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PPIC Poll: Prop 19 Behind 49% to 44%

Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in California, has lost support and is now trailing, according to poll results released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). The landline and cell phone poll of 2,002 adults surveyed between October 10 and 17 has Prop 19 losing, 49% to 44%, with 7% undecided.

The numbers for Prop 19 are down eights from PPIC's September poll, which had it winning with 52%. But they are almost the mirror image of SurveyUSA poll also released Wednesday that showed Prop 19 leading 48% to 44%.

In the new PPIC poll, the initiative lost significant support among independents (from 65% to 40%) and Latinos (63% to 42%), and among almost all demographic groups. Whites are now more likely to oppose the support Prop 19 by a thin margin, a reversal from last month.

This poll is the fifth of 15 polls taken this year to show Prop 19 trailing. Ten others had it ahead, but only four of them had it at 50% or over, and the last one to do so was last month's PPIC poll. According to the Talking Points Memo Polltracker, the average of all polls has Prop 19 leading 46.8% to 44.5%.  As of publication time, it had not been updated with Wednesday's two polls, but in terms of the poll averages, they would be a wash.

This is going to get very tense for the next 12 days.

CA
United States

SurveyUSA: Prop 19 Ahead 48% to 44%

Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in California, is maintaining a narrow lead, according to poll results released Wednesday by SurveyUSA. The poll of 621 likely and actual voters (early voting started two weeks ago) was taken between Friday and Sunday and had the initiative leading 48% to 44%, with 8% undecided.

[Editor's Note: A Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday night had contrary results. It was too late for this week's Chronicle, but you can read about it here.]

 

Election Day not far away
The findings are roughly in line with more than a dozen other polls taken on Prop 19 this year, all but four of which have the measure leading. According to the Talking Points Memo Polltracker, the average of all polls has Prop 19 leading 46.8% to 44.5%. The polltracker, however, has not been updated with this latest SurveyUSA poll. Once it is, support will increase slightly, while opposition will decrease slightly.

SurveyUSA has done six polls on Prop 19, and they show support declining slightly from 50% in the earliest surveys. They also show opposition rising slightly. It was at 40% in July, peaked at 43% in September, then declined to 41% early this month before rising to 44% in the current poll.

With a four percent margin of error, this latest SurveyUSA poll shows a very tight race indeed. With undecideds beginning a not unexpected peeling off toward a "no" vote, voter turnout is going to be key to victory on November 2.

CA
United States

Fox News Poll: Prop 19 Marijuana Initiative in Dead Heat

California's Proposition 19 tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative is in a statistical dead heat, according to a Fox News Poll released Tuesday. The poll, taken last Friday, had the electorate split 47-46 against the measure, well within the poll's three-point margin of error.

Fox released no cross-tabs, so there are no breakdowns by race, age, gender, political party, ideology, or location.

The poll showed both Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Democratic US senate candidate Barbara Boxer pulling ahead of Republican challengers Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Other polls have shown strong support for Prop 19 among Democratic voters, even though Brown, Boxer, and most Democratic elected officials oppose the initiative. If a Brown/Boxer surge reflects improved prospects for Democratic turnout, that would be good news for Prop 19, which is favored 2-1 among Democratic voters but opposed by the same margin by Republicans.

Even with the Fox News Poll showing Prop 19 trailing by one and a Reuters/Ipsos poll two weeks ago showing it trailing by 10, the Talking Points Memo Polltracker average of all polls this year still shows Prop 19 leading by 46.8% to 44.5%. Of all the polls conducted since the beginning of September, only the Reuters/Ipsos poll showed it losing. All the other polls showed Prop 19 in the lead, although only one of them had it over 50%.

Get out the vote efforts will be critical between now and November 2, just two weeks from now. To get involved, visit  our latest action alert and follow the links. You don't need to be in California to volunteer for Prop 19; all you need is a phone.

CA
United States

Top Victorian Cop Says Public Should Decide on Legalizing Drugs

Location: 
VIC
Australia
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones said the public should be informed about the costs such as higher insurance premiums and delays to elective surgery because of hospital waiting lists caused by illicit drug use. "There are people in academia, in public policy and law enforcement who are challenging us and saying the current approach is not working. I'm hearing it come up a lot...I'd love to have a debate at some point about legalization" he said.
Publication/Source: 
The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
URL: 
http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/top-victorian-cop-mulls-legalising-drugs-20101020-16sp2.html

Former Surgeon General Calls for Marijuana Legalization

Location: 
CA
United States
Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders told CNN she supports legalizing marijuana. "What I think is horrible about all of this, is that we criminalize young people. And we use so many of our excellent resources ... for things that aren't really causing any problems," said Elders. "It's not a toxic substance."
Publication/Source: 
CNN (US)
URL: 
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/10/18/former.surgeon.general.marijuana/

Justice Dept. to Enforce Marijuana Laws Regardless of Prop 19 Vote

US Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday in Los Angeles that the federal government will enforce its marijuana laws in California even if voters there decide in November to legalize marijuana by approving Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative.

The comments came during a joint press conference with Prop 19 foes, including Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, as well as former heads of the DEA and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Cooley, who is running for state attorney general, has said he believes all medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal.

According to the Associated Press, Holder Wednesday wrote a letter written to former heads of the DEA saying the Justice Department strongly opposes Prop 19 and remains committed to enforcing the Controlled Substances Act all across the country. 

"We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law," Holder wrote. Legalizing marijuana would be a "significant impediment" to the federal government's effort to target drug traffickers and would "significantly undermine" safety in California communities, the attorney general said.

Prop 19 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults over 21. It would also allow them to grow up to 25 square feet of marijuana and possess the resulting harvest. And it would allow cities and counties to permit, regulate, and tax commercial marijuana sales and cultivation.

The Holder Justice Department last year said it would not interfere with medical marijuana in states where it is legal, but the department is apparently drawing the line at legalizing recreational use. Whether the DEA could actually arrest three million California pot smokers remains to be seen.

Holder's Los Angeles press conference and release of the letter to former DEA heads did not go unchallenged. The Prop 19 campaign, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), and the Drug Policy Alliance all issued responses Friday morning.

"As we saw with the repeal of alcohol prohibition, it takes action from the states to push the federal government to change its policies," said former San Jose police chief Joe McNamara on behalf of the campaign. "Passing Proposition 19 in California will undoubtedly kick start a national conversation about changing our country's obviously failed marijuana prohibition policies. If the federal government wants to keep fighting the nation’s failed 'war on marijuana' while were in the midst of a sagging economic recovery and two wars it just proves that the establishment politicians' priorities are wrongly focused on maintaining the status quo," he said. "As will be shown on November 2, Californians are not going to let politicians in Washington, DC tell them how to vote."

"The truth is that the use of marijuana -- a substance far less harmful than alcohol or tobacco -- is widespread in this country and nothing the government can do will ever stop that," said Steve Fox, MPP's director of government relations. "The only question is how we structure the market for marijuana so that it is best for society. Will we have marijuana sold in licensed, tax-paying and regulated stores or will we continue to have it sold in a completely unregulated market that makes it more available to teens? Will we impose standards so that purchasers know the quality and purity of the marijuana they are buying or will we keep it in a far less safe unregulated market? Will we have the profits from the sale of marijuana go to legitimate taxpaying American business owners or will they go to underground dealers and cartels who will pay no taxes and defend their interests through violence?"

Saying that Holder and law enforcement opponents of Prop 19 are motivated by "arrogance, prejudice, and self interest," Fox accused them of putting their own job security ahead of the health and safety of the American people. "Attorney General Holder is not looking out for the health and safety of the American people. He is nothing more than the lead advocate for a never-ending taxpayer-funded jobs program for law enforcement officials in this country. If you look at the opposition to marijuana policy reform in this country, it is driven almost entirely by people whose jobs are dependent on arresting and prosecuting individuals for marijuana-related offenses. The only other prominent group is elected officials who ignorantly turn a blind eye to alcohol-fueled violence in our communities in order to pretend they are 'tough on crime' by going after marijuana users who simply want to enjoy a substance less harmful than alcohol in peace."

"The Attorney General’s posturing notwithstanding, this is 1996 all over again," said Steve Gutwillig, California director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Naysayers said then that the passage of Proposition 215, California’s medical marijuana law, would be a symbolic gesture at most because the federal government would continue to criminalize all marijuana use. Today more than 80 million Americans live in 14 states and the District of Columbia that have functioning medical marijuana laws. All that happened without a single change in federal law," he noted.

"The reality is that the federal government has neither the resources nor the political will to undertake sole -- or even primary -- enforcement responsibility for low level marijuana offenses in California.  Well over 95% of all marijuana arrests in this country are made by state and local law enforcement. The federal government may criminalize marijuana, but it can’t force states to do so, and it can’t require states to enforce federal law," Gutwillig said. 

 

Los Angeles, CA
United States

In Washington State, A Majority Say Legalize Marijuana

A majority of Washington state residents favor legalizing marijuana, but support levels are not as high in Oregon and Idaho, according to a new tri-state poll. Some 55% of respondents in Washington supported legalization, with 34% opposed, while in Oregon, it won a narrow plurality (45% to 43%), and in Idaho, opposition was at 52%, with only 37% in favor.

Mt. Hood, northern Oregon
The poll results are from a survey of the three Northwest states' residents conducted by the polling firm Davis, Hibbitts, and Midghall (DHM) for the Northwest Health Foundation and public radio stations across the region. The poll results have not yet been posted, but DHM's Adam Davis shared preliminary results with Drug War Chronicle during a phone interview Monday.

Davis said full results would be posted at DHM "in a day or two."

The survey asked four generic marijuana-related questions: Has your attitude toward marijuana changed over time (and if so, in what direction); do you support state laws permitting medical marijuana; are you comfortable with a medical marijuana dispensary in your neighborhood; and do you support the legalization of the purchase and possession of marijuana?

While majorities in all three states said their attitudes toward marijuana had remained the same over time, those who said their attitudes had changed broke two-to-one toward more tolerant attitudes.

Davis said support for medical marijuana was at 64% in Oregon, with 30% opposed. Compared to Oregon, "Washington was more supportive and Idaho less so," said the pollster. "There is pretty strong support, generally speaking. It leads almost two-to one."

But having a medical marijuana dispensary in the neighborhood didn’t fare nearly as well. Only in Washington were a majority (52%) comfortable with a local dispensary, with that figure dropping to 43% in Idaho and, surprisingly, only 40% in Oregon.

That last figure could have immediate real world ramifications. Oregon voters will decide next month on Measure 74, which would allow for a regulated dispensary system. This poll finding, while isolated, suggests that voters could turn away from the initiative next month. Get to the polls, Oregon medical marijuana supporters!

WA
United States

LULAC of California Endorses Prop 19 Marijuana Inititiative

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of California has endorsed Proposition 19, California's tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative. LULAC is one of the most prominent organizations representing Latino voters. The group announced Friday it is supporting the initiative.

"The current prohibition laws are not working for Latinos, nor for society as a whole," said Argentina Dávila-Luévano, California LULAC State Director. "Far too many of our brothers and sisters are getting caught in the cross-fire of gang wars here in California and the cartel wars south of our border.  It's time to end prohibition, put violent, organized criminals out of business and bring marijuana under the control of the law."

Proposition 19 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults over 21 and allow them to grow their own in a space of up to 25 square feet and possess the harvest. It would also allow counties and municipalities to permit, regulate, and tax commercial marijuana sales and cultivation.

In a June report, the Drug Policy Alliance found that while blacks and Latinos made up 44% of the state's population, they accounted for 56% of pot possession arrests. The report concentrated on African-Americans because the FBI's Uniform Crime Report data on which it was based does not recognize Latino as a racial category, instead lumping Latinos in with whites. Still the language of the report applies to Latinos as well.

Calling racially disproportionate marijuana arrests "a system-wide phenomenon," the report explained why: "Police departments deploy most patrol and narcotics police to certain neighborhoods, usually designated 'high crime,'" the authors wrote. "These are disproportionately low-income, and disproportionately African-American and Latino neighborhoods. It is in these neighborhoods where the police make most patrols, and where they stop and search the most vehicles and individuals, looking for 'contraband' of any type in order to make an arrest. The item that young people in any neighborhood are most likely to possess, which can get them arrested, is a small amount of marijuana. In short, the arrests are racially-biased mainly because the police are systematically 'fishing' for arrests in only some neighborhoods, and methodically searching only some 'fish.' This produces what has been termed "racism without racists.'"

It's not just the arrests, said LULAC board member Angel Luévano. "In these tough economic times we must find ways to provide new jobs for our people and prosperity in our communities. Supporting Prop 19 will put more Latinos to work and generate cash for our state's budget," she said. "It's our neighborhoods and our families that suffer the most from widespread and ever-increasing unemployment and budget cutbacks for schools and public safety programs."

LULAC of California is just the latest in an ever-growing list of Prop 19 endorsers, including the National Black Police Association, the NAACP of California, and the Latino Voters League. To see them all, click here.

CA
United States

Prop 19's Battle Lines -- Who's For? Who's Against? [FEATURE]

With election day now less than a month away, California's Proposition 19 tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative is leading in most polls (although a Monday Reuters/Ipsos poll showing it losing by nine points sent a chill down the spines of supporters) and is well-positioned to make California the first entity anywhere to legalize marijuana. But what happens in the next 27 days is crucial, as proponents and opponents alike seek to come up with the votes to prevail.

our side
The battle lines are drawn. Lining up in support of Prop 19 are dozens of (mostly) retired law enforcement figures, including former San Jose Police Chief Joe McNamara and former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, as well as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the National Black Police Association; four California US congressmen; dozens of state and local elected officials; local ACLU chapters; the California NAACP; the California Libertarian Party, the California Green Party; the California Young Democrats and many local Democratic groups; the Republican Liberty Caucus; organized labor groups, including the SEIU of California, the Western States UFCW, the longshoremen, and various union locals; clergy, including the California Council of Churches IMPACT and the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative; economist Dr. Jeffrey Miron; and a number of physicians, including former US Surgeon General Joyce Elders. California's burgeoning professional cannabis community has moved Prop 19 forward, with supporters including the Harborside Health Center, the Berkeley Patients Group, and the initiative's primary sponsor, Oaksterdam's Richard Lee.

On the other side
are the usual suspects: The California Narcotics Officers' Association, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California Correctional Supervisors Organization, the California Peace Officers Association, the California District Attorney Association, and local police associations. They are joined by all federal drug czars past and present, past and present DEA administrators, both California US senators and most of the congressional delegation, most newspaper editorial boards, the California Chamber of Commerce, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors (who chipped in $10,000 to Public Safety First, a political action committee created to oppose Prop 19), Californians for a Drug-Free Youth, DARE America, and other anti-drug organizations.

But given marijuana's increasing popular acceptance, legalization foes aren't getting much traction anymore with "marijuana is the devil's drug" messages. Instead, they are forced into tangential attacks: Prop 19 will lead to more drugged driving; it will lead to workers high on the job, they say. It won't earn tax revenues because everyone will grow his own. It will create a "regulatory nightmare." Jacob Sullum at Reason magazine and veteran expert activist and Prop 19 steering committee member Chris Conrad's Prop 19 Fact Check and Rumor Control web page both do a thorough job of debunking those claims.

The opposition so far has been relatively low profile -- because it doesn't have any money. According to campaign contribution data at the California Secretary of State's office, Public Safety First has only managed to raise $178,000 to oppose Prop 19 this year, and more significantly, only has $54,000 in the bank right now. That's not enough to bankroll any kind of media campaign in the nation's most populous state.

That's a change from the past, when foes of drug reform initiatives could count on big money from special interests, as was the case in 2008, when a sentencing reform initiative that appeared headed for victory went down in flames after a big injection of funds from the powerful and wealthy prison guards' union. This year, the prison guards and their pile of cash are sitting it out.

The Prop 19 campaign fervently hopes they continue to do just that. Its worst fear at this point is a last-minute negative advertising blitz, and there is still time for that to happen. That's because, like the opposition, Prop 19 is essentially broke. Although it has raised more than $700,000 this year, it only has $67,000 in the bank. An independent pro-Prop 19 group, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), has another $100,000 in the bank, thanks to surprise donations from Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and the DC-area store Capitol Hemp. SSDP is spending the money between now and Election Day on a Yes We Cannabis Fire Truck Tour doing voter registration and get-out-the-vote work on California campuses.

the other side
For the opposition, the lack of cash means it has to work to try to get its message out. Aside from the former drug czars coming out against the measure, a handful of debates, the penning of some op-eds, and a presence on the web, People First hasn't done much. It has held a handful of lackluster press conferences, which have generated some coverage, and spokesmen are always willing to give good quote when reporters call, but so far, that's about it.

Other than for the lack of cash, opposition from the usual suspects is pretty much as expected. What is surprising is the emergence of a vocal anti-Prop 19 movement with the marijuana community.  From cannabis connoisseur Dragonfly de la Luz and her Stoners Against Prop 19 to Vote No on Prop 19, with its warning of a "Prop 19 cartel," to medical marijuana dispensary operators like HopeNet, the Green Door, and the California Cannabis Association, a fifth column within the marijuana movement is seeking to defeat Prop 19.

Their arguments, which can be read on their web sites, are varied, but boil down to a couple of main claims: that passage of Prop 19 will somehow hurt medical marijuana patients or dispensaries, and that Prop 19 is "not legalization" because it sets possession limits and allows for taxation and regulation of cultivation and distribution. There is an additional fillip of conspiracy-tinged fears that Prop 19 will lead to a corporate takeover of the pot industry. Left unspoken is the economic self-interest of growers and dispensary operators.

Those arguments have been heartily answered in detail by, among others, Chris Conrad (here), national NORML outreach director Russ Bellville (here). Those readers interested in the battle over clauses, intentions, and meanings can compare the two sets of sites and decide for themselves.

"They have said nothing we have not been able to disprove," said Conrad, "but it doesn't matter because they're not reality-based. They're like our own little Tea Party, with a politics of fear and conspiracy stuff, tangents about corporate takeovers, and libertarian anti-tax and anti-regulation notions."

"We want parity and equality, and that means if you sell something, you have to pay taxes," said Mikki Norris, Conrad's long-time partner in life and activism. "The anti-tax thing has inserted itself into every movement, including this one."

Richard Lee giving up on the presentation (but not the initiative)
Tensions boiled over during a debate last weekend at the Cow Palace in San Francisco during the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo, a pot industry trade show. Medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, the primary motivating force behind Prop 19, was subjected to loud heckling and shouting as he attempted to explain why pot people should vote for the initiative. A disgusted Lee finally rolled away in his wheelchair, leaving Conrad to carry on.

Nevertheless, Conrad sees the "Stoners Against Prop 19" types more as a distraction than as serious opposition. "I don't think they're that important, really," he said. "We have some serious opposition, and we're waiting for those ads to come out, we're waiting for the school bus full of children with the stoned driver. We're more worried about that kind of opposition in the works than we are by these people."

For Dale Gieringer, long-time head of California NORML, opposition to Prop 19 inside the marijuana community is overstated, but could impact the election result in a tight race. "It's a tempest in a teapot, a minority of a minority," said Geiringer. "But this looks like it's going to be a very close election, so it's possible they could affect the outcome."

Despite the heated rhetoric and venom on display in recent weeks, both sides should treat each other with respect, he said. "There are too many people casting aspersions about others' intentions in this," Gieringer said. "There are good people on both sides of Prop 19. There are some very dedicated supporters of legal marijuana who simply do not like the wording of Prop 19 for one reason or another."

But not voting for Prop 19 is the wrong choice, said Gieringer. "Some will conscientiously not vote for something that's not to their taste, but I don't think that's a wise thing to do in a close election. This election is about do you favor legal marijuana or not, and all the other concerns can be adjusted afterward," he said.

"They don't want to pay taxes, they're afraid it opens things up to big business," said Gieringer. "Others think it doesn't go far enough, and there are medical marijuana people who are afraid this will somehow infringe on patients' rights under Prop 215 and Senate Bill 420. I don't agree with that analysis."

Neither does Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana defense group, and one deeply rooted in the California medical marijuana scene. As a group concentrating on medical marijuana, ASA is neutral on Prop 19, but, in response to numerous questions from members and other interested observers, ASA has created a Prop 19 FAQ on its web site.

"Does Prop 19 hurt patients?" was the question. "No. While it is possible there will be unanticipated consequences and legal controversy, nothing in the text of Proposition 19 is designed to deny any rights to medical cannabis patients," was ASA's answer.

"Does Prop 19 overrule the medical marijuana laws of California?" was the question. "No. Proposition 19 is designed to, among other things, '[p]rovide easier, safer access for patients who need cannabis for medical purposes.' Although a statement of purpose is not necessarily controlling, courts generally look to it in interpreting the statute's language. The purpose of Proposition 19 is not to overturn Proposition 215 or any other state or local medical cannabis law," was ASA's answer.

"Will Prop 19 allow localities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries?" was the question. "Unclear. Currently, there is no legal authority stating that localities must regulate dispensaries under Proposition 215 and SB 420. Proposition 19 allows for local regulation of medical cannabis sales, but also allows localities to ban such activity. If Proposition 19 is adopted, it is unclear how the courts will integrate both laws with respect to dispensaries," was ASA's answer.

It is worth noting that many California communities already ban dispensaries. Other, more medical marijuana friendly, locales regulate and tax them.

"People are concerned when voters are considering something so similar to a right already afforded them and that a new law might somehow restrict those rights," said ASA spokesman Kris Hermes. "There are many questions unanswered, especially around the issue of distribution. We're fighting right now to prevent local governments from adopting bans against distribution. Given that Prop 19 allows for wet and dry localities, and because we haven't completely ironed out the issue of whether local governments can ban medical marijuana distribution, this could infringe on those rights, especially if courts side with law enforcement against having a patchwork of different rules for different counties," Hermes said.

"There are also entrepreneurs who see their business being threatened by a huge influx of legal marijuana," said Hermes. "For some people, there is definitely a financial interest at stake, but ASA doesn't feel that should be a reason to oppose the initiative."

"What's not so clear is whether local governments might not have more power to tax, regulate, and potentially ban medical marijuana collectives," said CANORML's Gieringer. "The initiative gives very strong authority to local governments to do such things. It's not clear what their authority is now. Many patients feel that, under current law, local governments have to accept collectives and maybe dispensaries. My reading is that that is not required by Prop 215, but might arguably be required by SB 420. But SB 420 is a statute and can be changed by the legislature at any time. I wouldn’t be surprised if they start tinkering around next year regardless of Prop 19. But the stronger the vote Prop 19 gets, the stronger the position of both patients and other users next year."

On November 3, regardless of the intricacies of the arguments over Prop 19, the rest of the world is going to wake up to a headline from California. Is it going to be "California Legalizes Marijuana" or is it going to be "California Rejects Marijuana Legalization?" California voters have 27 days to decide.

If California Legalizes Marijuana, How Will Obama React?

Location: 
CA
United States
If Prop 19 passes and marijuana is legalized, California could become a "test-case" state in challenging federal laws on the matter. But what would this mean, practically? Well, a lot of it hinges on how President Barack Obama reacts.
Publication/Source: 
The Huffington Post (CA)
URL: 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-weigant/if-california-legalizes-m_b_753514.html

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