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Hot off the press cannabis, marijuana, cbd and hemp news from around the world on the WeedLife News Network.
As the French people are being asked whether they favour legalising cannabis for recreational purposes, half of the mayors in Paris region are in favour, a new survey shows.
 
When French newspaper Le Parisien rang up 36 elected officials across the greater Paris Île-de-France region to ask their opinion on whether or not cannabis should be legalised for recreational purposes, only 22 percent said no. 
 
Twenty-eight percent did not want to give their opinion, sometimes expressing concern they lacked information about the topic.
 
But the by far biggest group - 50 percent in total - said yes.
 
"This is in line with opinion surveys," Alessandro Stella, director of research at the CNRS research centre, told Le Parisien
 
The informal survey comes as an online questionnaire aims to ask the wider French public for their views on the topic.
 
Cannabis is illegal in France. Until recently, the drug - which is widely consumed in France - fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.
 
Last year the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.
 
 
The government also gave the final green light for a programme of medical cannabis trials to go ahead, which advocates hope will pave the way for a legalisation.
 
'Stalincrack'
 
France has long struggled to crack down on illegal drug trade, a problem that poses daunting difficulties to elected officials.
 
"The repression is counterproductive, as with the prohibition of alcohol in the United States of the 1920s," said Ali Rabeh, the leftwing mayor of Trappes, a city southwest of Paris, who expressed his support for legalisation.
 
Of France’s total 3,952 identified drug dealing spots, 1,029 - more than a quarter - are found in Ile-de-France and Oise, according to the French interior ministry.
 
The problem is especially visible in Paris' poorer, northern neighbourhoods - one of which is so infested with drug dealers and users that its areas are nicknamed 'Stalincrack' (instead of Stalingrad) and 'Crack hill'.
 

Trafic de #drogue : la France compte 3 952 points de deal >> https://t.co/OAWi6S0PpD pic.twitter.com/oHiAW2PhJt

— Le Parisien Infog (@LeParisienInfog) December 20, 2020

 

The mayors chosen by Le Parisien were of nine départements around Paris and Oise that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to drug trafficking. Some of those in favour expressed hope that legalising cannabis would remove the economy away from the hands of drug lords and over to the state.
 
"Twenty million French people say they have already experimented with cannabis, 200,000 people make a living from the underground economy of cannabis,” said Robin Reda, an MP for Essonne, one of Ile-de-France’s southern départements.
 
Reda leads a parliamentary group of 33 MPs that is currently is examining the potential of legalising the drug for recreational purposes.
 
On January 13th they put the question to the public through an online questionnaire (available HERE), which will be available until January 28th.
 
Legalising cannabis has long been a cause of the political left in France, but Reda - who belongs to the conservative rightwing Les Républicains (LR) - told Le Parisien that he refused to cede the debate over to his opponents.
 
However Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who belonged to the same party as Reda before joining Emmanuel Macron’s  La République en marche (LREM) in 2017, has remained staunchly opposed to the idea.

"As interior minister and politician I cannot tell parents who are fighting for their children to give up their drug addiction that we are going to legalise this shit," he said back in September, adding: "And yes, I am saying shit."

Other mayors expressed the same opinion.

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With 2017 legislation, Argentina joined the growing number of South American countries to relax cannabis laws. At the end of 2020, that legislation was expanded, and now finally, Argentina allows cannabis self-cultivation for medical use.

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Cannabis in Argentina

Cannabis is not legal for recreational use in Argentina, but small amounts of it were decriminalized back in 2009. In the Arriola decision, which was the result of a court case arising from the arrest of five men, the court determined that small amounts of drugs meant for personal use, that won’t affect or cause harm to anyone else, and which pose no threat of danger, are decriminalized. There is no official amount set for personal use, meaning law enforcement and judges must use their own discretion per case.

Much like Mexico and South Africa, which each have constitutional rulings related to cannabis and the right of an individual to live life as they see fit without intrusion from the government, Argentina’s court ruled that “Each adult is free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of the state.” The decision was also meant to encourage law enforcement money to be spent on bigger cases, while leaving small-time users to enter treatment programs instead.

Cannabis trafficking is illegal in Argentina and can incur a penalty of 4-15 years in prison. It’s illegal for residents to grow marijuana for commercial purposes.

cannabis medicine

Last week, our neighbor to the South took a significant step forward in cannabis reform, when Mexico’s health ministry published rules regulating the use of medicinal cannabis. This will hopefully be the first of many major cannabis reform measures in Mexico this year. 

The Mexican government issued regulations on their three-year-old medical marijuana program. This is different from the adult-use legislation currently being discussed in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies - the lower house. The April 2021 deadline for legislation legalizing recreational cannabis use still holds. 

In 2017, former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto issued a mandate to move forward with medical marijuana legalization. That legislation created a void as there were no regulations to go along with it. In 2019, the Mexican Supreme Court mandated that the Regulatory Agencies create medical marijuana rules

While these regulations are three years overdue, they’re fairly straightforward. The primary focus is on cannabis cultivation both for research and for the manufacture of pharmaceutical or pharmacological products. The legislation allows for public and private research, and it provides quality control measures, including good manufacturing practices. 

I spoke with Aurelius Data’s Julie Armstrong who’s excited about the fact that this process requires institutionalized medical data going forward. Mexicans seeking permits for the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes will need to register with the National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA). This will ultimately create a national registry of cultivators.

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Another family has come forward detailing how Brexit threatens its ability to acquire life-saving medical cannabis.

Emily and Spencer Carkeet spend £750 (almost $1,300) every month to import high-CBD Bedrolite cannabis oil from the Netherlands to treat their daughter, Clover, who has epilepsy, reports Somerset Live.

The medication has drastically reduced the number of seizures two-year-old Clover experiences, but with U.K. prescriptions no longer valid in the Netherlands following Brexit, the family is just weeks away from its supply running out.

“The government claims to be trying to sort it out, but at the moment, we have about 10 weeks of oil left,” Emily Carkeet told Somerset Live. “We are waiting for a shipment to come in that would last us another three months, but we don’t know if it will arrive.”

According to a report from The Times, there are more than 40 families in the U.K. in the same position.

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Missouri lawmakers may resurrect their probe of the state’s beleaguered medical marijuana program.

Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, the new head of the House Special Committee on Government Oversight, said Thursday he is open to continuing the panel’s investigation, which stalled in March.

Taylor, who was a member of the committee last year, said the investigation left unanswered questions.

 

The program has drawn criticism and lawsuits from companies whose bids for medical marijuana business licenses were denied. Complaints have targeted the scoring process and potential conflicts of interest.

Whether Taylor restarts the investigation may depend on whether he feels his questions about the program have been answered, such as through the court system, he said.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the final rule regulating the production of hemp in the United States. The final rule incorporates modifications to regulations established under the interim final rule (IFR) published in October 2019. The modifications are based on public comments following the publication of the IFR and lessons learned during the 2020 growing season. The final rule is available for viewing in the Federal Register and will be effective on March 22, 2021.

“With the publication of this final rule, USDA brings to a close a full and transparent rule-making process that started with a hemp listening session in March 2019,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “USDA staff have taken the information you have provided through three comment periods and from your experiences over a growing season to develop regulations that meet Congressional intent while providing a fair, consistent, science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers. USDA staff will continue to conduct education and outreach to help industry achieve compliance with the requirements.”

Shawn Hauser, partner and chair of the Hemp and Cannabinoids Department at Vicente Sederberg LLP said, “The transition from prohibition to a legal and regulated system takes time, and USDA’s final rule is a historic step forward for hemp in the U.S.  Many are justifiably disappointed by the DEA’s continued (and in some ways expanded) role in the agricultural hemp program, but there were also a number of positive improvements. The expanded harvest window, alternative disposal/remediation authorizations, and increase of the standard of negligence to 1% will be critical to building a successful hemp industry, and they indicate the USDA gave meaningful consideration to stakeholder’s comments. We are undoubtedly making progress, and we will continue to work with regulators and through Congress to perfect the regulatory structure for hemp.”

Key provisions of the final rule include licensing requirements; recordkeeping requirements for maintaining information about the land where hemp is produced; procedures for testing the THC concentration levels for hemp; procedures for disposing of non-compliant plants; compliance provisions; and procedures for handling violations.

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A new year means new marijuana legalization bills in the Kansas legislature.

On Wednesday, a medical marijuana bill was introduced with the support of the Kansas Cannabis Industry Association.

Kansas is one of 14 states without legal access to medical marijuana.

Supporters said they are confident enough lawmakers would support the bill if it was voted on. They said the bill would implement a regulated system, making sure the product is safe and tax is collected.

Spencer Duncan, Executive Director of the Kansas Cannabis Industry Association, said he thinks the bill may help boost the economy.

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Virginia took one step closer to legalizing marijuana sales Wednesday due to legislation proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam’s team.

Backed by state Sens. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, and Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, the legislation would allow licensed people 21 and older to sell the drug starting on Jan. 1, 2023.

License-seekers will have five types to choose from: cultivation, processing, distribution/wholesale, retail and testing.

There will be limits, including a possession limit of one ounce of plant material, which is normal for most other states.

 

An outline of the proposed legislation said there will be a 21% tax on marijuana sales, and localities can add a 3% additional tax on retailers.

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The year 2,020 has already ended and Costa Ricans continue to wait for strong answers, due to the pending approval of the bill to legalize the production of Cannabis and Hemp in the country.

These have been difficult days with the COVID-19 Pandemic around the world, where all sectors, mainly the agroproductive, have been affected. The adaptation process has been fundamental, in the case of Costa Rica, the institutions linked to this area have strengthened ties with strategic allies to prevent agricultural production from stopping.

Research has been carried out in favor of the innovation of cutting-edge technologies for agricultural production, this is where the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), Renato Alvarado, emphasizes the valuations of different materials of industrial cannabis, with regards to the perspective for the legalization of the crop in the country.

Take into account that the Environment Commission of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica (CR), in the course of the year 2020, approved the substitute text of the legislative project “Law of Cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic use and of Hemp for food and industrial purposes”.

All the changes were oriented towards the simplification of procedures, the requirements, and formalities for home cultivation for some patients, the granting of incentives to the activity, the definition of requirements for obtaining licenses, as well as a special tax for said activity. Therefore, bill number 21,388 establishes that -the domestic cultivation of Cannabis plants- is regulated.

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Adults in Virginia will be able to legally purchase marijuana for recreational use in two years, under a proposal unveiled Wednesday by the governor of the commonwealth.

Under the proposal offered up by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, according to local television station WRIC, adults aged 21 years and older would be able to purchase pot as of January 1, 2023. 

Citing a spokesperson for the governor, the station reported that sales of recreational pot would not begin until that day, but implementation “would have a quick timeline of roughly 20 to 22 months after the bill is passed.”

Moreover, WRIC reported that the governor’s proposal “would put limits on possession, no more than an ounce of “marijuana plant material,” and on the concentration of businesses.”

Northam is expected to elaborate further on the proposal during his State of the State address on Wednesday in that capital city of Richmond.

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A significant marijuana growing operation was found in Belchertown this week where police officers found hundreds of marijuana plants that violated the legal limit for growing marijuana at home. 

The Belchertown Fire Department received a call of a possible house fire and when they arrived at the home on West Street they noticed a significant growing operation allegedly run by two men from out of state. 

In Massachusetts, marijuana can be legally smoked and possessed but when it comes to growing the plant, there’s a legal limit. A limit that was well surpassed when Belchertown police and fire discovered a growing operation of more than 800 marijuana plants inside a Belchertown home on Monday night. 

It is allowed to have six plants per person with a max of 12 in a household, so if there are two people living in a house they can have 12 plants but if you go above that it’s illegal.

Police arrested two men who were involved in the operation, both men are from Brooklyn, New York. In addition to the plants, police seized $2,500 in cash and a significant amount of growing equipment that covered the whole house. 

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Lawmakers can’t agree on tax revenue, how it should be allotted, or how to set up an industry that creates a level playing field for all.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised again that marijuana legalization is coming. However, because of how the legislative grind works in the real world, he might have to storm the state capitol to get it done.

There’s still a wealth of challenges ahead before New York agrees on how legal marijuana should look. And while it might be a bit of a stretch to suggest that Cuomo will have to launch a reign of terror to shake some sense into lawmakers who continue to sabotage progress, there’s no doubt that he will need to get creative to see it through.

Governor Cuomo used his annual state of the state address earlier this week to double down on his dedication to creating a taxed and regulated cannabis market. He’s confident that 2021 will be the year that it goes all the way. “We will legalize adult-use recreational cannabis, joining 15 other states who’ve already done so,” he said. “This will raise revenue and will end the over-criminalization of this product that has left so many communities of color over-policed and over-incarcerated.” 

It was just three years ago that Cuomo believed marijuana was a “gateway drug.” He was also very dismissive about any efforts to legitimize the plant. But after a study commissioned by his own administration found that ending prohibition could generate hundreds of millions of dollars and promote a new level of social justice, he bought in.

Cuomo Confidently States New York Will Legalize Adult Use Marijuana

A California cannabis industry executive is calling on President Donald Trump to use his executive power in the waning days of his presidency by issuing a pardon to a nonviolent cannabis offender. Kyle Kazan, the CEO of vertically-integrated cannabis company Glass House Group, issued the plea for clemency for Parker Coleman, Jr. in an open letter to the president.

“While there are many thousands of people whose lives are wasting away in federal prison hoping for a miracle, I would like to bring one such person to your attention who is deserving of another courageous act, Parker Coleman,” Kazan wrote to Trump. “Mr. President, you have the power to end injustice through the stroke of your pen.”

Coleman has been in custody since 2010, when he was arrested by federal authorities in North Carolina and charged with marijuana trafficking and money laundering. Upon conviction, he was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison in 2013. An additional 30 years was added to the sentence because two firearms were discovered in the vehicle he was in during the arrest of Coleman, who had prior felony convictions. He is currently serving his sentence at a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas.

Pot CEO Appeals To The President

In a virtual interview with High Times, Kazan said that clemency for Coleman is appropriate in light of the nation’s evolving attitudes toward cannabis.

“As the American public strongly supports legalizing, decriminalizing, and expunging marijuana convictions (one of the very few things that the U.S. populace is in significant agreement with), it boggles the mind that Mr. Coleman is serving a 60-year sentence,” he wrote.

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South Dakota turned heads last year around election time by first legalizing both recreational and medical cannabis, then immediately facing backlash over the decision to legalize. Now, litigation is officially underway to try and put a stop to recreational cannabis becoming a reality, and Republican Governor Kristi Noem is backing the opposition, something which she did not admit to until just recently. 

Using her power as governor, Noem is facilitating litigation that aims to overthrow voter approval of Constitutional Amendment A, the amendment that was officially passed to make adult use cannabis legal in South Dakota. The measure passed at 54 percent of voters backing legal cannabis, a small margin, but still definitely a win. 

Last week, on Friday, Kristi Noem issued an executive order that claims the petitioners against the legislation, which in this case is two police officers who are challenging the legality of this new amendment passing, are acting upon her instruction. “I directed [petitioners] to commence the Amendment A litigation on my behalf,” she states in the official order.

The law enforcement officers are claiming that the amendment is unconstitutional and that adding the new amendment would be breaking the rules of South Dakota’s constitution, and therefore cannot legally be added, even though the amendment passed.

Kristi Noem Is A Known Opponent

It’s no surprise that Kristi Noem opposes the newly legalized industry, as she has been public about her opposition to legal cannabis before Amendment A passed. She also opposes Measure 26, the measure in South Dakota that officially legalized producing and dispensing medical cannabis to patients in need. However, she is taking no legal action there. The medical measure was more popular overall, not just with Noem. It passed at a 70 percent margin and has so far not been challenged. 

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The French parliament will launch an online questionnaire today to better understand public opinion towards recreational cannabis use.

The questionnaire, which will have five or six questions, will be available on the Assemblée nationale website for around one month.

MP for Essonne and leader of the project, Robin Reda, told AFP that a report detailing the results would be available towards the end of March or beginning of April. 

He said: “The goal is to inform debate as much as possible. The success of the survey will depend on the largest number of people possible participating.” 

Government inquiries into medical marijuana

The parliamentary group behind the project will also give conclusions on its studies into the use of medical marijuana (including products such as cannabidiol and CBD) in mid-February. 

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Doctors in the United Kingdom have been able to legally recommend medical cannabis for some patients since 2018.

The UK is one of dozens of countries around the globe that allow medical cannabis to be legally recommended to suffering patients in one form or another.

Some countries have better medical cannabis laws than others, and some countries have better medical cannabis industries operating legally than others.

The spectrum ranges from limited CBD options all the way up to licensed cannabis dispensaries, delivery services, and home cultivation.

Unfortunately for suffering patients in the United Kingdom, the UK has a very limited medical cannabis law and operationally its medical cannabis program does not help anywhere near enough patients.

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Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration approved 57,781 SAS (Special Access Scheme) Category B applications for unapproved medicinal cannabis products in 2020.

It was a huge year given the TGA has only approved 85,000 SAS Category B applications since this medicinal cannabis pathway was established way back in 1992. Here’s how 2020 shaped up for approvals for each month according to the TGA.

January – 3148February – 3568March – 3926April – 3378May – 4133June – 4630July – 5564August  –  5270September – 6206October – 5972November  –  6356December – 5630

It should be noted approval numbers don’t reflect the number of patients receiving these medicines under the SAS as multiple approvals can be attributed to a single patient, and some patients may discontinue use of medicinal cannabis products.

While the uptick in approvals is encouraging, something concerning is a reported continuing lack of supply and exorbitant costs associated with prescription products. MCUA president Deb Lynch says most of the product grown in Australia is being exported, contributing to supply issues.

Others say Christmas demand has delayed supply, with some products completely sold out. And it’s not just a matter of patients switching to another strain or type of product as prescriptions are product-specific. To make the switch, a new prescription needs to be acquired along with a new approval from the TGA.

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The Regulations will strike a strong blow against illegal cannabis activities in Mexico and propel Mexico as an exporter of cannabis products to markets to which it already sells medicines.

Mexico’s Regulations on Sanitary Control for the Production, Research and Medical Use of Cannabis and Its Pharmacological Derivatives (the “Regulations”) were published today in the Federal Official Gazette, for entry into force tomorrow. These Regulations come more than three years after the amendments to the General Health Law and the Federal Criminal Code we discussed here, which mandated implementing regulations within 180 days following those amendments entry into force.

The Regulations became official today following a 70-working-day extension issued by a Mexico City judge late last year, to the September 9 deadline imposed by the Supreme Court on the Ministry of Health to regulate medical use cannabis in its amparo ruling 57/2019.

These regulations comprehensively address the control, promotion and sanitary supervision of raw materials, molecular complexes, pharmacological derivatives and medicines for production, scientific, industrial and medical purposes. Perhaps most importantly, these new regulations mean that businesses no longer need to deal only with COFEPRIS as various other Mexican government agencies will be tasked with interpreting and applying the Regulations. Businesses will need to obtain a number of permits/licenses before they can apply for a cannabis license for any of the activities provided for in the Regulations.

The Regulations will strike a strong blow against illegal cannabis activities in Mexico and propel Mexico as an exporter of cannabis products to markets to which it already sells medicines, such as South America, Europe, and the United States. The Regulations also will facilitate competitiveness in the cannabis market and lead to more cost-effective options for cannabis.

Mexico's Cannabis Legalization Bill Will Boost Business, But There Are Concerns

The U.S. AG has the authority to spur the re-scheduling of cannabis, and has wide latitude when it comes to the volume of enforcement, but they cannot change the law or interpret it on their own whims or politics.

We have a long history here on the Canna Law Blog of analyzing the moves of the federal government, and in particular the Department of Justice (DOJ), when it comes to federal enforcement of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Over the years, we really focused on the acting U.S. Attorney General and how they treat state-legal cannabis from the top down.

It seems like, for decades now, the DOJ has done an interesting legal and political dance with state-legal cannabis. And it appears that this odd legal tango may continue under President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. Attorney General, Merrick Garland, who is the former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee under former President Obama.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m even concerned about Judge Garland and the DOJ when the Democrats just flipped the Senate after the Georgia Senate run-offs–we now have a Democrat in the White House and a Democrat-controlled Congress. This combination would seem to guarantee the passage of the MORE Act, which would very likely have otherwise died on the Senate floor with Republicans as the majority. The Dems also made it clear in their 2020 platform that they would get behind decriminalizing cannabis possession, re-scheduling cannabis on the CSA to get it off of Schedule I, and legalizing medical cannabis.  And now Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said back in October of last year that if the Democrats took the Senate, cannabis legalization would be a major priority.

The reason why Judge Garland and the DOJ still matter is because the MORE Act isn’t guaranteed to pass despite Democratic control of the White House and Congress where, for years now, moderate Democrats have been notoriously ambiguous about the treatment of cannabis legalization. President-elect Biden also stops short of any kind of endorsement of outight legalizing cannabis for non-medical purposes (if you recall, we gave him a grade of “D” when evaluating then Presidential candidates and their stance on cannabis). And with the MORE Act, itself, it really seems like Democrats just want cannabis off of Schedule I of the CSA without much more detail about its regulation, taxation, and government oversight, which will also delay the passage of the MORE Act where those very important details will now likely need to be sussed out if the Act really stands a chance of passing.

Merrick Garland

There are no less than 20 bills up for consideration regarding marijuana this legislative session in Texas but don’t bet the farm that any of them will become law.

While both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed interest in decriminalizing marijuana, which is often considered an early step in full legalization, John Baucum, legislative director for Republicans against Marijuana Prohibition, believes it is not enough to move the needle on the issue. He said he believes that without the governor and lieutenant governor on board, marijuana legalization in Texas is destined for failure.

“If you’re going to have success in Texas, it has to go through the GOP,” Baucum said.

In 2019, a marijuana decriminalization bill that passed in the State House failed to emerge from committee in the Senate.

“Criminal Justice Chair John Whitmire is right that HB63 is dead in the Texas Senate,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tweeted at the time. “I join with those House Republicans who oppose this step toward the legalization of marijuana.”

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