Releaf Magazine

Medical Marijuana Float To Debut in Thanksgiving Day Parade

A rendering of the float that will be in the 2014 McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade from medical marijuana clinic Good Intentions in Wicker Park (Courtesy/Tammy Jacobi)

CHICAGO — The city's first medical marijuana clinic will be tossing goodies out to the kids from its float in the Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday, but don't worry — they're not giving out the goods.

Good Intentions, at 1723 N. Ashland Ave. in Wicker Park, will be in the State Street parade sponsored by McDonald's Thursday morning among floats from places like McDonald's and the Brookfield Zoo.

The float will feature "a garden of flowers in bloom," including onion grass and flowers beneath a 12-foot-long banner that reads "Growing With Illinois."

Marijuana lovers need not clamor around the float, however: "There are no marijuana plants on the float," a representative of ABC Parade Floats said.

"Just as plants grow and flower, the company has blossomed into an organization that provides hope for the most seriously ill citizens of Illinois," said Good Intentions owner Tammy Jacobi.

Passengers on the float will toss out bead necklaces, toy turkeys on parachutes, candy footballs and coins to the crowd.

Illinois was the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana use in August 2013. Twenty-three U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, and the topic remains a controversial one.

Jacobi said she did not anticipate negative crowd reaction.

"We're hoping that parents take the time to explain what medical marijuana is to their children and enlighten a younger generation of the benefits of emerging science and compassion," Jacobi said in an email to DNAinfo Chicago.

Also in the parade will be Hot Doug's Doug Sohn, Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, "Chicago Fire's" Yuri Sardarov.

There will also be performances, floats and giant inflatable balloons.

The parade will begin about 8:30 a.m. at State Street and Congress and head north toward Randolph Street.



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Marijuana May Hold Promise As Treatment For PTSD

More than 5 million people suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) annually, and new research suggests that cannabis may help them find relief and may even offer better care than the current class of drugs commonly used to treat the disorder.

According to research published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the administering of synthetic cannabinoids to rats after a traumatic event can prevent behavioral and physiological symptoms of PTSD by triggering changes in brain centers associated with the formation and holding of traumatic memories.

The study adds to a growing body of research that "contributes to the understanding of the brain basis of the positive effect cannabis has on PTSD," the researchers note.

While cannabinoids occur naturally in the cannabis plant, this research was done with WIN 55,212-2, a synthetic cannabinoid that produces a similar, effect to that of THC, marijuana's main psychoactive compound. The researchers specifically looked at the effect of this synthetic cannabinoid on exposure to trauma reminders. Among individuals who suffer from trauma, it is common for non-traumatic events (for instance, sirens going off) to evoke the memory of the traumatic event, thus amplifying the negative effects of the trauma.

In the first part of the experiment, the researchers exposed rats to a traumatic event (electric shock). After the trauma, some of the rats were injected with the synthetic cannabinoid compound. On the third and fifth days of the trial, the rats were exposed to 'trauma reminders' which triggered memories of the electric shock. Then, the rats went through a trauma 'extinction procedure,' a process similar to exposure therapy, designed to help them cope with post-trauma symptoms.

The researchers found that after being exposed to the trauma reminders, the rats injected with synthetic cannabinoids did not exhibit PTSD symptoms such as impaired extinction learning, increased startle response, changes in pain sensitivity and impaired plasticity in the brain's reward center. The control group of rats who were not administered the substance, however, did experience these symptoms. The treated rats also fared better after the trauma reminders than a group of rats administered with the SSRI antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft), a substance which has been used in the treatment of PTSD with mixed success in reducing symptoms.

The researchers also determined the neurological basis for these behavioral effects. They found that among the rats who were exposed to trauma and trauma reminders, there was an increase in the expression of two brain receptors associated with emotional processing (the CB1 and GR receptors). The compound actually prevented the increase in expression of these two receptors in two brain areas involved in forming and saving traumatic memories, the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.

One of the study's lead authors, Dr. Irit Akirav, previously found a synthetic marijuana compound to be effective in reducing PTSD symptoms in rats if administered within 24 hours of the traumatic event itself. Now, Akirav's new research suggests that marijuana may also be an effective intervention at the later trauma-reminder stage.

While the research is preliminary, it does suggest that human trials should be conducted to examine marijuana's promise as a treatment option for PTSD.

"The findings of our study suggest that the connectivity within the brain's fear circuit changes following trauma, and the administration of cannabinoids prevents this change from happening," the researchers concluded. "This study can lead to future trials in humans regarding possible ways to prevent the development of PTSD and anxiety disorders in response to a traumatic event."

And in recent years, there has been an increase in focus on the potential benefits cannabis may have for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Nearly 30 percent of veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD, according to a 2012 VA report. Some scientists have suggested that marijuana may help PTSD symptoms, which can include anxiety, flashbacks and depression. In a recent study, patients who smoked cannabis saw an average 75 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms.
VIA Huffington Post

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Colorado charters credit union for pot industry

DENVER (AP) — Colorado has granted a charter for the first financial institution to serve its cash-only marijuana industry.

However, before it can open permanently for business, action is also required by the National Credit Union Administrationand Federal Reserve.

The Colorado Division of Financial Services issued the charter Wednesday to The Fourth Corner Credit Union, which could open in January, The Denver Post reported Thursday (

The charter is a step toward resolving a significant problem for the industry, which generally is unable to obtain traditional banking services. As a result, dispensaries frequently transport cash — a crime risk — and use currency to pay employees, expenses and taxes.

Pot remains illegal under federal law, but the U.S. Treasury and Justice departments announced in February that banks could open accounts for state-licensed marijuana businesses — with many conditions.

Banks have said the guidelines do not erase the threat of prosecution if they handled money for illegal players in the industry.

Fourth Corner must get a master account from the Federal Reserve and insurance from the National Credit Union Administration. Fourth Corner can operate until the NCUA makes a decision on the latter.

Attorney Mark Mason, an organizer of Fourth Corner, said the NCUA review could take as long as two years.

"Now, the NCUA can come and look to see how it is functioning, and determine if they will issue the insurance, as they've issued to all the other 2,512 state-chartered credit unions in the nation," Mason told the Post.

Fourth Corner, whose board members include Denver Councilman Chris Nevitt, intends to serve any legal marijuana enterprise. It also will serve nonprofits that support legal pot, said attorney Douglas Friednash, who incorporated the credit union after the charter was approved.

The Legislature previously allowed the creation of a marijuana cooperative that would operate like a credit union but depend on other federal regulations. But no cooperative has been formed.

"This is the end of the line from the state's side. We've done all we can do," said Andrew Freedman, director of marijuana coordination for Gov. John Hickenlooper.



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Oxford names ‘vape’ 2014 Word of the Year

The Oxford Dictionaries named "vape" 2014's Word of the Year.

Oxford defines the verb as "to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device." It was added to the dictionary in August. Vape can also be used as a noun for the e-cigarette and for the act of inhaling itself.

"You are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year," Oxford explained on the OxfordWords blog announcing the decision.

Runners-up included:

Bae: n. used as a term of endearment for one's romantic partner.

Budtender: n. a person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.

Contactless: adj. relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc., to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment.

Indyref: n. an abbreviation of "independence referendum," in reference to the referendum held in Scotland on Sept. 18, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?" Voters answered: No.

Normcore: n. a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.

Slacktivism: n., informal actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website; a blend of slacker and activism.

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U.N. says state legalization of marijuana violates international law

By Jessica Chasmar
The decision by some U.S. states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana violates international law, the U.N. anti-narcotics chief said Wednesday.

Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has vowed to fight state-by-state legalization in Washington next week, Reuters reported.

“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” the Russian diplomat said.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told Fox News that Mr. Fedotov is technically right but has no leg to stand on.

“It doesn’t make any difference,” he said. “Fedotov is going through the motions. … but the decision’s already been made.”

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but the Obama administration has said it was giving individual states leeway to carry out their own laws. Residents of Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C., voted Nov. 4 to allow for the recreational use of marijuana, following the path already paved by Washington state and Colorado. Pro-legalization advocates have now set their sights on California and Massachusetts to join the legalization movement.

VIA Washington Times

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Is America ready for marijuana vending machines?



WASHINGTON, D.C. - The legalization of recreational marijuana in four states and Washington, D.C., has opened the door to a slew of enterprising businesses such as marijuana food trucks, cannabis cooking classes and potentially….pot vending machines.

Bio-tech company Kaneh Bosm is working to bring Automated Dispensary Machines—or ADMs—to the U.S. and Canada. The company’s plan is to fix what it says are some noticeable issues plaguing the current marijuana dispensary industry—such as disappearing inventory, improper handling of the product and loss of the cash-only profits.

“It’s such a simple elegant solution to dispensing this product,” said Michael Martinez president of the company. “In a nut shell dispensers are very similar to a deli. There are a lot of products open behind and in front of the counter. There’s a cleanliness issue there as well as a loss issue. If it’s sitting there open, it’s drying out, the product is losing weight and it’s getting oxidized.”

He says the ADMs can fix all of these problems as well as provide convenience for customers on the go.

Think of them as tricked-out vending machines that can hold multiple cannabis varietals, edibles and other products such as THC spray. Kaneh Bosm does not build the ADMs but distributes them through a manufacturer in Europe.

If introduced in North America, buyers will be able to scan their IDs into the machines to prove they are of legal purchasing age and then choose the product they want from an LED screen. Some specialty machines will be equipped with Wi-Fi and GPS locating technology, so customers with apps can find the nearest location. All the machines will have special climate control options to ensure that cannabis is kept in prime conditions.

In addition to their practicality, Martinez hopes the machines could give customers peace of mind.

“From a medical side—particularly suffers with AIDS who have a compromised immune system—it’s a big deal for them to have other people handling their product,” he said.

The sealed, pre-weighed products in the ADMs would get rid of that problem.

An ADM will cost $40,000, but Kaneh Bosm is planning to offer leasing agreements to dispensaries that will run about $2,000 a month, depending on the chosen bells and whistles.

The ADMs might seem like a big upfront expense, but, Martinez says, they will save businesses in the long run. First they can replace traditional employees who have to hand-measure orders. And second they could potentially run 24/7 depending on local regulations. That money, he says, could add up.

“If the machine sells 1 lb per day—and they do that 360 days a year, that’s 1.6 million in gross revenues just out of the machine,” Martinez said.

Kaneh Bosm is not the first company to market marijuana vending machines. In 2010, entrepreneur Vincent Mehdizadeh patented a product in California called Medbox.

While the product is not yet available for public use, Mehdizadeh told Adweek in July it is being used behind the counter as a secure safe by dispensaries. Mehdizadeh said he won’t offer Medbox as customer-facing product until “social sentiment catches up to us.”

Kaneh Bosm on the other hand, is moving full speed ahead.The company just started to rollout its trial ADMs in Canada. It has yet to offer any systems in the United States but is currently fielding interest.



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Meet The 8 Hottest Publicly Traded Marijuana Companies

With pot now legal in two states for the past year,and decriminalized, conditionally legal, or medically prescribed in many more, ganja startups are gaining traction — and the growth potential is huge, if other states legalize. So far this year, pot stocks are up 147%, handily beating the S&P’s more modest gains, according to consulting and financial services firm Viridian Capital & Research.

Which companies are doing well? Viridian has created a cannabis industry report that tracks the progress of publicly traded companies in the emerging sector. For now, they’re all trading over-the-counter, but watch for that to change.

It’s a Wild West atmosphere in the sector, given that the product is still, ahem, mostly illegal. A few pot companies were forced to cease trading in recent months, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) continues to actively discourage investors from putting money into cannabis stocks. Some pot startups lack professional management, a board of directors, or proper financial controls, Viridian notes — so due diligence is important.

Despite all the reasons to avoid pot stocks, some cannabis companies are impressing investors. Viridian categorizes publicly traded the companies into ten business types. Three are off to a slow start this year — cannabis-related real estate, security services, and software — while the rest have seen at least one company’s stock double in value or more.

The hottest area right now is, unsurprisingly, consulting (up 665% sectorwide through the third quarter of 2014). No doubt plenty of businesses want advice on how to get into this line of work. In second place is cannabis-related biotechnology (up 339%).

It’s no surprise that several of the hot stocks out of the gate aren’t startups, but established businesses switching their focus into cannabis. Investors do love a track record.

Which companies had the best stock returns in the first three quarters of 2014? Here’s a rundown, with top performers listed first (full disclosure: I do not trade any over-the-counter stocks):

1. Novus Acquisition & Development (+3,100%) — This red-hot, Miami-based consulting company provides a medical cost-savings plan for people who’d like to receive alternative medical treatment — namely, cannabis. For less than $20 a month, subscribers receive steep discounts on the cost of their prescribed weed. Last month, Novus rolled out its Medplan benefits network to states where medical pot is legal, and hired another sector startup, organic grower TKO Organics, to grow and dispense its patients’ ganja in seven states.

2. Abattis Bioceuticals Corp. (+1,600%) — Hailing from Vancouver, B.C., Abattis provides cultivation systems, extraction equipment, and consulting services to growers. The company raised $3 million in private placements this year, and went on an acquisition spree. Abattis snapped up fertilizer formulas from one company, a majority interest in marijuana testing-lab Phytalytics, and a one-third stake in a payments company. Last month, though, Abattis filed suit against former Phytalytics executives, whom it alleges formed a rival company.

3. United Cannabis Corp. (+1,025%) — This cannabis consulting and product-making firm has been providing consulting to medical marijuana companies since California first allowed prescribed pot in 1999. United is seeking to patent a super-strong marijuana pill it’s developed. The Denver-based firm even snagged a consulting gig last month for Jamaican government officials contemplating decriminalization moves. (Who knew it wasn’t legal already?)

4. Cannabis Sativa Inc. (+969%) — Products maker Cannabis Sativa recently bought pot research and development firm Kush and named former two-term New Mexico governor Gary Johnson president and CEO of the merged company. Johnson, a sometime Libertarian party presidential candidate, is joined by chairman Steve Kubby, who’s been a Libertarian candidate for governor of California.

Cannabis Sativa markets its wares under the name “hi,” starting with its hi lozenges. Bet a lot of other pot startups will be wishing they grabbed that branding first, or their snappy slogan: “products of higher consciousness.”

5. mCig, Inc. (+244%) — Seattle-area herbal cigarette and vaporizing-device maker mCig is adapting its pocket-sized technology for marijuana use. These devices have the advantage of allowing users to inhale the vaporized product, rather than lung-damaging smoke.

6. Greengro Technologies (+225%) — In March, retailer Greengro of Anaheim, Calif., raised $875,000 in a private placement. The company acquired retailer Vertical Hydrogarden and reopened the store in March, as the first in a planned franchise chain. Greengro is also doing a multi-stage purchase of a construction company, for future expansion. As in most product industries, the retail side is huge — this is the biggest sector in Veridian’s marijuana-stock index.

7. TerraTech Corp. (+157%) — This established Irvine, Calif.-based grower and retailer is moving into marijuana cultivation, and had the biggest fundraising of any public company in the sector, closing a $6.5 million debt facility in February. TerraTech is developing a research and cannabis extraction facility aimed at the medical marijuana market. The company is also collaborating with vaporizer firm Vaporin to create cannabis-product vending machines for the medical market.

8. Mentor Capital, Inc. (+155%) — Silicon-Valley investment firm Mentor dates to 1985, but now it’s moving out of cancer cures and into marijuana in a big way, with a $23 million fund. The company buys substantial stakes in cannabis companies, such as the $2 million in funding that went to industry marketing and research firm The Cannabis Advocacy Machine in June. Mentor also provided $100,000 in seed funding for Nevada Cannabis Ventures, which aims to be a first-mover in that state.

On the down side, Mentor last month filed suit against one marijuana edibles company, Bhang Chocolates, for the return of $1.5 million.

No doubt there’s massive consolidation ahead in all these varied sectors of the cannabis economy, as startups scramble for their piece of what is so far a modest-sized market. But if states continue to legalize and decriminalize, these early movers in the space are well-positioned to flourish.

It’s not often that an entirely new industry emerges in the U.S. economy, so some investors are clearly willing to gamble that they might pick a big winner in the pot sweeptstakes.
VIA Forbes

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Gov.-Elect Charlie Baker will ‘vigorously oppose’ marijuana legalization

Massachusetts Governor - Elect Charlie Baker,lfet speaks with reporters following a meeting with Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, right at City Hall Friday . ( MARK M.MURRAY / THE REPUBLICAN ) (The Republican file photo by / Mark M. Murray )

BOSTON - Governor-elect Charlie Baker pledged to "vigorously oppose" the legalization of recreational marijuana, even as he plans to move forward with the implementation of medical marijuana.

Supporters of legalized marijuana have already started laying the foundation for a 2016 ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. Similar ballot questions passed in Colorado and Washington in 2012.

Baker, asked about the issue in an interview with The Republican/ in Boston on Monday, said, "I'm going to oppose that and I'm going to oppose that vigorously ... with a lot of help from a lot of other people in the addiction community."

Baker, a Republican, said many people dealing with addiction believe marijuana use is a "significant first step" toward addiction to other drugs. "There's a ton of research out there at this point that says, especially for young people, it's just plain bad," Baker said.

Massachusetts, by ballot vote, has already approved the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana and the use of medical marijuana. However, although the medical marijuana ballot initiative passed in 2012, so far, no dispensaries have opened. Medical marijuana advocates have complained about the slow pace of the licensing process, which has been marred by problems. Several applicants whose licenses were approved were later found to have problems with their applications – for example, applicants mischaracterized their local support or had problems with marijuana dispensaries in other states. The process resulted in several lawsuits from unsuccessful applicants.

Baker declined to comment on his next steps regarding the licensing process or the provisional licenses granted by the administration of outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat. Baker said he needs to learn more about where the process sits today and about the pending legal challenges. He reiterated comments he made on the campaign trail that he is disappointed the administration did not consult with experts in pain and cancer treatment.

Baker indicated that he will move forward with trying to get the dispensaries open. "I think waiting is a bad idea. There are clearly people who are looking for Massachusetts to get its act together and move forward on this," Baker said.

Baker also stressed his commitment to addressing opiate addiction – which has become a big issue over the last year after a spate of overdose deaths in Massachusetts. The state legislature passed a comprehensive bill aimed at addressing drug addiction by requiring insurers to cover substance abuse treatment and implementing new regulations regarding data reporting, the development of abuse-deterrent drugs and more. Baker, a former health insurance executive, said one issue that he thinks the bill did not adequately address is the frequency with which doctors write prescriptions for addictive pain medication. "I want to have a very open and frank discussion" with health care providers about the abuse of pain medication, Baker said.

On health care more generally, Baker said the state needs to do more to create transparency in health care pricing. He said today, different providers provide the same health care services with the same outcome, but the price differences can be 300 or 400 percent. "The state can do a lot more with the information it's already collected to make that case. I also think at some point we should get to the point where people have to post their prices," Baker said.

Patrick's administration did recently unveil a new website that links to cost estimator tools provided by all of the state's insurers, where customers can search for the cost of common procedures performed by different doctors based on the provisions of their health care plan.


Via Mass Live

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The Problem With New York’s Marijuana Policy

While running for office, Bill de Blasio promised that as mayor he would amend the practice of singling out young black and Latino men for unfair and, in some cases, illegal arrests for possessing minuscule amounts of marijuana. Though the charges are often dismissed, the arrests can cost people their jobs and access to housing or the prospect of joining the armed forces.

Mayor de Blasio tackled part of this problem on Monday when he announced a new policy under which people found with tiny amounts of marijuana would typically be issued a ticket akin to a traffic summons, instead of being arrested and charged with a crime.

The policy, however, does not reach the fundamental problem of discriminatory policing that disproportionately affects minorities, even though whites use marijuana at similar levels. Moreover, by shifting marijuana cases from the regular courts into the summons system, which does not identify the accused by race, the city loses the ability to track the disparate impact that petty marijuana prosecutions are having on minority communities. The city has to make the summons system more transparent.

This is not the first effort to reduce unnecessary marijuana arrests. In the 1970s, the State Legislature barred police from arresting people for possessing trivial amounts of the drug unless it was being smoked or displayed in public. The number of arrests plummeted to fewer than 1,000 in 1990. But, by 2011, the number had risen astronomically to 50,000. Part of the increase was related to the police illegally charging people with “public possession” after tricking them into emptying their pockets during street stops.

Arrests dropped to 28,600 last year after the police commissioner at the time, Raymond Kelly, told officers to stay within the law. Mr. de Blasio felt compelled to reduce arrests even further after a report last month showed that in some months his Police Department made more low-level marijuana arrests than were made during comparable periods in the Bloomberg administration. The analysis also showed that 86 percent of the people arrested were black or Latino.

Under the new program, people found in possession 25 grams or less of marijuana that is in public view — and not being smoked — would, in most cases, be given a ticket. That’s better than being arrested. But a trip to summons court can also lead to a permanent record and a nightmare encounter with the police system. Courts can issue bench warrants for people who miss court dates, who then can be arrested, handcuffed, fingerprinted and held for days in jail waiting to go before a judge.

A class-action suit pending in federal court has also raised serious questions about the fairness of the summons system as a whole. The plaintiffs in the case, Stinson v. City of New York, assert that nearly 700,000 summonses were issued in recent years by officers who lacked probable cause and were acting under pressure to meet quotas.

On the face of it, the new marijuana enforcement system should be more rational than the old. But it is still flawed. The only way to judge its success or failure is to find out what happens to the people who are exposed to it. And that requires making the summons court system much more transparent.
Via The NY Times

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Colorado Residents Get A “Marijuana Tax” Refund

Thanks to TABOR, Colorado's taxpayer bill-of-rights law, tax revenue that comes in over a certain threshold is mandated to be returned to the taxpayers. Colorado is expecting excess revenue this year, as Governor John Hickenlooper has said, and a rebate will be in order.
Why? Well, partly because taxes raised from the sale of marijuana have fueled the government's coffers above and beyond what had been expected:

Gov. John Hickenlooper's proposed $26.8 billion Colorado budget, unveiled Monday afternoon, includes two rebates for taxpayers.

A $30.5 million rebate for new marijuana taxes is coming. Total state marijuana revenue was different than what was projected in the election blue book for 2013's Proposition AA. Because the estimate was off, under TABOR, the state must refund the money being collected or ask voters again to keep it.

I had previously written about the dangers of expecting larger-than-projected tax returns, especially for something that is in part a "sin tax", but it does look like Colorado has outperformed its expectations here. Caution is still needed, however: this isn't a reason to overproject tax revenue for the next year going forward when it comes to marijuana. Sin taxes are unpredictable, and sin taxes based on a newly-legal activity likely to be more so.


VIA Townhall

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