Medicinal Cannabis

Canada: Medical Cannabis Tax Petition Gains Momentum With Diverse Support

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Almost 7,000 Canadians who share the view that medical cannabis should not be subject to taxation have signed a petition in Parliament urging the federal government to address the unjust tax burden medical cannabis users pay on a daily basis.

With broad support from non-government organizations in the health sector, compassion clubs, marijuana dispensaries, clinics, and federally licensed producers, Petition e-190 has galvanized all corners of a diverse industry, according to supporters.

The petition is open for signature until June 14.

At present, cannabis is the only physician-authorized medicine subject to sales tax. Without insurance coverage, patients already pay for their medication out of pocket.

Adding another cost is a prohibitive barrier that affects Canadians' ability to choose the medical therapy that best manages their symptoms, according to Hilary Black, the petition's founder.

"The diversity of the organizations promoting this petition shows how important this issue is," said Black. "There is a very simple fix and I hope our new federal government will act swiftly to treat cannabis the same way it treats other prescription medications."

Organizations supporting this effort are as diverse as the Canadians who are prescribed marijuana by their doctors. These organizations include:

Dravet Syndrome Foundation
BC Compassion Club Society
Emerald Health Botanicals

Montana: Medical Marijuana Patients Ask Court To Delay Harsh Restrictions

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana patients and their supporters are pushing back against harsh new restrictions on Montana's program -- restrictions so Byzantine, that many providers are closing down rather than try to meet them.

The owners of Montana Advanced Caregivers on Thursday held a barbecue at their location in south Billings. Patients were stocking up on medicinal cannabis because of an uncertain future, co-owner Jason Smith said, reports Matt Hudson at the Billings Gazette.

Smith and his business partner, Rick Abromeit, needed to sell some of their existing stock of marijuana or else risk having an illegal amount once the new law is fully implemented.

The Montana Supreme Court on February 25 upheld provisions of the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, a 2011 bill passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature that, for all practical purposes, shut down the program as it had been run in Montana since voters approved medical marijuana back in 2004.

New York: Pro Athletes To Discuss CTE and Cannabis at New York Trade Show

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A groundbreaking panel will take place at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo), June 16, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The panel will provide a high-level and personal discussion of the benefits of CBD found in medical marijuana and sports related injuries, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) concussions.

Pro athletes from the NFL and NHL will provide frank insight on how legally using cannabis has helped them manage pain, become less reliant on prescription painkillers, and not affect their playing performance. This thought-leadership panel “CTE, Concussions and CBD;” will feature:

• Charlie Adams, NFL wide receiver who played for the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans
• Eben Britton, a NFL guard and tackle has played for Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears and currently is a free agent.
• Riley D. Cote is former professional ice hockey player (NHL) with the Philadelphia Flyers and is currently an assistant coach with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
• Nathan Ross "Nate" Jackson a former NFL wide receiver who played six seasons with the Denver Broncos.

Joining this high-level discussion will be Heather Jackson, CEO of Realm of Caring, a non-profit and advocacy group that provide support services and resources to those using cannabinoid products.

Taking place June 15-17, 2016 at the Javits Center in New York City, CWCBExpo NY is designed for those in the industry as well as for those who are just entering this multi-faceted growing market.

U.S.: NFL Players Line Up To Support Cannabis Therapy For Brain Health

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The devastating effects of harsh, toxic pharmaceuticals are well known, and now a growing number of former and current NFL players are turning to a cannabis extract that experts say stimulates brain function, enhances physical recovery, reduces anxiety and depression, and may counteract the effects of concussions.

Some of those same players, including former Pro Bowl quarterback Jake Plummer, are joining forces in a public crusade to raise money for critical research, and among their primary targets is the NFL itself. "When the Bright Lights Fade," is a video campaign created by the Colorado-based nonprofit Realm of Caring, in partnership with CW Botanicals.

One of its goals is to engage the NFL to change the current narrative - the one laid bare by the Will Smith movie, Concussion, and the tragic, real-life consequences seen in too many former players. The Realm of Caring says it is working with researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania to develop several studies to investigate the impact of cannabinoids on individuals affected by football-related injuries, including symptoms associated with CTE.

The PSA is aiming to raise $100,000 in 30 days to help fund initial studies, with more research planned if results indicate health benefit associated with cannabinoid use.

California: Medical Marijuana Online Marketplace 'Sava' Launches

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Twenty years after California made history by becoming the first state to legalize medical marijuana, its residents will be introduced to Sava, which calls itself "the first retail website focused on selling artisanal cannabis products." Think Etsy meets High Times magazine. Sava will promote quality health and small business, while helping to introduce the benefits of medical marijuana to a larger audience.

The idea occurred to founder Andrea Brooks after a CBD tincture offered life-changing relief from the systemic nerve damage that had left her in constant pain and unable to get out of bed most days. "Cannabis helped jumpstart my healing process and I had an epiphany," Brooks said. "I could make it my mission to help others navigate the world of medical marijuana."

Sava offers more than 60 products to customers of legal age with a medical card. The items — from tinctures, edibles and Shea butter to epsom salts — are tastefully packaged and ethically sourced. Like Etsy, Sava allows its independent producers including Outset Edibles, Alchemy by Dark Heart, Flour Child, Treat Yourself and Skyline Boulevard to highlight their products in a way that best suits their style.

"Andrea brings a compassionate and knowledgeable approach to providing healthy cannabis products to customers…all from the comfort of their own home," says Cindy Pinzon, from Treat Yourself, a company that sells vegan Cherry-almond pop-tartlettes, paleo coconut-banana cakes and whipped body butters on Sava.

California: Medical Marijuana Companies Help Fire-Ravaged Calaveras County Survivors

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Bloom Farms™, a San Francisco based medical cannabis company, has partnered with Magnolia Wellness, an Oakland dispensary, and raised $25,000 this past holiday season for Calaveras County Butte fire relief efforts.

On Friday, March 4, Bloom Farms Director Michael Ray made the donation at The Resource Connection in San Andreas to the following organizations focused on post-event recovery and supporting affiliated local nonprofits:
• Mountain Ranch Fire Relief Fund ($10,000 to support individual and emergency family needs)
• CalaverasGROWN ($5,000 to support soil erosion prevention efforts)
• Mountain Ranch Resource Center ($5,000 to support local community feeding program)
• The Resource Connection ($5,000 to support countywide food insecurity efforts)

The Valley and Butte fires of 2015 were two of the most destructive blazes in California history and were declared federal disasters by President Obama. Californians are already forgetting the devastation created by the fires, but with the cold, wet winter months, many people in rural Calaveras County still need help.

Bloom Farms and Magnolia Wellness worked together to raise $25,000 this past holiday season for fire relief. Bloom Farms provided its HIGHLIGHTER™ cannabis vapor pens to Magnolia Wellness free of charge.

Study: Medical Marijuana Compares Favorably To Conventional PTSD Treatments

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Medical marijuana compares favorably with conventional treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Care By Design, a California-based medical marijuana company which recently completed a survey of 300 patients with PTSD. The survey asked what medications (including cannabis) patients had used for PTSD-related symptoms, and then asked patients to assess each medication in terms of its impact on the hallmark symptoms of PTSD, including anger and irritability, anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep disorders.

Among the key findings of the study, according to Care By Design:

• Survey respondents reported taking numerous medications for PTSD. In order of prevalence: Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, cannabis, sleeping medication, mood stabilizers, narcotic pain medication, non-narcotic pain medication, anti-psychotics, beta-blockers, tranquilizers, and anti-convulsants.
• Half of respondents had taken at least 5 medications for PTSD, and 7.5 percent had taken as many as 11.
• Survey respondents reported that cannabis was the most likely to improve PTSD symptoms—albeit to an unknown degree—and the least likely to make symptoms worse.

Washington: Board To Close Marijuana Retail License Application Window March 31

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) on Monday announced it will stop accepting marijuana retail license applications March 31 at 5 p.m.

The WSLCB had begun processing retail applications on Oct. 12, 2015, to accommodate additional demand and provide additional access points before the medical and recreational marketplace are merged on July 1, 2016.

“We are at the point where the number of highest priority applicants will exceed the number of available retail licenses,” said WSLCB Licensing Division Director Becky Smith. “We’ll meet the retail cap with priority ones and twos that we’re already processing.”

Retail Cap

On January 6, the Board adopted emergency rules to expand the number of retail marijuana outlets to "align the two markets," i.e., preside over the shutdown of medical marijuana dispensaries which weren't able to obtain a 502 license.

Based on staff’s recommendation, the former retail store cap of 334 was lifted to a new cap of 556. The recommendation followed an analysis of the entire marijuana marketplace by the state’s contracted research organization, BOTEC Analysis Corporation.

Priority System

SB 5052, the so-called "2015 Cannabis Patient Protection Act," which was devised by I-502 merchants as a way of eliminating the medical competition -- and then passed by a Legislature grateful for the productive new source of campaign donations, both over and under the table -- directed the WSLCB to issue licenses in the following priority order.

Ohio: Ohioans For Medical Marijuana Submit Initiative Petition To State Attorney General

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Backers of a proposed 2016 ballot measure to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio submitted their initiative petition to the Ohio Attorney General on Thursday with more than 2,000 signatures.

The office has 10 days to examine the official summary of the initiative and confirm the petition contains at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters. The petition will then be sent to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws.

Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November ballot.

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a campaign committee formed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), posted the full initiative text, the official initiative summary, and a Q&A with MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia on its website earlier this week at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“This initiative was drafted to ensure seriously ill Ohioans have safe and legal access to medical marijuana if their doctors believe it will alleviate their pain and suffering,” said MPP communications director Mason Tvert. “The one benefit of not already having a medical marijuana law is that we were able to incorporate the best practices and lessons learned from the 23 states that do have one.”

In summary, the initiative would:

California: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Welcomes Workers' Choice To Unionize

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than 20 workers at the South Coast Safe Access medicinal cannabis dispensary on Thursday celebrated joining the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 324.

Workers at South Coast Safe Access and their union representatives also worked productively with dispensary management to quickly come to an agreement for a historic first contract, according to Derek Worden, president of the dispensary. The comprehensive contract agreed to includes fair wages, health insurance, a retirement pension, grievance procedure, and other protections and benefits for workers.

Officials from Orange County's labor community had been in talks with the dispensary for some time. Formal recognition of the union by the facility avoids the need for a contentious fight over representation. That ultimately paved the way for a comprehensive contract that included fair wages, health insurance, a retirement pension, grievance procedure and other protections and benefits for workers, according to Worden.

“We pride ourselves in being a great employer, a valuable community partner, and a safe access provider for thousands of patients,” Worden said. “We are pleased that our staff have decided to unite and collectively work together to ensure fair wages, good benefits, and the safest working conditions so that our patients can continue to have reliable access to the highest quality, environmentally-friendly, and affordable medicinal cannabis in the region.

Colorado: Researcher To Study MS Patients Who Use Medical Marijuana

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Some multiple sclerosis patients use medical marijuana to reduce their pain and muscle spasms, and a Colorado State University researcher is launching a crowdfunding campaign to study possible benefits and side effects of this long-term marijuana use.

The research project will not involve providing cannabis or encouraging its use; it will simply examine existing users who have decided to treat their MS symptoms with medical marijuana and voluntarily agree to participate in the study.

Thorsten Rudroff, director of CSU’s Integrative Neurophysiology Lab, said local clinicians estimate that up to 50 percent of their patients are using marijuana to alleviate their symptoms.

“Marijuana use may have additional benefits, such as improving motor function, but this is all based on anecdotal evidence,” Rudroff said. “We don’t have scientific evidence that this is working, so we think this research could provide valuable information.”

Rudroff would like to conduct tests on at least 20 MS patients in northern Colorado who are already using medical marijuana and compare them to a control group of the same size who don’t. He said that Colorado, which voted to allow medical marijuana use in 2000, is an ideal location for the study.

“This research can’t be done in many other states that don’t have the same marijuana laws,” Rudroff explained. “Also, Colorado has one of the highest rates of MS in the country. More and more dispensaries are coming, and we need to give patients solid information.”

Iowa: Poll Shows Growing Support For Medical Marijuana; Legislature Considers Expanding Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than three of every four Iowans now favor allowing patients to use marijuana medicinally, but most remain opposed to its recreational legalization, according to a new poll.

Iowans have become more comfortable with medical marijuana, which is now supported by 78 percent of the state's adults, according to the Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, reports Tony Leys at The Des Moines Register. That represents a gain of 20 points in support levels in just three years; support was at 58 percent in 2013.

But most Iowans continue to oppose allowing marijuana for fun. Just 34 percent of adults favor that idea, up 5 percentage points from 2013, according to the poll.

The poll results come as Iowa lawmakers are considering expanding the state's tiny, ineffective medicinal cannabis program. The state's current law, passed in 2014, only allows possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a marijuana extract that isn't psychoactive and helps quell seizures associated with severe epilepsy. It provides no legal method to make the CBD oil, nor does it provide any legal method to obtain or distribute it.

Michigan: New Medical Marijuana Laws In Detroit; 82 Apply To Operate Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Detroit has a new set of medical marijuana laws that officially went into effect last week, requiring owners of cannabis dispensaries to have a license to do business.

The new rules were put into effect after months of back-and-forth, reports Charlie Langton at Fox 2 Detroit. Under the new laws, shops have a one-month window in which to apply for a business license. The city can shut down shops if owners don't begin the application process by March 31, reports Joe Guillen at the Detroit Free Press.

Dispensaries like Dank House, Motown Meds and Your Grass Station were among the 82 businesses that on Tuesday applied to operate dispensaries.

"It has to be regulated with the city; we have to work together," said Wesam Younes, owner of dispensary Chronic Solutions. "Floor plans, site plans, a lot of applications, a lot of information you have to give, a lot of information they need from me."

Detroit is also requiring background checks; owners aren't allowed to have any felony convictions. The new regulations are part of an effort to cut down on the number of dispensaries in the city, currently at around 211 shops.

Ohio: Group Releases Specifics of New Medical Marijuana Ballot Measure

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana could be on the November's ballot in Ohio if 305,291 signatures of registered voters are collected.

The plan, which could provide medicinal cannabis to an estimated 215,000 Ohioans with qualifying medical conditions by 2018, is backed by the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which has been successful with ballot initiatives in other states, reports Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch.

A year after Ohioans overwhelmingly rejected a for-profit plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, the MPP is counting on the differences in the plans to mean success this time. ResponsibleOhio's plan would have handed over control of commercial cannabis cultivation in the state to a dozen wealthy investors who backed the campaign.

MPP will be working locally through a group called Ohioans for Medical Marijuana.

“The Ohio initiative is similar to the medical-marijuana laws in 23 states and the District of Columbia,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the MPP, reports Meghan Matthews at WBNS-10TV. “The Ohio initiative will allow patients with a list of medical problems to use, possess, and grow their own medical marijuana if they have the approval of their physicians.”

California: Marine Pushes To Be First Active Duty Medical Marijuana Patient

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

U.S. Marine Sgt. Sean Major is pushing hard to become the first active duty service member allowed to use medical marijuana.

Major, 25, has had a physician's recommendation for medicinal cannabis use since last October, reports Robert Burns at Fox 5 San Diego. He currently is prescribed more than 20 different pharmaceutical pills.

The wounded warrior suffered four traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) during his seven years of military service.

"I sustained my first traumatic brain injury in 2010 on the Pacific Rim," he said. "I've had one coming back from my deployment."

Major said using cannabis medicinally would help with his sleeping, and alleviate anxiety from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"If I was missing an arm or a leg, you could see that I was injured, but with traumatic brain injury it's almost like your computer is damaged," Major said.

The Marine sergeant said he started researching cannabis after seeing its effect on his father, also a veteran. But he said supports only medical use, not recreational, but military personnel.

"You don't need guys high running around defending this beautiful country; I get that," he said.

Major said he has drafted a non-profit business plan to help other veterans with similar symptoms to be more self-sufficient.

Photo of Sgt. Sean Major: RobertBurnsTV/Twitter

Ohio: Details of 2016 Medical Marijuana Initiative To Be Released Tuesday

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Backers of a 2016 initiative effort to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio will release the details of the proposed ballot measure on Tuesday.

The full text of the initiative will be posted at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative at 9 a.m. ET, and the Marijuana Policy Project, which helped draft the initiative, will hold a teleconference.

WHAT: Release of 2016 Ohio medical marijuana initiative language and teleconference to discuss the details of the proposal and answer questions from members of the media

WHEN: Tuesday, March 1, initiative text will be posted online at 9 a.m. ET; teleconference at 10:30 a.m. ET

WHERE: Initiative text at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative

WHO: Heather Azzi, MPP campaigns analyst
Rob Kampia, MPP executive director
Mason Tvert, MPP director of communications

Georgia: Parents Plan To Publicly Break Law To Get Medical Marijuana For Kids

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With a quick prayer, a group of Georgia parents are preparing to very publicly break the marijuana laws. The room full of parents who have kids they believe can benefit from cannabis oil agreed that they will not be defeated by the recent gutting of the state's medical marijuana legislation.

"The governor has asked us to break federal law; the governor has asked us to break another state's law," parent Vince Seivert said, reports Christopher S. Hopper at WXIA.

Some saw House Bill 722 as the logical successor after House Bill 1 passed last year, allowing Georgia parents to use and possess non-psychoactive CBD oil, derived from cannabis. Parents and patients were hoping HB 722 would make it easier for them to obtain their medicine.

But on Wednesday, the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee approved a gutted version of HB 722 that stripped out in-state cultivation language. In the version of the bill passed by the committee on Wednesday, post-traumatic stress disorder was added back to the list of authorized illnesses that can be treated with cannabis oil.

HB 722 now goes back to the House Rules Committee, where it could be put on the calendar for a full House vote.

Some say the new version of the bill doesn't help enough.

Montana: Supreme Court Upholds Gutting of Medical Marijuana Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Montana Supreme Court on Thursday upheld almost all of the GOP-controlled Legislature's 2011 gutting of the state's medical marijuana law.

The high court, in a 6-1 decision, ruled that the restrictions placed on medical marijuana by the Montana Legislature in 2011 are a "rational response" to the rapid growth in medical marijuana patients from 2008 to 2010, reports Mike Dennison at MTN News. Never mind that the stuff actually works, unlike most harsh, toxic Big Pharma products; that just couldn't be why the program was so popular, now could it?

The number of authorized medical marijuana patients in Montana rose from about 1,000 in 2008 to more than 30,000 in 2010. Dispensaries opened around the state, just as was intended by the people when they, in 2004, voted to approve marijuana as medicine.

One part of the 2011 restrictions that was struck down in Thursday's ruling was the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries charging for their products. But the court left intact a provision that said providers can only have three clients.

The ruling upheld a ban on medicinal cannabis advertising, and also upheld the requirement that any physician authorizing more than 25 medical marijuana patients per year must be reported to the Montana Board of Medical Examiners.

U.S.: Congressman Blumenauer Says Medical Marijuana Could Solve Opioid Epidemic

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) on the House floor Wednesday, addressed the serious opioid abuse epidemic across America, highlighting medical marijuana as an alternative to highly addictive prescription opioids in treating chronic pain.

In his remarks, Congressman Blumenauer called for further reforms to our medical marijuana laws, including making sure our Veterans – who are frequently prescribed opioids – are able to discuss medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option with their Veterans Administration providers in states where it is legal.

Rep. Blumenauer on Feb. 3 reintroduced H.R. 667, the Veterans Equal Access Act, to address this and will once again offer it as an amendment during consideration of the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill this year.

“Last night, ‘Frontline’ on PBS had a compelling documentary on the opioid and heroin epidemic," Rep. Blumenauer said. "We’re now seeing politicians diving in – governors across the country sounding the alarm. It’s being featured by presidential candidates of both parties.

Canada: Ban On Medical Patients Growing Their Own Marijuana Struck Down

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Canadian Federal Court judge on Wednesday struck down regulations restricting the rights of medical marijuana patients to grown their own cannabis. The judge gave the Liberal government six months to come up with new rules.

Judge Michael Phelan ruled in Vancouver that the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations were an infringement on charter rights and declared they have "no force and effect," reports CBC News.

The judge suspended his declaration for six months, to give the federal government time to come up with new rules for medical marijuana.

Judge Phelan also ordered that an earlier injunction, allowing thousands of Canadians with prior medical marijuana authorizations to continue to grow it at home, remains in effect. But Wednesday's ruling did not extend that to cover new patients.

The judge was careful to point out that his ruling doesn't change the laws that make it illegal for Canadians to use cannabis recreationally.

Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, co-counsel for patient Neil Allard, who was behind the court challenge, was very pleased with the decision. "Basically we won, and it was a complete victory," Tousaw said.

"[The Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations] were declared to be unconstitutional and violate the charter rights of medical cannabis patients," Tousaw said, adding it will now be up to the new Liberal government to come up with new rules.

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