Roxanne Frost, a psychology student at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, consumes cannabis every day to help treat her anxiety and ADHD. Frost, 26, has used medical marijuana since 2015 when she was working as a preschool educator. At William Paterson, she would smoke early in the morning for a sense of normalcy.

 

“Every single paper I have ever written, I have written while high late at night,” Frost says. “It was able to help me to articulate my words better, be more creative [and] not feel so pressured or critical of myself.”

The administration at William Paterson saw things differently. While medical marijuana has been legal in New Jersey since 2010, using cannabis for recreational or medical purposes on campus is a violation of the university’s code of conduct, according to Mary Beth Zeman, director of the school’s public relations. University police may arrest students who are suspected of using marijuana, “depending on quantity and surrounding circumstances.” 

Even though medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, the University of California system bans all use, possession and sale, except for approved academic research, and Stanford University prohibits possession and use of marijuana on any university-owned property. Similarly, after New York state legalized personal use of marijuana in March for people age 21 and older, a Syracuse University administrator sent an email to students in April reinforcing the university’s ban on cannabis use, even if a student has a state-issued medical marijuana card.

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After Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed the state legislature's bill legalizing recreational marijuana on Tuesday, eyes are now on Rhode Island and New Hampshire as the final holdouts in New England to legalize cannabis.

Some marijuana rights advocates told ABC News it's only a matter of time before the two states join their neighbors, given the millions in extra revenue from marijuana sales and the calls for criminal justice reform from their constituents.

 

"I think the pressure will be there, being islands of prohibition in the Northeast," DeVaughn Ward, the senior legislative counsel for the non-profit group the Marijuana Policy Project, told ABC News.

While a vote on a legalization bill in Rhode Island is gaining strength following a passage in its state Senate, advocates on the ground in New Hampshire told ABC News that their state needs extra work.

 
 
Portland Press Herald via Getty Images, FILE
Employees help customers at SeaWeed Co. on the first day of recreational marijuana sales in Sou...Read More



PHOTO: Employees help customers at SeaWeed Co. on the first day of recreational marijuana sales in South Portland, Maine, Oct. 9, 2020.

With parliamentary approval this month of a bill to legalize medical, cosmetic, and industrial cannabis, Morocco edges closer to establishing a legal cannabis industry. Developed by the Ministry of the Interior, the bill regulates activities related to the cultivation, production, manufacture, transport, and marketing of cannabis as well as its export and import for medical and therapeutic purposes. The National Agency for the Regulation of Activities Related to Cannabis was established to authorize all cannabis-related activities.

Morocco is considered one of the most stable countries in the Mediterranean and North African region. In December 2020, Israel and Morocco officially normalized a long-standing informal relationship that has fostered Israeli tourism and business ties over many years. But the bond between Morocco and Israel extends far beyond a few tourists and fortune seekers.

Morocco was once the home of a significant Jewish population that fled Ancient Israel in the 6th century BCE. By the time Israel was recognized as a state in 1948, Morocco’s Jewish community numbered some 250,000. Over the next few decades, the majority of Moroccan Jewry immigrated to Israel, becoming one of the most significant cultural groups in the country. To this day, Moroccan culture is influential in Israel’s culinary, music, business, and religious realms. Coming on the heels of normalization with the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, no one was surprised by the Israel-Morocco handshake.

Regulating Cannabis Will Help Farmers

Morocco’s cannabis black market is a huge part of the country’s informal economy. The U.N. International Narcotics Control Board reported in 2018 that 400 tons of cannabis deriving from Morocco were seized in 2017, almost 86% of seizures in all of Europe. More than 107,000 people were prosecuted for drug crimes in 2017 according to Mustapha El Khalfi, then Morocco’s government spokesperson. Arrest warrants have been issued for another 50,000 people. These people are subject to blackmail and the threat that they will be exposed to the authorities, forcing them to live clandestinely and have limited freedom of movement.

The vast majority of Morocco’s cannabis is cultivated in the Rif region, one of the poorest areas in the country and the seat of much public unrest and outcry over state corruption. The Rif mountains are known for a highly prized landrace called Beldia Kef (or Kief) which is considered particularly adapted to the local terrain and climate. This strain is valued for its high CBD content and low need for water. But as market demand for THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid, increases new strains that are less hardy and require a great deal more irrigation are being introduced in an area that is increasingly becoming more arid. Unregulated cannabis cultivation incurs ecological consequences such as deforestation, soil erosion, and water source depletion, that impact the entire region.

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Rhode Island just made history by approving a legal cannabis bill. The proposed legislation passed 29-9 earlier this week. 

The bill is sponsored by Michael McCaffrey, Democrat and the Senate Majority Leader and Health & Human Services Chairman Joshua Miller, another Democrat. It was introduced back in March, and another legal cannabis proposal was brought up in the state by Governor Dan McKee. 

“It is a historic day, as it is the first time a bill to legalize and regulate cannabis has reached the floor of either legislative chamber in Rhode Island,” Miller said regarding the bill. “It is important that we act expeditiously to enact a regulatory framework. 

“Cannabis legalization is as much about reconciliation as it is revenue,” McCaffrey added regarding the reasons behind introducing this bill. “[P]olicies of prohibition have disproportionately impacted communities of color, and I believe we must ensure any effort to legalize cannabis recognizes and rectifies those wrongs. Low barriers to entry, expungement reform, and broad access to programs designed to increase access for individuals and communities impacted by the failed War on Drugs are an important and necessary component.”

Not only do the Senate and governor have bills introduced, the House does, too. Rhode Island’s House of Representatives also has a bill backed by Scott Slater, a Democrat. However, the House will not be considering the bill until summer or all, while the Senate is moving forward. 

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The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission fined both TILT Holdings Inc. (CSE: TILT) (OTCQX: TLLTF) and Ayr Strategies (OTC: AYRWF) last week for over $200,000 each as both companies try to resolve issues each blamed on previous management. The settlement also allows each company to move forward with plans in the state.

Tilt Holdings

Tilt Holdings agreed to the settlement resolving concerns of the CCC, which cleared a path for the provisional licensure for the retail sale of adult-use and medical cannabis in Massachusetts. Tilt CEO Gary Santo said in a statement, “With today’s decision, TILT has fully resolved the dispute regarding certain agreements entered into by the original management team of TILT with other license applicants. In February, TILT terminated all remaining contractual relationships between the company and prospective applicants. At yesterday’s meeting of the CCC, the commissioners ratified a stipulated agreement resolving the related investigation pursuant to which TILT has agreed to make a $275,000 payment to the CCC Marijuana Regulation Fund.” TILT said it is now positioned to complete the licensing process and increase its retail footprint in Massachusetts with the opening of two additional dispensaries in Cambridge and Brockton following final inspection and approval by the Commission. Both facilities are fully built out.

“We worked diligently with the Cannabis Control Commission to resolve the investigation that has stalled our remaining state licenses for the past two years,” said Santo. “We appreciate the time, effort and professionalism afforded to TILT by the CCC staff and are thrilled to have come to an amicable resolution with the Commission. Since joining the TILT team, I have made it a point to reinforce our focus on building a culture of compliance and have taken steps to build out our compliance team across the organization, making key hires that reflect both depth of industry knowledge and integrity in processes. The conclusion of this investigation marks the turning of a page for TILT and we look forward to serving many new patients and customers in our communities later this year.”

Ayr Strategies

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A new measure, proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, was approved by the California Legislature on Monday and aims to help legal cannabis operators acquire permanent licenses.

According to Newsom’s office, about 82% of the state’s legal operators still hold provisional licenses as of April 2021. These provisional licenses are due on Jan. 1, 2022.

Dealing with the bottleneck

While adult-use cannabis was made legal in the Golden State in 2016, most growers, retailers and manufacturers have been unable to transition from provisional licenses to permanent ones, which need to be renewed on an annual basis. 

This is due to the high cost of auditing operations to comply with environmental regulations, according to a report by the Los Ageles Times.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the money is “essential in supporting a well-regulated, equitable, and sustainable cannabis market.”

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) has signed legislation into law, House Bill 391, repealing the state’s ban on herbal cannabis for medically authorized patients.

The new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2022, will for the first time allow state-registered patients to obtain “raw or crude” cannabis for the purpose of “inhalation.” The state’s access program currently limits patients to non-inhaled forms of cannabis, like infused oils.

Beginning next year, registered medical cannabis patients will be able to purchase up to two and a half ounces of medical cannabis flower per 14 day period from licensed providers.

Similar legislation legalizing medical cannabis flower was enacted in Minnesota earlier this year. Louisiana and Minnesota were among the only states barring medical cannabis patients from accessing flower.

Governor John Bel Edwards (D) also signed legislation into law last week removing the threat of jail time for low-level marijuana possession offenses. The reduced penalties law takes effect on August 1, 2021.

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Backers of Missouri's successful 2018 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana say they plan to unveil their next effort — an initiative petition targeting the 2022 ballot to legalize recreational use — by the end of June.

The timing will allow signature collection to begin in August, says John Payne, though he declined to specify details on possession and cultivation limits while the campaign's drafting committee is still finalizing the petition.

With Missouri dispensaries opening across the state, Payne says he's confident that residents are ready to expand cannabis legalization. If the measure is passed, Missouri would join fourteen states that have legalized recreational marijuana — including its neighbor Illinois, which Newsweek reports is on pace to finish the year with more than $1 billion in cannabis sales.

According to Payne, it was local polling in 2019 that showed "a strong majority that supports legalizing the adult use of marijuana" — and which motivated the creation of Missourians For A New Approach. The campaign attempted to repeat the success of 2018 by placing a question on the November 2020 ballot, one asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would effectively treat cannabis the way the law treats alcohol.

Payne, who served as the 2020 initiative's campaign manager, says the surprising level of public support for adult-use cannabis was borne out in the streets — at least, initially.

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Fraud charges have been laid against CannTrust Holdings Inc.’s former chief executive Peter Aceto and two former directors, all of whom face possible jail time of up to five years if found guilty in a sweeping quasi-criminal case led by the Ontario Securities Commission.

Company co-founder and former board chair Eric Paul and former director Mark Litwin are also charged with insider trading following a months-long investigation by Canada’s largest capital markets regulator. The OSC moved in following blockbuster revelations in the summer of 2019 that a Health Canada inspection of the publicly traded company uncovered unlicensed cannabis growing at its Pelham, Ont. facility.

 
 
 

The three men are facing a total of more than a dozen counts that include allegations of making misleading disclosure to investors in a case that will be prosecuted in the Ontario Court of Justice due to its quasi-criminal nature, rather than before an OSC tribunal as a civil matter. This marks the first time the commission has gone after a public company over disclosure using its quasi-criminal powers.

Quasi-criminal offences such as fraud and insider trading carry penalties including jail terms of up to five years less a day and fines of up to $5 million for each conviction.

In a statement Tuesday laying out the charges, the OSC said the allegations “relate to efforts to conceal the illegal growing of cannabis at CannTrust over a 10-month period in 2018 and 2019.”

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Proposed legislation will likely prohibit hemp products from containing more than .3% of any kind of THC, including delta-8. This will make the market for such products very small, or non-existent.

For a state that pioneered medical cannabis and was a relatively early adopter of recreational cannabis (cannabis is defined only as marijuana here and not hemp), California is among the worst states in the union when it comes to sensible hemp-derived CBD policy. So it should surprise absolutely nobody that in legislation that’s designed to “legalize” CBD (AB-45 and SB-235), the state is now coming for delta-8 THC.

Before explaining what delta-8’s fate may be, I’ll provide a brief CliffsNotes for how bad California has handled CBD:

2018: California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a FAQ on its website in July 2018 taking the position that CBD ingestibles were unlawful (check out an analysis of mine on those FAQs here). Over the next few years (according to a bill analysis accompanying AB-45, CDPH issued 13 notices of violation, 7 voluntary condemnation and destruction regulatory letters, and 9 embargoes in the wake of this–all without ever creating a real regulation! Local departments of public health were also active in enforcement.2019: California tried but failed to pass AB-228, which would have legalized CBD.2020: California tried by failed to pass AB-2827 and AB-2028 which were both targeted to legalize CBD.2021: AB-45 and SB-235 are both making their way through the California Assembly and Senate, respectively. I’ve summarized these bills here and here.


Photo by Christina Winter via Unsplash

The second of those links immediately above describes in detail provisions in these bills designed to outlaw any kind of smokable hemp product. I think these bills are long shots. This is in part due to the smokable hemp bans, which are facing huge industry backlash and severely narrow the market for hemp grown in the state, and in part due to general political reasons and opposition from the cannabis industry and elsewhere.

State Governments Are Starting To Ban Delta-8 THC

After years of flirting with marijuana legalization, the state of Connecticut is finally ready to make it official.

Today, the state’s governor Ned Lamont signed legislation that legalized recreational pot use for adults aged 21 and older. The new law will officially take effect on July 1. However, retail sales aren’t expected to begin until 2022.

Lamont added his signature to a bill that finally cleared the necessary legislative hurdles last week.

Lawmakers in the state Senate last Thursday approved legislation that would legalize recreational pot use for adults. The vote marked the second time that members of the state Senate passed a legalization measure. Last week, another bill was approved in the chamber before it was amended in the state House and returned to the Senate.

The bill passed the state Senate on Thursday by a vote of 16 to 11, according to local television station NBC Connecticut. The outcome sent the legislation to the desk of Lamont, a Democrat who has made no secret of his support for marijuana legalization.

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When you think of liberal cannabis laws, Colorado is probably near the top of the list. However, according to a recent MJBizDaily article, the Colorful State will likely add restrictions to their marijuana industry, pending the signature of Gov. Jared Polis. If passed, House Bill 1317 would:

 

Roll back the customer purchase limit for high-potency concentrates to 8 grams per day, roughly a fifth of the current limit.Require warnings on packages for concentrates as well as guidance on serving sizes.Authorize a new real-time tracking system to monitor the concentrate purchase limits.Mandate that the state School of Public Health examine existing cannabis research to look for “physical and mental health effects of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates.”Add more rules to ensure patients 18-20 years old have a “substantial” relationship with their physician so it’s more difficult for them to obtain medical marijuana registrations.
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Connecticut is poised to become the 19th state to legalize adult, recreational use of cannabis, now that a long-awaited bill has cleared the General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont has said he'll sign it into law. While it will be legal as of July 1 for adults 21 years and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces (42.5 grams) of marijuana, it's likely going to take at least a year before an industry is up and running.

Here's a look at what to expect:

WHAT HAPPENS FIRST?

Beginning July 1, the bill allows individuals age 21 and older to possess or consume up to 1.5 ounces (42.5 grams) of "cannabis plant material" and up to 5 ounces (141.7 grams) in a locked container in a home or in the trunk or locked glove box in the person's vehicle.

Connecticut's Department of Consumer Protection began working in earnest on new state regulations and licensing applications needed for the legalized marijuana industry a couple months ago. The department will continue those efforts and begin to ramp up the hiring of new agency staff. Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said she expects several dozen people will be hired for investigation and compliance work, licensing and communications. Seagull said the new hiring will be intentionally staggered. For example, once the businesses are up and running, that's when the agency will have a grater need for investigators or inspectors.

BUILDING UPON MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Connecticut legalized medical marijuana through legislation passed in 2012. Nearly a decade later, as of June 13, there were 54,227 registered patients, 18 dispensary facilities, four producers and 1,451 registered physicians. Seagull said her agency plans to use a lot of what's been learned from building the medical program when it comes to creating and regulating a new recreational system. That includes coming up with packaging protocols and labeling to prevent the drug from being mistaken as a non-cannabis product and getting into the hands of a child, as well as lab testing other product safety measures.

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The actual nomination of a Cannabis Control Board chairperson is the first tangible step towards a functioning cannabis industry in NY.

In all of the excitement over New York’s passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), one of the things that often gets lost is that legalization was just the first step towards the issuance of adult-use cannabis licenses. The single most important administrative action item is the formation of the primary regulatory governing body, the Cannabis Control Board (CCB).

The CCB will be responsible for many of the prerequisites to adult-use licenses being issued. Chief among its responsibilities is the creation of the actual application process for both adult-use cannabis licenses and new registered organizations (ROs) and the industry’s rules and regulations, all of which will be issued within the framework of the MRTA.


Photo by gradyreese/Getty Images

The CCB will consist of five board members: three appointed by the Governor and two appointed by the Senate and Assembly (one each). The CCB’s chairperson will be nominated by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. CCB members will be appointed for a term of three years and must be citizens and residents of New York.

Why 2021 Should Prove The Year Of Federal Cannabis Legalization

Almost half of all individuals who are released from jail or prison in Missouri will be reincarcerated, according to the most recent data. In Illinois, where I used to work with people when they came out of incarceration, the numbers are similar.

There’s a familiar fable we tell ourselves: when someone is released from prison, they’ve “served their time” and can now re-enter society and begin their life anew. This helps us free the broader society from obligation when someone ends up back in jail — we get to tell ourselves they’re just a lost cause and can’t stop breaking the law.

The truth is much harder to justify. Society continually fails its formerly incarcerated citizens, often leaving them with very few opportunities to earn a living. 

Many business owners and government entities refuse to hire someone who spent time in jail even for a low-skill job. Unable to find legal gainful employment, many will provide for themselves and their family the only way they can — through illegal means like dealing drugs. 

Then, when they’re inevitably caught, they go back to jail and the cycle continues.

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A Black farmer with ties to doing business in Florida will be at the head of the line for a long-awaited batch of medical marijuana licenses in an application process that state health officials will launch soon, senior aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

The aides told The News Service of Florida that the Department of Health will kick off the rule-making process for Black farmer applicants within “weeks to months” and set the stage for another set of licenses that would nearly double the number of medical marijuana operators in the state.

“It would be awesome if we could get that application, get that license. We are definitely overdue as it relates to that,” Ocala nursery operator Howard Gunn, who is Black, said in a phone interview.

State health officials are poised to begin the application process following a highly anticipated Florida Supreme Court ruling last month that upheld a 2017 law carrying out a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. The court upheld a requirement in the law that medical marijuana operators handle all aspects of the business, including cultivation, processing and distributing — as opposed to companies being able to focus on individual aspects. Tampa-based Florigrown LLC, which challenged the law, had until June 11 to ask for a rehearing but did not.

Part of the 2017 law requires health officials to grant a license to “one applicant that is a recognized class member” in decades-old litigation, known as the “Pigford” cases, which addressed racial discrimination against Black farmers by federal officials.

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State lawmakers in Maine passed a bill last week to decriminalize possession of all drugs. The measure, LD 967, was passed by the Maine House of Representatives on Thursday with a vote of 77 to 62 and was later cleared by the state Senate, according to media reports.

Under the measure, criminal penalties would be dropped for simple possession of scheduled drugs including heroin, cocaine and prescription medications. Instead, those guilty of such offenses would be subject to a fine of $100 or be required to submit to an assessment for treatment of substance use disorder.

Maine’s voters legalized cannabis for adults 21 and older in 2016, and legal recreational sales of marijuana began in the state last year. Possession of other regulated drugs is subject to a range of criminal charges and penalties from misdemeanors for most prescription drugs and felonies for possession of heroin and cocaine.

The bill was introduced by Democratic state Rep. Anne Perry earlier this year. Lawmakers will continue working on the bill to reconcile differences in the legislation, including criminal charges for subsequent possession offenses contained in the Senate’s version of the bill.

“We do need to treat this disorder and law enforcement will be a part of it, but law enforcement is not the gateway to recovery,” Perry said on the House floor last week. “It’s a gateway to isolation and suicide.”

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More than 6,000 cases dealing with the sale or possession of marijuana in New York are about to be dismissed after a district attorney in the Bronx was given the all-clear by a judge. 

As reported by the London Free Press, George A. Grasso, the Supervising Judge of Bronx Criminal Court, “granted the motion put forth by Bronx DA Darcel Clark to dismiss the charges,” the latest ripple effect cast by the state of New York legalizing cannabis 

Judge Grasso celebrated the decision, rendered last week, as “a historic day in Bronx Criminal Court.”

“Our Criminal Justice System has responded swiftly to the actions and intent of the New York State Legislature with respect to over 6,000 pending and closed matters relating to Marijuana charges,” Grasso said in a statement. “This means that thousands of individuals (many who are young people of color) can now go about their business without being under the cloud of a criminal matter. I take pride in our Court’s continuing partnership with the Office of the District Attorney and the Defense Bar in our efforts to effect fair and impartial justice in Bronx County!”

In putting forth the motion in the courtroom, Clark said that he moved “to dismiss 6,089 cases with sole charge of misdemeanor possession or sale of marijuana.” Clark’s office said in a press release that those cases include “2,441 summonses, 1,998 pending cases with

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Executive orders that relaxed cannabis regulations in Colorado during the COVID-19 pandemic expired last week after earlier efforts by state lawmakers to make them permanent failed. The executive order from Democratic Gov. Jared Polis expired on June 10, ending temporary authority for physicians to make medical marijuana recommendations for patients via telemedicine appointments and for cannabis dispensaries to take online payments for customer orders.

Polis issued the executive order on March 20, 2020 in the midst of a stay-at-home order and business closures put into place in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The order was extended several times through 2020 and as recently as May 12, 2021, but finally expired at 11:59 p.m. on June 10.

Under Colorado state law, marijuana businesses are forbidden to take debit or credit card payments for recreational cannabis orders placed online or over the phone, although medical marijuana patients are permitted to pay for orders online. And while state law allows physicians to conduct appointments with patients for a wide range of health issues via telemedicine, consultations for medical marijuana recommendations are prohibited.

The executive order allowing online payments was intended to support efforts to maintain social distancing protocols and no-contact transactions during the pandemic. The telemedicine authorization was issued to protect at-risk patients from unnecessary trips to a healthcare facility.

Colorado Lawmakers Rejected Making Pandemic Changes Permanent

Last month, Colorado state lawmakers rejected a bill that would have made medical marijuana telemedicine appointments and online dispensary payments legal on a permanent basis. Rep. Matt Gray introduced the measure, House Bill 1058, in February.

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Spain is home to one of the best cannabis communities on earth. Anyone that has visited Spain as a tourist as well as the lucky folks that get to live there will tell you that Spain has some of the best cannabis on the planet. 

That is especially true for hash.

Cannabis clubs are common in Spain, with hundreds of them spread throughout the country. Barcelona is home to roughly 200 cannabis clubs alone. 

Many of the clubs are akin to the famous cannabis cafes seen in Amsterdam, and they are very popular for obvious reasons.

A Big Hole in Spain’s Cannabis Policy

Despite Spain’s flourishing cannabis scene, it is lagging when it comes to medical cannabis policy. 

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