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Medical Marijuana Update

A CBD bill passes in Alabama, the feds give up on going after the country's largest dispensary, Oakland moves to expand medical marijuana operations, and more.

[image:1 align:left]Alabama

Last Friday, a CBD medical marijuana bill passedl. Both houses of the legislature have now approved "Leni's Law," which would allow people with seizure disorders or other debilitating medical conditions to use CBD cannabis oil to treat their ailments. Gov. Robert Bentley (R) is expected to sign the bill into law.

California

On Tuesday, the feds ended their attempt to shut down Harborside Health Centers. Federal prosecutors have reached a "historic agreement" with Harborside to end their efforts to seize the Oakland and San Jose dispensaries for violating federal drug laws. In return, Harborside agrees not to pursue further legal action against the federal government. "We are gratified that the government has finally seen fit to lay down its arms against Harborside in this case," said Harborside attorney Henry Wykowski. "The will of the people is for medical cannabis dispensaries to operate free from federal threats of closure. We hope we are on the cusp of a policy change and that the Department of Justice will no longer target state-legal dispensaries for forfeiture."

On Wednesday, Oakland approved medical marijuana expansion. The city has given its okay for a plan to license up to eight more dispensaries a year, as well as creating the city's first-ever licenses for farms, kitchens, and labs. The move came on a pair of unanimous city council votes after 16 months of laying the political groundwork. The council must come back later and approve the changes one more time before they're final.

Colorado

On Tuesday, the legislature approved a bill to help young medical marijuana patients. The legislature has approved House Bill 1373, which orders school districts to come up with policies to accommodate students who are medical marijuana patients. The measure does not allow smokable marijuana at school, nor does it require school employees to administer marijuana-based medicines. That will be left to parents or primary caregivers. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is expected to sign the bill into law.

Connecticut

Last Friday, Ca medical marijuana expansion bill passed the legislature. A bill that would allow children with certain debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana has passed out of the legislature after a final Senate vote. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is expected to sign House Bill 5450 into law.

Illinois

On Monday, the state medical marijuana board okayed new health conditions. The board voted Monday to add 10 qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use. Among them were PTSD and chronic pain, which were rejected earlier this year by Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). The board members also said they doubted the conditions would be approved and complained that Rauner's standards for approving new conditions are too strict.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire's First Dispensary Opens. The Sanctuary Alternative Treatment Center opened in Plymouth last Saturday. It's the first dispensary in the state to open for business. It only took nearly three years after the state's medical marijuana law was approved for this to happen.

Ohio

On Tuesday, legislators revealed that their medical marijuana bill won'[t allow smoking. Vaping is okay, but toking is not under House Bill 523, the bill being considered by the legislature. The bill would also bar home cultivation. Proposed ballot initiatives, however, would allow both smoking and home cultivation, so the legislature's effort to undercut initiatives by passing its own bill may still not be enough to blunt the popular measures.

 

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



Chronicle AM: CA Legalization Init Hands in Plenty of Signatures, CT Passes Sweeping Opioids Bill, More... (5/4/16)

Californians will have a chance to vote on marijuana legalization this year, Oakland moves ahead with medical marijuana expansion, Connecticut passes a sweeping bill aimed at the opioid crisis, and more.

[image:1 align:right]Marijuana Policy

California AUMA Legalization Initiative Hands in Signatures. Supporters of the Sean Parker-backed Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) legalization initiative handed in some 600,000 signatures Tuesday. They only need 365,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. It looks very much like California will vote on legalizing marijuana this fall. Under the AUMA, adults 21 and over could possess and transport up to an ounce and grow up to six plants. The AUMA would also create a system of licensed and regulated marijuana cultivation and commerce.

After Killing Legalization, Vermont House Approves Move to Develop System to Regulate Legal Marijuana. Legalization is dead for this year, but the House Tuesday voted to approve a measure that would begin the development of system to regulate legal adult marijuana use. The House approved House Bill 858 after amending it to include language establishing a commission to "propose a comprehensive regulatory and revenue structure that establishes controlled access to marijuana in a manner that, when compared to the current illegal marijuana market, increases public safety and reduces harm to public health." The commission would be required to provide its recommendations to the legislature by the end of the year.

Medical Marijuana

Oakland Approves Medical Marijuana Expansion. The city has given its okay for a plan to license up to eight more dispensaries a year, as well as creating the city's first-ever licenses for farms, kitchens, and labs. The move came on a pair of unanimous city council votes after 16 months of laying the political groundwork. The council must come back later and approve the changes one more time before they're final.

Colorado Legislature Approves Bill to Help Young Medical Marijuana Patients. The legislature has approved House Bill 1373, which orders school districts to come up with policies to accommodate students who are medical marijuana patients. The measure does not allow smokeable marijuana at school, nor does it require school employees to administer marijuana-based medicines. That will be left to parents or primary caregivers. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is expected to sign the bill into law.

Ohio Medical Marijuana Bill Won't Allow Smoking. Vaping is okay, but toking is not under House Bill 523, the bill being considered by the legislature. The bill would also bar home cultivation. Proposed ballot initiatives, however, would allow both smoking and home cultivation, so the legislature's effort to undercut initiatives by passing its own bill may still not be enough to blunt the popular measures.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Connecticut Legislature Approves Sweeping Opioids Bill. The state Senate Tuesday passed comprehensive opioid legislation that would put a one-week cap on first-time opioid prescriptions to treat acute pain. The bill would also require localities to ensure that first responders have access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, limit liability for health care providers who administer naloxone, and strengthen the state's prescription monitoring system. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is expected to sign it shortly. 



Feds Give Up on Effort to Seize Nation's Largest Medical Marijuana Dispensary [FEATURE]

This article was produced in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.

In a stunning victory for California's marijuana industry, federal prosecutors have agreed to end their years-long effort to close and seize Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the nation's largest dispensary with more than 100,000 patients.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Harborside broke the news with a press release Tuesday, followed up by a press conference attended by Oakland officials who have stood by the dispensary since then-US Attorney Melinda Haag went after in 2012.

The effort to shut down Harborside was part of a broader offensive against the state's medical marijuana industry. Prosecutions and threats of prosecutions forced more than 500 dispensaries to shut down, but Harborside stood firm, didn't fold, and fought hard against the federal moves to seize its properties.

"When US Attorney Melinda Haag first filed suit to seize the property Harborside is located in, I vowed we would never abandon our patients ... and predicted Harborside would outlast the efforts to close us down," Harborside Executive Director Steve DeAngelo said in the statement. "Today, thanks to the deep support of our community and our elected officials, and the skill and determination of our legal counsel, that prediction has come true."

"It’s a great day for Oakland and for all of California," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said at the press conference. "The federal government isn’t going to waste tax dollars trying to frustrate the desires of Californians to have safe access to medical cannabis."

Harborside also stood firm because it had the money to do so. The dispensary, which also operates a facility in San Jose, brings in about $25 million a year from medical marijuana sales and was able to hire the finest legal talent in attorney Henry Wykowski.

"We are gratified that the government has finally seen fit to lay down its arms against Harborside in this case," Wykowski said. "The will of the people is for medical cannabis dispensaries to operate free from federal threats of closure. We hope we are on the cusp of a policy change and that the Department of Justice will no longer target state-legal dispensaries for forfeiture."

But Harborside's success also made it an appealing target for US Attorney Haag. In July 2012, she filed a civil forfeiture action against Harborside, claiming it violated federal drug laws.

"The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need," Haag wrote

Still, Harborside counted on local support, and got it in spades. In October 2012, the city of Oakland sued the federal government in a bid to block the Justice Department from seizing the dispensary's properties. The city argued that shutting down Harborside would harm its patients and force them into the black market to get their medicine.

Between then and now, Harborside won a series of legal victories that allowed it to stay open and avoid eviction, but the city's lawsuit was ultimately rejected by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals last August. In the meantime, though, developments at the federal level worked in Harborside's favor. In 2014, Congress approved an amendment by California Congressmen Sam Farr (D) and Dana Rohrabacher (R) that blocks the Justice Department from using federal funds to go after medical marijuana programs in states where it is legal. That amendment was reauthorized last year.

The US Attorney's Office for Northern California has not commented on the decision to drop the case, but the different federal landscape most likely played a key role.

Oakland politicians praised the move.

"Today’s decision by the U.S. attorney is a victory for health care access," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who represents Oakland and pressed for the DOJ to drop the case against Harborside. "For decades, Harborside has helped ensure members of our community can access their medicine. It’s past time for the federal government to stop standing between these patients and their medicine."

"Harborside Health Center has been a strong positive presence in Oakland, both for the patients they serve, the workers they employ, and for the vital public services that are supported by their tax revenues," said Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. "I am glad that Oakland’s work on the federal case helped keep Harborside open during this dispute, and heartened to know that the threat against them is now removed."

The federal war on medical marijuana in California appears to be ending with a whimper, not a bang. 



Relative Addictive Properties of Various Commonly Used Drugs

relative dangers and addictive properties of various drugs
Source: Dr. Jack E. Henningfield, Ph.D. for NIDA. Reported by: Philip J. Hilts, New York Times, Aug. 2, 1994 "Is Nicotine Addictive? It Depends on Whose Criteria You Use."
Image courtesy of Drug War Facts.

Medical Marijuana News Update

Marijuana is medicine for millions of patients around the US. Click here for medical marijuana news. Federal opposition persists in spite of successful medical marijuana programs in several states. States, cities moving to allow medical use by those in need.

For more information on medical marijuana and other drug policy reform issues, check out the Common Sense for Drug Policy. For the facts about medical marijuana, check out Drug War Facts: Medical Marijuana, and this CSDP public service ad on medical cannabis to learn more.


For The Latest News Check Out:

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Americans For Safe Access

Media Awareness Project

Drug Reform Coordination Network


Support The Campaign!

Support the Coalition campaign! To make a tax-deductible donation click here.


Get Active!

Help make sure that patients can access medical cannabis safely and legally. Americans for Safe Access maintains this terrific Take Action page on their site to help you decide what actions you can take. Common Sense for Drug Policy also maintains this organizers' toolkit on their website.


Meet The Patients

The US Justice Department continues to stand between patients and their medicine. Click here to meet some of the patients and read their stories, and learn why this issue is so important.


The drug war lies on a foundation of myth. Learn the truth. Get the facts. Drug War Facts is your premier information source, offering uptodate information with full citations to aid in further research. Individual sections as well as full edition available electronically at DrugWarFacts.org. Get the facts about medical marijuana, prisons, drug treatment, syringe exchange, and more.
Help spread the word! Put a Drug War Facts banner on YOUR website. Click here for more info.


Marijuana Is Safe, Effective Medicine

Cannabis, or marijuana as it is often called when referring to the drug form of the plant, is an effective medicine that is relatively safer than many commonly-used pharmaceutical products. In the last several decades US doctors and patients have been denied legal access to this substance. Click here to read this well-researched article about the medical benefits of cannabis and learn more about its uses.


Get Informed!

Get the facts about medical cannabis from Drug War Facts.
NORML's website provides a great deal of useful medical cannabis information. California NORML maintains this list of CA medical cannabis resources. Access hundreds of articles on medical cannabis from the popular press.


The US Justice Department is pressing forward with an aggressive campaign to prosecute medical marijuana offenders in spite of California's medical marijuana law (Prop 215) and in defiance of efforts by local officials to support legal medicine for patients. Targets have included prominent medical marijuana patients groups, caregivers, and individual patients attempting to grow medicine for themselves.... Click here for more.


Top Stories On The Web

US CA: Pot Backers Claim Ballot Goal

Los Angeles Times, 04 May 2016 - High- Profile Coalition Will Submit 600,000 Signatures to Give Voters a Chance to Legalize Marijuana. SACRAMENTO - A measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use in California appears headed for the Nov. 8 ballot.

US OH: Newest Pot Bill Would Bar Smoking

Columbus Dispatch, 04 May 2016 - Ohioans could not legally smoke medical marijuana under a revamped proposal being rolled out today by state legislators. Those with a prescription for medical marijuana would be allowed to use vaporization or other inhalant devices.

US CA: Column: Alameda County Warms To The Green Rush

East Bay Express, 04 May 2016 - Fresh off a ban on all medical cannabis cultivation, it's now one of the first local governments to awaken to new state laws and the industry's revenue potential. California's counties are sleeping giants when it comes to medical marijuana, but Alameda County is beginning to stir.

US OR: Jackson County Company Among First to Win Recreational

The Mail Tribune, 04 May 2016 - Jackson County Company Among First Eight Licensees A Jackson County company is among the first eight businesses statewide to receive a coveted recreational marijuana growing license from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

US: Walgreens Cannabis Post Creates Buzz

Chicago Tribune, 03 May 2016 - Pharmacy Chain Says Info on Blog Not Endorsement A recent post on Walgreens' blog raised eyebrows in the medical marijuana community. Titled "Clarifying Clinical Cannabis," the post, written by a resident pharmacist at Walgreens and the University of Illinois at Chicago, isn't an endorsement.

CN BC: City Fines 44 Pot Dispensaries

Metro, 03 May 2016 - Crackdown a Waste of Time and Resources: Councillor Vancouver city inspectors have issued violation tickets to 44 medical marijuana dispensaries since its enforcement began in full force over the weekend.

CN BC: Victoria Could Allow 'Edibles' At Cannabis Dispensaries

Globe and Mail, 03 May 2016 - The City of Victoria is considering rules for its illegal cannabis dispensaries that would be more permissive than Vancouver's landmark bylaw, permitting the sale of controversial "edibles" and allowing pot shops to be located closer to schools. Medical marijuana advocates in the provincial capital praised the draft rules for the city's 32 existing dispensaries, which will be voted on by council later this week. The new proposal comes as officials in Vancouver began cracking down on dispensaries, handing out tickets to nearly two dozen shops over the weekend.

US MA: Little Oversight, Lots of Success for Marijuana

Boston Globe, 03 May 2016 - One delivery service offers gluten-free marijuana brownies. Another promises a free marijuana-laced lollipop with each order. A third touts trained "caregivers" and delivery until 4 a.m. These marijuana delivery services - the objects of an unsuccessful crackdown by Massachusetts health officials two years ago - were expected to fade away once the first state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries opened last year. Instead, they have proliferated.

CN ON: Medical Pot Dispensaries Becoming A Growth Industry

Toronto Star, 02 May 2016 - Toronto planning crackdown amid retail marijuana 'free-for-all' The Queens of Cannabis owners wanted their bright and airy Bloor St. W. shop to have a "healing atmosphere" distinct from dozens of other marijuana dispensaries springing up, almost daily, across Toronto.

Medical Marijuana

Courtesy of Drug War Facts, a project of Common Sense for Drug Policy.

  1. Since 1996, ten states have legalized medical marijuana use: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ME, NV, OR, VT and WA. Eight of the ten did so through the initiative process, Hawaii's law was enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor in 2000, and Vermont's was enacted by the legislature and passed into law without the governor's signature in May 2004.

    Source:  National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), from the web at http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3391, last accessed Oct. 9, 2004.

  2. The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on medical marijuana stated, "The accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation."

    Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).

  3. The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on medical marijuana examined the question whether the medical use of marijuana would lead to an increase of marijuana use in the general population and concluded that, "At this point there are no convincing data to support this concern. The existing data are consistent with the idea that this would not be a problem if the medical use of marijuana were as closely regulated as other medications with abuse potential." The report also noted that, "this question is beyond the issues normally considered for medical uses of drugs, and should not be a factor in evaluating the therapeutic potential of marijuana or cannabinoids."

    Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).

  4. In the Institute of Medicine's report on medical marijuana, the researchers examined the physiological risks of using marijuana and cautioned, "Marijuana is not a completely benign substance. It is a powerful drug with a variety of effects. However, except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications."

    Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).

  5. The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on medical marijuana examined the question of whether marijuana could diminish patients' immune system - an important question when considering marijuana use by AIDS and cancer patients. The report concluded that, "the short-term immunosuppressive effects are not well established but, if they exist, are not likely great enough to preclude a legitimate medical use."

    Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).

  6. "Conclusions: Smoked and oral cannabinoids did not seem to be unsafe in people with HIV infection with respect to HIV RNA levels, CD4+ and CD8+ cell counts, or protease inhibitor levels over a 21-day treatment."

    Source:  Abrams, Donald I., MD, et al., "Short-Term Effects of Cannabinoids in Patients with HIV-1 Infection - A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial," Annals of Internal Medicine, Aug. 19, 2003, Vol. 139, No. 4 (American College of Physicians), p. 258.

  7. "This study provides evidence that short-term use of cannabinoids, either oral or smoked, does not substantially elevate viral load in individuals with HIV infection who are receiving stable antiretroviral regimens containing nelfinavir or indinavir. Upper confidence bounds for all estimated effects of cannabinoids on HIV RNA level from all analyses were no greater than an increase of 0.23 log10 copies/mL compared with placebo. Because this study was randomized and analyses were controlled for all known potential confounders, it is very unlikely that chance imbalance on any known or unknown covariate masked a harmful effect of cannabinoids. Study participants in all groups may have been expected to benefit from the equivalent of directly observed antiretroviral therapy, as well as decreased stress and, for some, improved nutrition over the 25-day inpatient stay."

    Source: Abrams, Donald I., MD, et al., "Short-Term Effects of Cannabinoids in Patients with HIV-1 Infection - A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial," Annals of Internal Medicine, Aug. 19, 2003, Vol. 139, No. 4 (American College of Physicians), p. 264.

  8. "Nevertheless, when considering all 15 studies (i.e., those that met both strict and more relaxed criteria) we only noted that regular cannabis users performed worse on memory tests, but that the magnitude of the effect was very small. The small magnitude of effect sizes from observations of chronic users of cannabis suggests that cannabis compounds, if found to have therapeutic value, should have a good margin of safety from a neurocognitive standpoint under the more limited conditions of exposure that would likely obtain in a medical setting."

    Source:  Grant, Igor, et al., "Non-Acute (Residual) Neurocognitive Effects Of Cannabis Use: A Meta-Analytic Study," Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (Cambridge University Press: July 2003), 9, pp. 687-8.

  9. In spite of the established medical value of marijuana, doctors are presently permitted to prescribe cocaine and morphine - but not marijuana.

    Source: The Controlled Substances Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.

  10. Organizations that have endorsed medical access to marijuana include: the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians; American Bar Association; American Public Health Association; American Society of Addiction Medicine; AIDS Action Council; British Medical Association; California Academy of Family Physicians; California Legislative Council for Older Americans; California Medical Association; California Nurses Association; California Pharmacists Association; California Society of Addiction Medicine; California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; Colorado Nurses Association; Consumer Reports Magazine; Kaiser Permanente; Lymphoma Foundation of America; Multiple Sclerosis California Action Network; National Association of Attorneys General; National Association of People with AIDS; National Nurses Society on Addictions; New Mexico Nurses Association; New York State Nurses Association; New England Journal of Medicine; and Virginia Nurses Association.

  11. A few of the editorial boards that have endorsed medical access to marijuana include: Boston Globe; Chicago Tribune; Miami Herald; New York Times; Orange County Register; and USA Today.

  12. Many organizations have favorable positions (e.g., unimpeded research) on medical marijuana. These groups include: The Institute of Medicine, The American Cancer Society; American Medical Association; Australian Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health; California Medical Association; Federation of American Scientists; Florida Medical Association; and the National Academy of Sciences.

  13. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 established five categories, or "schedules," into which all illicit and prescription drugs were placed. Marijuana was placed in Schedule I, which defines the substance as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. To contrast, over 90 published reports and studies have shown marijuana has medical efficacy.

    Source: The Controlled Substances Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.; Common Sense for Drug Policy, Compendium of Reports, Research and Articles Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Medical Marijuana, Vol. I & Vol. II (Falls Church, VA: Common Sense for Drug Policy, March 1997).

  14. The U.S. Penal Code states that any person can be imprisoned for up to one year for possession of one marijuana cigarette and imprisoned for up to five years for growing a single marijuana plant.

    Source: The Controlled Substances Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.

  15. On September 6, 1988, the Drug Enforcement Administration's Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young, ruled:
    "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known....[T]he provisions of the [Controlled Substances] Act permit and require the transfer of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance."

    Source: US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency, "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition," [Docket #86-22] (September 6, 1988), p. 57.

  16. The DEA's Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young concluded: "In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care."

    Source: US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency, "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition," [Docket #86-22], (September 6, 1988), p. 57.

  17. Between 1978 and 1997, 35 states and the District of Columbia passed legislation recognizing marijuana's medicinal value.
    States include: AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, IA, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WV, and WI.

For additional research on medical marijuana, see this excellent analysis of medical marijuana research by Common Sense for Drug Policy President Kevin B. Zeese and this update from Common Sense for Drug Policy, as well as the Drug War Facts section on marijuana.

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