For Marijuana Legalization

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Castleton Polling Institute survey finds 57% support — and only 34% oppose — such a proposal, which will be the subject of a study approved by the Vermont Legislature in April

A strong majority of Vermonters support making marijuana legal for adults, taxing it, and regulating it similarly to alcohol, according to a Castleton Polling Institute survey released on Wednesday.

Such a change in state law would be supported by 57 percent of respondents. Only 34 percent said they are opposed.

“People are fed up with marijuana prohibition,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and this poll shows most Vermonters want it to be treated that way.”

The Vermont Legislature in April approved a bill that includes an amendment initiating a study to evaluate the potential impact of making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol. Gov. Shumlin is expected to sign it into law.

“Just about anyone who reviews the evidence objectively will arrive at the conclusion that prohibition has failed, and it’s time for a more sensible approach,” Simon said. “Regulating marijuana like alcohol would replace the underground market with licensed, tax-paying businesses.

"There is a reason why we don't see copious amounts of alcohol being illegally produced and trafficked around Vermont — because it's regulated,” Simon said.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers To Hold Hearing On Bill To Regulate And Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

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Joint Committee on the Judiciary to consider H. 1632, which would establish a legal market for businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

The Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing Thursday on a bill that would make possession of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET in Room A-2 of the Massachusetts State House.

H. 1632 would eliminate criminal penalties for adults 21 years of age and older if they possess or cultivate marijuana for personal use. It would also create a Cannabis Control Authority, which would establish licenses, collect taxes, and regulate the production, processing, and sale of marijuana to adults.

"Marijuana prohibition has been just as colossal a failure as alcohol prohibition," said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who is scheduled to testify during the hearing. "Marijuana is less toxic than alcohol, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violent or reckless behavior.

"Most voters think it's time to stop punishing adults who make the safer choice, and we hope their elected officials will agree," Simon said.

A majority of Massachusetts voters likely to vote in the November 2014 midterm election (53 percent) support making marijuana legal, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll released in February. Just 37 percent were opposed.

New Hampshire: Senate Committee Votes To Deny Patients Legal Access To Medical Marijuana

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Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee fails to pass bill that would allow limited home cultivation until patients have state-legal access through dispensaries

The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee on Tuesday morning failed to take decisive action on a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana while the state develops a system of regulated cultivation and distribution. Instead, the committee voted 3-1 to refer the bill for "interim study."

Sponsored by Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and 12 immature plants or seedlings. Patients and caregivers would be required to report their cultivation locations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and they would lose their ability to cultivate once an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.

HB 1622 passed the House in a 227-73 vote March 6. If the Senate upholds the committee recommendation of interim study, patients will likely continue to have no legal protection until alternative treatment centers open, which could take another year and a half or more.

An amendment proposed by Rep. Wright would have added a sunset provision, repealing the home-grow option when the fourth alternative treatment center opened. Senators decided against this option in a 3-1 vote, with Sen. John Reagan (R-Deerfield) the lone dissenting vote.

New Hampshire: Senate Committee To Vote Tuesday On Bill To Provide Legal Access To Medical Marijuana

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Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will vote on bill that would allow limited home cultivation until alternative treatment centers open

The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will vote Tuesday morning on a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana while the state develops a system of regulated alternative treatment centers. The vote is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. in Room 103 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

Sponsored by Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and 12 immature plants or seedlings. Patients and caregivers would be required to report their cultivation locations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and they would lose their ability to cultivate once an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.

"If this bill passes, New Hampshire will continue to have one of the most tightly controlled medical marijuana systems in the nation," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "It will help desperately ill patients who cannot wait any longer for legal access to medical marijuana."

New Hampshire: Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession To Get Public Hearing

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Measure with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

A news conference with the bill sponsors will be held at 12:30 p.m. ET, immediately preceding the House committee hearing

The New Hampshire House of Representatives Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday, February 13, on a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. A news conference featuring the bill's sponsors and other supporters will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building in Concord. It will immediately precede the public hearing, which will be held in Rooms 202-204 of the Legislative Office Building.

HB 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven cosponsors including Sen. Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

Vermont: New Hampshire Marijuana Legalization Vote Could Prompt Rest of New England

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Does the domino theory apply here? Political observers believe that last week's marijuana legalization vote in the New Hampshire House of Representatives could help prompt states across New England to adopt more liberal cannabis policies.

The legalization bill in the New Hampshire Legislature enjoys popular support, reports Watchdog.org. "Polls show 60 percent of voters in the state support, and we won't rest until that includes a majority of their state legislators," said legislative analyst Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) last week.

If the bill makes it out of committee and through a final vote and is then signed by Gov. Maggie Hassan (who hasn't sounded very encouraging so far), it would make New Hampshire the first state in New England to legalize, joining the 420-friendly town of Portland, Maine. Portland voted as a city on Election Day 2013 to legalize marijuana.

"The legalization of marijuana is moving fast in parts of the United States, and it looks as though the domino effect could quickly move to other states such as Vermont," said former Rhode Island U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who heads an anti-cannabis group called Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana (Project SAM), supposedly "dedicated to a health-first approach to marijuana policy" but in reality dedicated to the promulgation of Reefer Madness disinformation.

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