Medicinal Cannabis

Australia: Government Passes Bill To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Australia's Parliament on Wednesday passed a medical cannabis bill which will allow the legal cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Health Minister Sussan Ley announced on Wednesday afternoon that amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act of 1967, which passed the House of Representatives on Tuesdday, had also successfully passed the Senate, reports Josh Butler at The Huffington Post Australia.

The new law will allow access to medicinal cannabis products for patients suffering from serious illnesses, by allowing the cultivation of the plant for medical and scientific purposes.

"This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medical cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals," Ley said.

"This is the missing piece in a patient's treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced cannabis products from farm to pharmacy," Ley said. "Under this scheme, a patient with a valid prescription can possess and use a medicinal cannabis product manufactured from cannabis plants legally cultivated in Australia."

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Won't Be Grown Anytime Soon

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana won't be grown in Georgia anytime soon, according to sources close to the situation.

Macon lawmaker Rep. Allen Peake, who has pushed medicinal cannabis legislation, stripped in-state cultivation out of House Bill 722 on Monday, reports Christopher S. Hopper at 11Alive News.

Other lawmakers, law enforcement officials, religious groups, and even Governor Nathan Deal had joined in an increasingly shrill chorus of voices warning against growing medical marijuana in Georgia. These excitable folks apparently believe that -- uniquely among all medical marijuana states, which are now about half the Union -- Georgia would somehow be selected for persecution and prosecution by the federal government if it dares do something really crazy like protecting sick folks.

HB 722 was widely viewed as the next step after House Bill 1 passed last year, allowing patients to lawfully use and possess non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis oil. Patients were counting on HB 722 to make it easier for them to obtain their medicine.

A gutted version of HB 722, with in-state cultivation language stripped away, was written up. The gutted version also takes away original language which would have given a greater number of patients access by expanding the allowed list of illnesses from eight 1o 17. PTSD and intractable pain were both removed from the list.

Texas: Southwest Cannabis Conference Announces Keynote Speaker Montel Williams

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The Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo on Monday announced special celebrity keynote speaker Montel Williams for what organizers are calling "the largest Texas cannabis conference in history."

Williams will speak Sunday, February 28 from 5:15 to 6:30 pm at the Fort Worth Convention Center, 1201 Houston St, in Fort Worth.

Montel has been traveling the country as possibly the highest profile advocate for sensible medical cannabis policy since his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1999. He has been a critical voice for marijuana policy reform, having stated that “medical marijuana has allowed me to live a productive, fruitful life despite having multiple sclerosis. Many thousands of others all over this country – less well-known than I but whose stories are just as real – have experienced the same thing.”

Texas is on the verge of implementing CBD laws, which represents the first step toward medical marijuana legalization. Texas has the second largest population in the country, and all eyes are on Texas to make history and move toward responsible legalization of medical marijuana in a show of compassion for the untold number of Texans who suffer from serious illness.

“Texas has the potential to become one of the largest markets for medical marijuana in the country,” said Rory Mendoza, founder of Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo. “Having a very high profile advocate such as Montel Williams come to this historic event to share his story about how medical marijuana has changed his life, is a positive step in creating momentum towards necessary change.

California: Attorney Going For 8th Consecutive Win In Marijuana Cultivation Cases

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Are prosecutions for legitimate marijuana plant growing still a thing? In rural California counties, apparently so.

Attorney Joseph Tully (author of California: State of Collusion) is going for his eighth consecutive win in rural California marijuana grower trials as juries continue to foil rural prosecutorial crusades against cannabis.

Monday is prosecution witness day in the People v Erin O’Neil trial in South Lake Tahoe arising from O’Neil’s openly growing 271 plants (about 240 pounds) under California’s Compassionate Use Act (medical growth collectives) in Placerville, California (known as “Hangtown” back in mining days).

Why does this trial matter?

Growers almost always cave and plead out when facing prosecution for this amount of cannabis to avoid any possibility of prison time. In this case O’Neil is standing up to retired rural prosecutor Worth Dikeman (who came back out of retirement to prosecute this case) to say “Enough is enough.”

“On the eve of full legalization why do we allow a retired prosecutor to waste taxpayer dollars for his personal crusade against marijuana which is counter to the law?” asked lawyer Tully. “It’s reminiscent of the Old South after the Civil Rights Act – they are way behind on the law and important social change.”

The People v Erin O’Neil is being held Monday through Wednesday this week and next.

Photo: Weedist

Ohio: 3 of 4 Voters Support Making Medical Marijuana Legal

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About three out of four Ohio voters support amending the state constitution to make medical marijuana legal for patients with terminal or debilitating conditions, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling.

The survey of 672 randomly selected Ohio voters was conducted February 17-18, just as advocates are preparing to launch a campaign in support of a constitutional ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. It found 74 percent of voters in favor and only 22 percent opposed, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

“It’s become pretty common knowledge that marijuana can be incredibly beneficial in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM), a committee that has been formed to support the forthcoming initiative. “It’s not surprising that a vast majority of voters agree patients should be allowed to consume it if their doctors think it could be helpful.

"There are few laws still on the books that are as unpopular as those that prohibit sick and dying people from accessing medical marijuana,” Tvert said.

OMM is currently working with local advocates to draft the initiative and expects to initiate the petitioning process later this month. If the petition drive is successful, the measure will appear on the November ballot.

“Ohio’s current marijuana policy is antiquated and inhumane,” Tvert said. “We hope to give voters an opportunity to change that this November.

California: Vouchers For 2,000 Grams Of Weed To Be Given Away Friday At San Jose City Hall

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A California activist today announced he will be giving away vouchers for free weed at San Jose City Hall, Friday, February, 19, from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Dave Hodges, founder of Weed4Votes, and the All American Cannabis Club, will give away vouchers for 2,000 grams of weed to California residents today, Friday, February 19, in San Jose, California, at San Jose City Hall.

This is part of Weed4Votes project called Weed4Voters, according to Hodges. The Weed4Voters program promotes awareness of the Marijuana Legalization efforts in the state for 2016.

During the Weed4Voters event, a voucher for 1 free gram of weed will be given to any California resident who provides their contact information to Weed4Votes.com.

What:
Weed4Voters will be passing out 2,000 vouchers for free grams of marijuana today, Friday.

When:
TODAY
February 19, 2016
2pm - 8pm

Where:
Across the street from San Jose City Hall
200 E Santa Clara St.
San Jose, CA 95112

Recreational marijuana users can redeem their vouchers for free pot after legalization passes. Medical marijuana patients may not have to wait for legalization to redeem their vouchers. "Patients are encouraged to ask their favorite cannabis collectives and delivery services if they are participating in the Weed4Voters voucher program," Hodges said.

Alabama: Medical Marijuana Advocates Rally At Capitol

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Protesters gathered at the State House in the Capitol last week, asking lawmakers to allow safe access to medical marijuana.

"You can't spell healthcare without THC!" said protester Faye Medlock of the Medical Cannabis Advocates of Alabama, reports Caitlin Cline at Alabama News. "So many people that this could help, and the government is hindering," said Medlock, who added cannabis helps her fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.

Marijuana is illegal for any purpose in Alabama, except for the narrow exception of Carly's Law, under which only the UAB Hospital and the Children's Hospital of Alabama are allowed to administer CBD oil (cannabidiol is a nonpsychoactive component of marijuana) to research patients.

Getting the entire plant legalized for medicinal use is the goal of the Medical Cannabis Advocates. It's something that protester Regina King Vinzant said is worth fighting for, for her health.

"I have HIV; it helps me to eat," Vinzant said. "I have a brain mass; I have some heart problems. I have several different things that I find out it will help with."

The Medical Cannabis Advocates of Alabama hope to break the stigma that surrounds cannabis usage in the state; they argue that it is much less dangerous than other substances, including legal ones, and the evidence backs them up.

Ohio: Researcher Dr. Suzanne Sisley To Discuss Effects of Marijuana on PTSD

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Renowned PTSD researcher Dr. Suzanne Sisley will be addressing the Ohio House of Representatives Marijuana Task Force and speaking to the media and the Ohio community during a Thursday press conference.

Dr. Sisley, of Scottsdale, Arizona, is a physician in the field of medicinal cannabis and will share her expertise with the Ohio House task force on medical marijuana.

She will address the potential benefits of using cannabis to treat PTSD; in addition, there will be a press conference for media personnel and others to hear Dr. Sisley discuss her work.

The press conference will be at 1 p.m. on Thursday, February 18, at the Ohio Statehouse, Ladies Gallery. Those planning to attend should RSVP to Cid Rhomberg of Apeks Supercritical, a CO2 botanical extraction equipment manufacturer based in Johnstown, Ohio.

The Marijuana Task Force testimony will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 18, at the Ohio Statehouse, Room 313, Finance Conference room.

U.S.: Former Surgeon General Calls For Acceptance Of Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, 82, who served a short-lived tenure with President Bill Clinton, built a reputation for being willing to speak openly about medicinal uses for marijuana. On Saturday morning, Elders opened the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco with a ringing condemnation of America's drug enforcement policies.

Elders called for an end to the federal policy which classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical uses, reports Peter Hecht at The Sacramento Bee. That officially makes weed worse than meth or cocaine, according to the federal government.

The former Surgeon General called for increased federal marijuana research, and decriminalization of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use, heralding a shift from a law enforcement approach to a public health approach.

"We know that prohibition laws did nothing but waste money, waste lives and destroy opportunities," said Elder. "It is not working. And marijuana has been the engine driving the drug war."

Elders spoke at length on the medical benefits of marijuana for pain and nausea, and called for more studies on whether "one of the oldest domesticated crops in the world" could also offer benefits to those suffering from ailments such as shingles and emotional disorders.

She urged more research -- "a health-centered approach for looking at drugs" -- instead of more law enforcement.

U.S.: Sen. Elizabeth Warren Urges Investigating Marijuana As Alternative To Pain Pills

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) this week asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research how marijuana might help curb the opioid epidemic in America.

The U.S. is the largest consumer of prescription painkillers in the world, according to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Even though Americans are just 5 percent of the global population, they gobble 75 percent of the planet's opioid medications.

Warren asked the CDC to conduct studies about alternatives to pain relief drugs, such as marijuana, reports Jackie Salo at International Business Times

In a letter sent Monday to CDC head Dr. Thomas Friedan, Warren urged the agency to finalize its guidance to doctors on prescribing oxycodone, fentanyl, and other pharmaceutical opioid painkillers, reports Alan Pyke at Think Progress.

In the letter, Warren mentioned the struggle her constituents in Massachusetts have faced with painkiller abuse. She said there were almost 1,100 confirmed cases of opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts in 2014, which was a 65 percent increase from 2012.

U.S.: Thursday Webinar To Address Quality Control In Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Thursday press briefing via Webinar will address the need for better quality control in medical marijuana products.

The briefing, hosted by RTI International, will address the public health risks arising in this unregulated market due to factors such as:

• Product types and formulations that vary from state to state, store to store, even product to product;
• Inaccurate product labeling and marketing claims;
• Limited testing of medical marijuana products for safety and efficacy; and
• Lack of professional guidelines and governmental regulations. This places the burden on the consumers and providers to be aware of the above factors and how they affect dosing and ultimately, safety.

This briefing comes at a time when the number of medical marijuana users is on the rise in the U.S. and even presidential candidates on the campaign trail are calling for more research.

Marijuana itself, of course, is as safe as it ever was. But as big corporate money and big corporate mass production methods have come to the medicinal cannabis world, the mom-and-pop atmosphere of trust and safety which had distinguished the industry from the rest of the cut-throat economy is fading away. Production is increased by using chemical fertilizers and harsh pesticides, and those who are focused only on profit and not on healing are looking only at the bottom line.

Nevada: Judge Rules Medical Marijuana Registration Program Is Constitutional

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Nevada's medical marijuana registration program is constitutional, a Clark County judge ruled on Friday.

In a 38-page order, District Judge Rob Bare also determined that the state is legally immune from claims of fraud and unjust enrichment, reports Carri Geer Thevenot at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"The court may not judge the wisdom or necessity of the registration program because the court is not the policy maker," Judge Bare wrote. "The best avenue of redress is through the Legislature, not the courts."

The ruling was the result of a class action lawsuit filed August 13, 2015 by a 42-year-old Las Vegas man with a history of migraine headaches. The man, identified in court documents only as John Doe, alleged that Nevada had engaged in fraud and unjust enrichment by accepting fees for medical marijuana registration cards without giving patients a legal source of cannabis.

The Nevada Legislature in 2013 voted to allow medical cannabis dispensaries and commercial growing, but the first dispensary didn't open until July 2015. The second dispensary in the state opened on August 24, 2015 in Clark County.

The plaintiff's attorney, Jacob Hafter, said he plans to appeal the ruling.

Australia: Legislation Will Legalize Medical Marijuana Cultivation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Australian government on Tuesday introduced legislation to Parliament that would legalize cannabis cultivation for medicinal or scientific purposes.

The bill would amend the half-century-old Narcotic Drugs Act and create a licensing scheme, reports Rod McGuirk at the Associated Press. Marijuana is currently illegal in Australia, but two states are considering legalizing it for medicinal purposes.

"This government understands that there are some Australians suffering from severe conditions for which cannabis may have some applications and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available," Health Minister Sussan Ley told Parliament.

The bill is guaranteed to become law; the principal opposition party has already pledged support. "In fact, I've had support across the chambers and around the country and I really believe this is bipartisan," Ley said, reports Alexandra Beech at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

A 2013 government survey of 24,000 Australians found that 69 percent supported allowing cannabis use for medicinal purposes.

New York: Shinnecock Tribe Vote To Join Medical Marijuana Industry

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In a historic vote among its members over the weekend weekend, the Shinnecock Indian Nation has voted in support of plans to construct a medical marijuana cultivation facility and dispensary on tribal land near Southampton.

Tribal members voted 71 percent (83) to 29 percent (34) to approve the project and pursue designation from the State of New York as a provider for patients in the state's Medical Cannabis Program.

"As a people, we have always had a cultural appreciation for natural, holistic medicine and the difference it can make in the lives of those suffering most," said Bryan Polite, chairman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation. "The New York State Compassionate Care Act was a big step in the right direction for administering quality holistic medicine to people suffering from very serious illnesses."

"We also recognize this is an opportunity to create jobs for our members and true economic development to support tribal programs," Polite said. "We are encouraged by the enthusiastic support of our members and look forward to continuing our discussions with the State of New York to make this a reality."

On Jan. 1, New York became the 23rd state to allow the medical use of cannabis. The state approved five companies to produce it and 20 dispensaries to distribute it to roughly 125,000 New Yorkers diagnosed with a specific group of illnesses.

Advocates have called for an expansion of the list of approved illnesses, while also saying there are not enough dispensaries to adequately serve patients.

Utah: Mormon Church Opposes Medical Marijuana Edibles Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Mormon church is opposing a bill before the Utah Legislature which would legalize the medicinal use of edible cannabis products.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leaders claimed they were worried about "unintended consequences" of the bill introduced by Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Eagle Mountain), reports the Associated Press. A majority of state lawmakers in Utah are Mormons, so the church position on an issue usually is codified into law.

The church isn't objecting to another medical marijuana bill, a much more restrictive CBD-only measure that would only allow access to cannabis infused oil, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins.

Madsen told The Salt Lake Tribune that church representatives told him and other lawmakers about their opposition, but wouldn't explain their reasoning. "Maybe they don't want to be known as the spcial interest who put their thumb on the scale and decided this for everyone in the state," he said.

"If they're going to put their thumb on the scale politically and force everyone to a standard, then I think they owe something of an explanation to the people," Sen. Madsen said. Madsen's right; at the very least, these hypocrites seem to be falling a little short of their ideals.

Both medical marijuana bills in the Utah Legislature have been approved in committee and are expected to be debated before the full Senate within a week.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana More Profitable Than Recreational Weed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In Oregon, which had the largest medical marijuana dispensary infrastructure in place when recreational weed was legalized in a November 2014 vote, medicinal cannabis is still more profitable for shop owners.

Recreational marijuana first became available commercially in Oregon last October, when medical dispensaries were first allowed to sell weed under a three-month tax holiday, reports Sean Williams at The Motley Fool. Following the tax holiday, a 25 percent tax kicked in on January 1 this year.

When the Oregon Liquor Control Commission takes control of the recreational marijuana industry later this year, taxes will drop to 17 percent.

Oregon dispensaries are free to pass the tax along to their customers, absorb some or all of the tax, or ask growers and processors to share in the tax. State regulators aren't at all involved in cannabis pricing; they just want their share of the revenue.

While some Oregon consumers have paid the 25 percent tax without blinking, others have returned to "a guy" to buy black market weed. Some shop owners are taxing their customers, while others are attempting to absorb the tax in an effort to establish consumer loyalty.

New Jersey: Christie Won't Apologize To Family Who Left State For Child's Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday defended his state's strict medical marijuana program, shrugging off a suggestion that a family had no choice but to relocate to Colorado so their ailing daughter could access medicinal cannabis products.

"Vivian Wilson's family chose themselves to leave the state of New Jersey," an unapologetic Christie blustered, reports Susan K. Livio at NJ Advance Media. "The fact is we signed into law the ability for children to get medical marijuana under very strict guidelines."

"The folks who want edibles all the time for kids should go to Colorado," Christie said. "So you know, I'm sorry, I am an anti-marijuana guy. You are a pro-marijuana guy," he said to a spectator at Wednesday's town hall who asked about the Wilson family, and whether it was fair they were forced to leave the state for their daughter's health. "That's fine," Christie said. "I'll enforce the federal law."

"This is a medical program, not a recreational program," the incredibly insensitive Christie unnecessarily pointed out. (Is this loud-mouthed lard tub really suggesting that Vivian's parents want to get her stoned?)

Vivian, 4, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe, potentially life-threatening form of epilepsy that results in seizures that traditional pharmaceuticals have been unable to control.

U.S.: Facebook Deletes Medical Marijuana Pages

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Facebook apparently doesn't "Like" medical marijuana. The social media giant this week deleted pages run by three New Jersey dispensaries, and at least a handful of others across the country.

The move surprised dispensary owners and angered patients, reports Susan K. Livio at NJ Advance Media.

"It seems high-handed to simply shut down important resources for sick patients without even saying why or giving organizations a way to ask for reconsideration," said Peter Rosenfeld, one of 5,668 registered medical marijuana patients in New Jersey's program. "What better use of social media than having sites where parents of sick children can ask questions about medication and treatments?"

Facebook media relations personnel refused to answer questions, and referred reporters to the community standards section on Facebook's homepage.

Officials from Breakwater Wellness and Treatment Center in Cranbury, and Compassionate Sciences Alternative Treatment Center in Bellmawr, said their pages were shut down by Facebook on Tuesday. When they tried to use the pages, they got an electronic message reading, "We remove any promotion or encouragement of drug use."

"Your page is currently not visible on Facebook," the message reads. "It looks like content on your page does not follow the Facebook Community Terms and Standards."

California: Cannabis Industry Association Announces New Board Members

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The California Cannabis Industry Association on Wednesday announced the election of three new board members.

The staff and current board of CCIA welcomed Lindsay Robinson, director of development at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP); Doug Francis, co-founder/president/COO of Weedmaps; and Aaron Justis, president of Buds & Roses.

“The California Cannabis Industry strives to bring together top industry entrepreneurs, innovators, and cannabis pioneers throughout the state of California to be the voice for the emerging cannabis industry," said Nate Bradley, executive director of CCIA. "The candidates in this election proved to be some of the greatest talents in the industry, and we look forward to working together to guide California out of cannabis prohibition.”

As director of development at MPP, Lindsay Robinson oversees MPP’s national fundraising and membership strategies. Based in San Francisco, California, Lindsay has been a key member of MPP’s fundraising team since 2010 and has been at the helm of department since 2014.

Doug Francis co-founded Weedmaps, where he currently serves as president and COO. Weedmaps is the leading marijuana technology and media company with business and consumer relationships spanning the globe. Due to Weedmaps’ size, revenue, reach and data, the company will play a major role in how this industry will transition out of its prohibition era.

California: Veterans Don't Want Marijuana Legalization To Affect Medical Access

Weed4WarriorsProject[Weed4WarriorsProject.org]

Military veterans that reside in the state of California have come together to express concerns over the implications to them from the passage of Sean Parker's Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AB 266) legislation. Under AB 266, almost all of the donations of medicine (medical cannabis) the veterans receive would be outlawed with the risk of jail to all involved.

"Across the state of California, from growers to manufacturers, all would become unable to donate medicine," according to the Weed For Warrirors Project (WFWP). "This legislation would make it nearly impossible to provide medicine to those members of society who require it most."

"Veterans have already fought for our freedoms; most will never live a normal life again because of it," according to the Weed For Warriors Project. "They come home only to be drugged up beyond comprehension by the VA who has been working alongside big pharmacy for their medical programs. These veterans do not want to cause problems; they just want their right to choose what they medicate with without the threat of jail or losing their benefits.

"The vets of California, as well as from around the country, understand the legislation for regulation of medical cannabis is necessary, and they seek to help advance this effort," the WFWP announced. "However, AB 266, as it stands, if passed, would place the veteran population in California at unnecessary risk. They are asking that Sean Parker and his team amend this issue before it becomes law and destroys more lives than the war they already fought."

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