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US MI: 2 Medical Marijuana Bills Stall In Michigan Senate

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 02/03/2015 - 08:00
Detroit Free Press, 03 Feb 2015 - LANSING -- Supporters of medical marijuana were thrilled last year when two bills making it easier for people to buy a variety of medicinal cannabis -- including edibles -- passed the House of Representative with large bipartisan majorities. But those cheers may turn to frustration as the two bills have stalled in the state Senate with no visible sign that they'll move anytime soon.
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Medical Marijuana Update

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:30

Illinois patients can have guns, but New Hampshire patients can't grow their own medicine. And California counties stay busy as the legislature ponders actually regulating medical marijuana there. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:left]California

Last Tuesday, Long Beach voters overwhelmingly approved taxing any marijuana dispensary operating in the city. Measure A, which won 74 percent of the vote, would impose a city business tax of 6% of gross receipts per dispensary as well as a $25 to $50 per square foot tax on marijuana grows.

On Monday, a medical marijuana regulation bill won a committee vote. Senate Bill 1262 passed the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee and will next be heard in the Senate Health Committee. The bill is supported by police chiefs and the League of Cities and has been amended to make it more palatable to most, but not all, medical marijuana advocates.

Also on Monday, a Fresno County grower sued the county over excessive fines. Phaeth Holapatiphone, a medical marijuana card holder from Manteca, was growing 43 plants on her mother's Del Rey property when deputies ordered them removed in February. Her mother was ordered to pay $43,000 in fines by county supervisors, who authorized a tax lien against the property to collect the fines.

On Tuesday, Sacramento County supervisors voted unanimously to ban outdoor grows. The board passed, however, on banning indoor grows. Instead it will work with stake holders to develop an ordinance to cover indoor grows.

Also on Tuesday, Tehama County supervisors banned grows on vacant lots. They also voted to add a requirement for a yearly renewal of marijuana cultivation registrations and transferred enforcement of those registrations from the Tehama County Health Services Agency to the Environmental Health Department.

Florida

On Monday, a limited CBD medical marijuana bill won a House committee vote. House Bill 843 passed the House Judiciary Committee 15-3 and now heads for a House floor vote.

Illinois

Last Friday, llinois regulators said medical marijuana patients can keep their guns. Regulators finalizing the state's conditions for medical marijuana have removed a proposed rule that would have barred legal gun owners from becoming cannabis-using patients. Some patients had said they would rather continue to use marijuana illegally rather than give up their firearms owners ID cards. The wording drew numerous complaints in public comments from gun owners who hoped to apply for medical cannabis cards. Many said their rights were being trampled.

New Hampshire

On Tuesday, a medical marijuana grow bill was detoured and referred to interim study. The Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee 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. The bill, House Bill 1622, had already passed the House by a margin of three to one.

Wisconsin

Last Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a limited CBD medical marijuana bill into law. He signed Assembly Bill 726, which would allow the limited use of CBD cannabis oil as a treatment for seizures.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 23:39

An Alabama deputy gets stung, a Baltimore cop gets jail for beating on a drug suspect, and a Texas jail guard gets to see the other side of the bars after selling marijuana to prisoners. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:right]In Camden, Alabama, a former Wilcox County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty last Tuesday to cocaine distribution charges. Greg Barge had been indicted on eight counts of trafficking cocaine from his patrol car after he got caught up in a sting and was arrested in June 2013 for transporting what he thought was cocaine, but was really a fake substance. He pleaded guilty to three counts: attempting to distribute cocaine powder, knowingly using a firearm in the commission of a drug trafficking crime, and violation of the Hobbs Act in which he unlawfully used extortion during interstate commerce. He's looking at between six and nine years in federal prison.

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police officer was sentenced last Thursday to 45 days in jail for assaulting a drug suspect in custody. Officer Anthony Williams was convicted of assault and hindering the investigation that followed in a case known as "Ratgate" because a key witness in the case, also a police officer, had a dead rat left on his car in what authorities described as an incident of witness intimidation. Williams took a man who had been arrested from the police paddy wagon and back into a house, where he assaulted him. Williams said he had done nothing wrong and would do it again.

In Tyler, Texas, a former county jail guard was sentenced last Friday to five years in prison for selling marijuana and other contraband to an inmate at the Troup County Jail. Angel Rafael Vargas, 40, went down after an inmate's mother reported that her son told her jail officers would deliver contraband for payment, and authorities investigated. Vargas copped to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, three counts of furnishing prohibited items to an inmate and one count of bringing contraband into the jail.

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Chronicle AM--April 23, 2014

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 20:01

There's news on the marijuana legalization initiative front, decrim dies in New Hampshire, pot sentencing reform dies in Alabama, Illinois patients can keep their guns, drugged driving and reproductive rights make news, too. And more. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Alaska Legalization Vote Pushed Back to November. A ballot initiative that could make Alaska the third U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana will go before voters in a general election in November rather than in August as previously scheduled, officials said on Monday. Alaska ballot initiatives typically go before voters in primary elections. But a lengthier-than-normal state legislative session this year forced the change because, under state rules, initiatives must go to voters no less than 120 days after the end of a session.

New Approach Oregon Legalization Initiative Gets Another Big Bucks Donation. The Drug Policy Action Network, the political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, has given $100,000 to the New Approach Oregon legalization initiative campaign. That's the second $100,000 in a week for the initiative, which has just commenced its signature-gathering phase.  

Total Marijuana Ban Initiative Proposed in Montana. A Billings businessman has proposed an initiative for the November 2014 ballot that effectively would ban the possession, use, cultivation, trafficking and transportation of marijuana in Montana. Steve Zabawa submitted the measure last week. If approved, it would change state law to say that any drug listed on Schedule 1 of the Federal Controlled Substances Act "may not be legally possessed, received, transferred, manufactured, cultivated, trafficked, transported or used in Montana."

No Decriminalization for New Hampshire This Year. Criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana will not change, after the Senate refused to consider a House-passed bill. Under House Bill 1625, the penalty for having an ounce or less of marijuana or hashish would have been the same as a traffic ticket, and it would have lowered the penalties for growing less than six marijuana plants. The bill passed the House by a better than two-to-one margin, but the Senate refused to accept the bill. It had killed a nearly identical bill last session.

Louisiana to Retain Harsh Marijuana Penalties. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to kill a bill that would reduce the state's marijuana penalties, some of the harshest in the country. Senate Bill 323 would have made simple possession a misdemeanor punishable by no more than six months in jail. Under current law, repeat pot possession offenders can be jailed for up to 20 years. The measure failed on a 4-3 vote.

Medical Marijuana

Florida Limited CBD Medical Marijuana Bill Wins House Committee Vote. A bill to allow patients suffering from seizures or severe pain to use high CBD cannabis oil has passed the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 843 passed the committee 15-3 and now heads for a House floor vote.

Wisconsin Governor Signs Limited CBD Medical Marijuana Bill. Gov. Scott Walker (R) last week signed into law Assembly Bill 726, which allows the use of CBD cannabis oil to treat severe seizures in children.

Illinois Medical Marijuana Patients Can Keep Their Guns. Illinois regulators finalizing the state's conditions for medical marijuana have removed a proposed rule that would have barred legal gun owners from becoming cannabis-using patients. Some patients had said they would rather continue to use marijuana illegally rather than give up their firearms owners ID cards. The wording drew numerous complaints in public comments from gun owners who hoped to apply for medical cannabis cards. Many said their rights were being trampled.

Drugged Driving

Arizona Supreme Court Rules Presence of Marijuana Metabolite Not Sufficient to Prove Impaired Driving. The state's high court ruled Tuesday that motorists with a secondary marijuana metabolite in their system cannot be charged with a DUI on that basis alone, indicating the court was unconvinced the mere presence of the metabolite proves impairment. The state had argued that even the presence of metabolites in the urine of users was sufficient for a conviction, but the high court said "this interpretation would criminalize otherwise legal conduct" and "leads to absurd results." The case is Arizona v. Shilgevorkyan.

Michigan Bill Would Allow Police to Saliva Test for Drugs During Traffic Stops. The House Judiciary Committee is considering a package of bills related to drugged driving, including one, House Bill 5385, that would allow police to include saliva testing through a mouth swab. The measure is opposed by medical marijuana advocates, who raised concerns about the accuracy of the tests. The committee will continue taking testimony on the bills, which would also allow for police officers to confiscate driving licenses and issue temporary permits for drugged drivers as they do for suspected drunk drivers now.

Reproductive Rights

Tennessee Legislature Passes Bill Criminalizing Pregnant Women for Drug-Related Harm to Fetuses. A bill that holds women criminally accountable for illegal drug use during pregnancy, with punishments of up to 15 years in prison, passed the legislature last week. Senate Bill 1391 punished drug-using women if their babies are stillborn or born addicted or otherwise harmed. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has 10 days to decide whether to sign it into law.

Alabama Supreme Court Rules That Women Can Be Charged With Chemical Endangerment if They Become Pregnant and Use a Controlled Substance. The state Supreme Court last Friday upheld the conviction of a woman who gave birth to a baby that tested positive for cocaine, even though the infant was healthy. In so doing, the court upheld the state's 2006 chemical endangerment law and held that the word "child" in the law includes fertilized eggs. The case is Ex Parte Sara Jane Hicks. Alabama and South Carolina are the only states that authorize the prosecution of pregnant women for drug use, although as we see above, Tennessee could soon join them.

Prescription Drugs

Oklahoma Senate Approves Bill Adding Prescription Drugs to Drug Trafficking Law. The Senate Monday approved a bill adding four additional drugs to the state’s Trafficking in Illegal Drugs Act. The measure, House Bill 2589, adds morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and benzodiazepine to the list of controlled substances in the act. Individuals convicted under the act would receive a minimum of 10 years, which is twice the prison term for possession of these substances. The bill is supported by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. It has been amended and will return to the House of Representatives for reconsideration.

Opiate Pain Relievers

FDA Panel Recommends Against Approving Dual Opioid Medication. An advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted Tuesday against approving a combination morphine-oxycodone painkiller. The drug, Moxduo, would be the first medication to combine both opioids in one capsule. Moxduo’s manufacturer, QRxPharma, says the drug is intended to provide faster relief from moderate to severe pain, with fewer side effects than currently available opioids. The panel voted unanimously against approving it, concluding that QRxPharma had not proved the drug is less likely to cause potentially life-threatening respiratory suppression, compared with taking oxycodone or morphine alone.

Search and Seizure

US Supreme Court Upholds Vehicle Stops Based on Anonymous Tip. An unusually divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that an anonymous 911 phone call reporting a reckless driver justified a traffic stop that led to a marijuana. The 5-4 decision saw Justice Antonin Scalia side with the court's liberal minority, but Justice Stephen Breyer's vote gave the conservative majority the win. The case is Navarette v. California. The ruling means police need not corroborate anonymous reckless driving tip before stopping a vehicle.

Voting Rights

Virginia Governor to Restore Voting Rights for Drug Offenders. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced Friday that he will immediately restore voting rights to anyone who has completed their sentence for a drug offense, and reduce the waiting period for other violent felonies from five years to three. Virginia is one of four states that ban all ex-felons from voting for life unless they receive clemency from the governor. But governors in these states can take executive action to alter the policies on these felons.

International

Sinaloa Cartel Losing Ground in Ciudad Juarez, Stratfor Analyst Says. The Carrillo Fuentes drug-trafficking organization, with its enforcement arm La Línea, is moving to regain the El Paso-Juárez corridor from the Sinaloa cartel, whose power in Juarez is eroding quickly, according to a terrorism and security analyst from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. Click on the link for more details.

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US DC: 'there Were Clues. But We Had No Clue' Of Heroin Use

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 07:00
Washington Post, 23 Apr 2014 - After Madison Walker quit heroin, he urged Connor Brennan to get clean, too. Brennan, 20, thought about Walker, who had grown up in the same Fairfax County subdivision and was sober, healthy, close with his parents again. Look how happy he is, Brennan thought. I want to be like that.
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US NV: 178 Applications For Clark Co. Medi-Pot Businesses

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 07:00
Merced Sun-Star, 23 Apr 2014 - LAS VEGAS - Officials have received at least 178 applications from people seeking to start medical marijuana-related businesses in Clark County. The Clark County Business License Department announced the totals 90 minutes before a 5 p.m. Tuesday submission deadline.
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US NH: Homegrown Medical Marijuana For NH Patients Not

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:00
Union Leader, 22 Apr 2014 - CONCORD - Supporters of a grow-your-own provision in the state's medical marijuana law were dealt a blow by a Senate committee, which voted 3-1 on Tuesday to send the self-cultivation proposal to interim study, most likely killing the bill for this year. The vote against the measure, which had passed the Democrat-controlled House by a large margin, protects Gov. Maggie Hassan from a potentially embarrassing veto fight. In addition to a veto threat from the governor, the bill was opposed by the Department of Safety, the New Hampshire State Police and individual police chiefs.
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US NJ: Paramus Cop Shot During Undercover Drug Buy In Garfield

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:00
The Record, 22 Apr 2014 - It was supposed to be a $400 marijuana purchase that was part of a sting operation conducted by undercover police officers. But three alleged dealers, authorities said, tried to rob an undercover officer and triggered a shootout Tuesday afternoon in the parking lot of a Garfield shopping center filled with people, including teenagers on spring break. When it was over, a Paramus police officer and one suspect were in the hospital with gun-shot wounds, and three suspects, including the injured shooter, were under arrest, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said in a news conference at Hackensack University Medical Center. The officer, who was not identified, was assigned to the prosecutor's narcotics task force and had been in the process of buying marijuana from a suspect inside his police-issued undercover vehicle, which was parked near a Marshalls store, when a second man walked up to the driver's window, pointed a gun at him, and said, "Give me everything that you have," Molinelli said.
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CN ON: London 4-20 Party A Buzz Kill

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:00
Metro, 22 Apr 2014 - Victoria Park: Councillor Defends Heavy Police Presence At Gathering On Parliament Hill in Ottawa Sunday, news reports described a crowd of about 2,000 people throwing Frisbees, listening to music and smoking pot.
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US CO: Lawmakers Set Limits On Pot Edibles Possession

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:00
Washington Times, 22 Apr 2014 - Tighter Rules Come on the Heels of Two Deaths DENVER - The Mile High City was jammed with pot revelers Sunday for the annual 4/20 festival, but the mood was far from celebratory Monday as state legislators moved to tighten rules on marijuana products in the wake of two tragic deaths.
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US MI: Mich. Lawmakers Weigh Saliva Tests For Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:00
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, 22 Apr 2014 - Under a bill proposed in Lansing, Michigan could become the first state to adopt a roadside saliva test that aims to tell police whether a driver is impaired due to consuming pot. Saliva testing is being pushed by a bipartisan group of Michigan legislators and championed by the Michigan State Police. But researchers who've studied the test method said results are inconsistent and especially misleading when applied to regular users of cannabis, such as the more than 100,000 Michiganders who are allowed to use medical marijuana.
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US: New Drug Sentencing Guidelines To Free Many From Prison

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:00
Washington Times, 22 Apr 2014 - Clemencies Gain Bipartisan Support In a move that could result in the prison release of hundreds or thousands of low-level drug offenders, the Justice Department said Monday that it will advise President Obama to widen his guidelines for granting clemency.
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US OH: OPED: Legalizers Ignore Pot's Dangers

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:00
Columbus Dispatch, 22 Apr 2014 - Marijuana has now been legalized or decriminalized in 17 states and the District of Columbia, with Maryland joining the list just last week. What's unhealthy about this trend is that it coincides with a declining awareness of marijuana's dangers - especially among young people. Fewer than 40 percent of high-school seniors think marijuana use poses a great risk, down from 55 percent in 2003. Cigarettes are dangerous, more and more adolescents have come to realize, but they don't believe marijuana is. (In fact, they're both unhealthy.)
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US: Recent Vets Push Pot Test For PTSD

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:00
Washington Times, 22 Apr 2014 - Advocates Say Drug Can Save Lives Sean Azzariti, a former corporal in the Marines, says medical marijuana saved his life. Two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, and he was barely getting by on a cocktail of antidepressants, Adderall and sleeping pills. With few options, he said, he did some research on marijuana and began taking it shortly after leaving the Marine Corps in 2006.
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US RI: Edu: Judiciary Committee Examines Marijuana Legalization

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 07:00
The Brown Daily Herald, 22 Apr 2014 - Legalization Bill Would Allocate Millions In Tax Revenue To Narcotic Abuse Prevention The House Judiciary Committee last week heard testimony on several bills proposing to legalize marijuana in Rhode Island and to improve current regulations on the sale and distribution of medical marijuana.
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"Hundreds, Perhaps Thousands" Could be Freed Under New Federal Clemency Rules

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 05:25

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the Justice Department will soon release new, more expansive criteria for recommending federal prisoner clemency applications for President Obama to review. That means Obama, who has so far freed a paltry 10 prisoners early in his first six years could free "hundred, perhaps thousands" in his final two, a senior administration official told Yahoo News Monday.

[image:1 align:right]Most of those who will be eligible for clemency under the new criteria are doing time for drug offenses, a category that accounts for 50.1% of the federal prison population, or roughly 100,000 inmates. As the Justice Department noted in its press release, the move will be "an important step to reduce sentencing disparities for drug offenders in the federal prison system."

"The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety," Holder said in a video message posted on the department's website. "The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences."

Later this week, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole is expected to announce more specific details about the expanded criteria the department will use and the logistical effort underway to ensure proper reviews of the anticipated wave of applications, the press release said.

President Obama has, midway through his second term, begun moving to use his clemency power. In December, he commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses involving crack cocaine. He said the eight men and women had been sentenced under an "unfair system," including the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses that was reduced but not eliminated by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.

This latest move was foreshadowed by a January announcement that the administration was taking the unprecedented step of encouraging defense lawyers to suggest inmates whom the president might let out of prison early, as part of its effort to curtail severe penalties in low-level drug cases, and again last week, when White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said Obama has directed the Justice Department to improve its clemency recommendation process and recruit more applications from convicts.

Drug reform advocates greeted the announcement as a step in the right direction and as a signal to state governors -- most drug offenders are doing time on state, not federal, charges -- but also as a tail-end fix for a problem that needs front-end solutions.

"This would be a positive step toward righting the wrongs of our broken criminal justice system. I hope governors with the same power at the state level follow his lead and reunite more families," said Anthony Papa, media relations manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, who was granted clemency in New York State in 1997 after serving 12 years under the notorious Rockefeller Drug Laws.

"With half a million people still behind bars on nonviolent drug charges, clearly thousands are deserving of a second chance. Congress should act immediately to reduce the draconian federal mandatory minimum sentences that condemn thousands to decades behind bars for non-violent drug offenses," added Papa.

It could do that by passing the Smarter Sentencing Act (Senate Bill 1410), which has already made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But in the meantime, liberating some of the thousands of people currently imprisoned with harsh drug sentences is a move that can't come soon enough.

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Big News from the Administration About Commutations

Speakeasy Blog (STDW) - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 21:58

[image:1 align:right caption:true]The Obama administration may issue hundreds or even thousands of sentence commutations in drug cases,

read more

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US Supreme Court Rejects Florida Drug Testing Appeal

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:50

The US Supreme Court Monday declined to review a lower court ruling that found Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) plan to randomly drug test state employees unconstitutional.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]The decision by the nation's highest court means that the ruling by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals finding the plan unconstitutional stands.

The drug test-happy governor had issued an executive order in March 2011 directing all state agencies to drug test new hires and randomly test current employees. But that order was challenged by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 79, representing state workers.

The union argued that random drug testing was a violation of the Fourth Amendment's proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures. In its decision, the 11th Circuit generally agreed with the union, finding the suspicionless drug tests unconstitutional, but also ordered the state and the union to determine which state employees could be subjected to such testing.

The legal proscription on drug testing state employees is not complete. There are exceptions for some public safety and law enforcement workers.

But Gov. Scott's ambitious plan to foist drug testing on all state workers without cause has been squashed.

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CN ON: Smoke Gets In Their Eyes

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 07:00
Toronto Sun, 21 Apr 2014 - Thousands Toke Up a Storm in Pro-Pot Rally at Yonge-Dundas Square Thousands of marijuana activists gave new meaning to "Easter grass" on Sunday. Yonge-Dundas Square was the smoky site for Toronto's eighth annual 4/20 demonstration, a global event pushing for the legalization of pot.
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CN MB: Rolling Numbers

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 07:00
Winnipeg Sun, 21 Apr 2014 - Nearly 2,000 Revellers Light Up at Annual 4/20 Rally Close to 2,000 people gathered at the Legislative Building grounds on Sunday, their eyes impatiently on the time, awaiting for 4:20 p.m. to strike.
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