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New Jersey DHSS Mum About Medicinal Marijuana Program Conflicts (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2011

CONTACT: Ken Wolski at (609) 394-2137

DHSS Mum About Medicinal Marijuana Program Conflicts

WHO:      New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services

WHAT:     Refuses repeated attempts to clarify conflicting Medicinal Marijuana Program statements

WHEN:     January and February 2011

WHERE: Trenton, New Jersey

WHY:        DHSS has not responded to requests for clarification

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has published conflicting statements about its Request for Applications (RFA) by which non-profit entities may become Alternative Treatment Centers as part of the Medicinal Marijuana Program.  The DHSS has refused repeated attempts to clarify the issue.

The RFA to become medical marijuana providers in the state was published on the official DHSS web site: http://www.state.nj.us/health/med_marijuana.shtml.  This RFA has an announced closing date of 2/14/11.  However, the proposed regulations, published on the very same web site, at "8:64-6.1 Notice of request for applications" note that the DHSS "shall announce a request for applications…for a permit to operate an alternative treatment center by publishing a notice of request for applications in the New Jersey Register."  The soonest this notice of RFA could be published in the Register is 2/22/11, or after the final day of open application period noted on the DHSS web site.

It is an expensive and cumbersome process to apply to become an ATC and applicants do not want to submit an application for a process that was given improper notification.  On the other hand, they do not want to be excluded either because they misinterpreted the rules or because the DHSS changed the rules when it publishes the official version.  Yet the DHSS refuses to clarify whether the RFA deadline is appropriate as noted on its web site or whether a new, initial application period will be forthcoming in an upcoming New Jersey Register announcement.

For more information, contact:

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.  www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618
609.394.2137 [email protected]

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of safe and legal access to medical marijuana.

Location: 
Trenton, NJ
United States

Obama Responds to Pro-Legalization Cop, Says Topic "Legitimate for Debate" (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 27, 2010

CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or [email protected]

Obama Says Legalizing Marijuana and Other Drugs a "Legitimate Topic for Debate"

President Says We Need to Shift to Public Health Focus, But His Budgets Haven't Done That

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, in response to a video question from a former deputy sheriff about whether it is time to discuss legalizing and regulating drugs in light of the failure of the "war on drugs," President Barack Obama said that it is "an entirely legitimate topic for debate" but that he is not in favor of legalization.

The President then went on to say that he sees drug abuse as a public health issue and that a shifting of resources is required, away from the traditional approach of incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders.

"The president talks a good game about shifting resources and having a balanced, public health-oriented approach, but it doesn't square with the budgets he's submitted to Congress," said Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of cops, judges and prosecutors who support legalizing and regulating drugs. "The Obama administration has maintained the Bush-era two-to-one budget ratio in favor of prisons and prosecution over treatment and prevention. It doesn't add up. Still, it's historic that the president of the United States is finally saying that legalizing and regulating drugs is a topic worthy of discussion. But since the president remains opposed to legalization, it's clear that the people are going to have to lead the way. Police officers and innocent civilians are dying every single day in this drug war; it's not a back-burner issue."

The president's comments today, part of a forum organized by YouTube where people could submit and vote on questions, came in response to a question from MacKenzie Allen, a LEAP member and a retired deputy sheriff who did policing in Los Angeles, CA and King County (Seattle), WA. Allen's question got the most votes in the contest, garnering twice as many as the second most-popular question.

The original question and President Obama's response can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB7AK76TF-k.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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President Obama to Answer Top Questions Posed by Public on YouTube Today, Top 100 Most Popular Questions ALL Related to Marijuana Law and Drug Policy Reform (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JANUARY 27, 2011

President Obama to Answer Top Questions Posed by Public on YouTube Today

Top 100 Most Popular Questions ALL Related to Marijuana Law and

Drug Policy Reform

Drug Policy Reform Groups: Obama Needs to Listen to Public’s Concerns and Address Issue

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, MPP communications manager …………………. 202-905-2031 or [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the Marijuana Policy Project, NORML and Students for Sensible Drug Policy have issued the following joint statement:

“Following his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama asked the public to submit questions for an exclusive YouTube interview that will take place at 2:30PM on Thursday January 27. The “Ask Obama” forum promises to take questions from the American people on the issues they find most important in terms of national policy.

“The people have spoken, and the message is loud and clear: the top 100 most popular questions (193,000 were submitted) are on marijuana reform and the harms of drug prohibition, with the first-place question coming from a former police officer who has first-hand experience with the failure of these policies. The questions dominating the forum deal with marijuana legalization, prohibition-related violence, and the fiscal and human consequences of mass incarceration. The American people want to know why our country is continuing the failed, catastrophic policy of drug prohibition.

“Several of the most popular questions also address why our elected leaders have virtually ignored these important issues. This is not the first time marijuana legalization and drug reform have dominated the response to Obama’s call for questions. There were similar results in both 2009 and 2010 when people asked Obama about ending prohibition and using science instead of politics to guide our drug policies. In 2009, Obama’s response was to laugh off the question about taxing and controlling marijuana. In 2010, Obama ignored the questions, despite the questions dominating in quantity and quality. 

“We are encouraged by the grassroots response bubbling up around this issue and urge President Obama to address this issue seriously and thoroughly.”

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Pro-Legalization Cop Gets 1st Place in YouTube's "Ask Obama" Contest (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 27, 2010

CONTACT: Tom Angell (202) 557-4979 or [email protected]

In YouTube's "Ask Obama" Contest, Drug-Legalizing Cop Comes in First Place
Obama Previously Laughed Off Marijuana Questions, But Can He Ignore a Cop?

WASHINGTON, DC --  A video question about legalizing drugs from a former deputy sheriff has come in first place in YouTube's "Your Interview with the President" competition, where users submitted and voted on questions to be posed to President Barack Obama.

Obama is scheduled to answer the top-voted questions today, Thursday, Jan. 27, at 2:30 PM EST in an interview that will be streamed live online at http://www.youtube.com/askobama

The first-place question from MacKenzie Allen, the retired deputy sheriff and a currently a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/copssaylegalizedrugs#p/u/6/Zbz9lnVbrwc

“As a proud American with a career in law enforcement behind me, I find it frustrating that many elected officials pay little or no attention to the serious harms caused by our failed drug policies," said MacKenzie Allen, a retired deputy sheriff who served in Los Angeles, CA and King County (Seattle), WA.  "That's why I took advantage of what is likely my only opportunity to pose a question to our president, via the Internet. I’ve watched for decades as we throw good money after bad and, more importantly, life after life, at a 'War on Drugs' that is waged with counterproductive tactics and an overall flawed strategy. For the sake of those law enforcers who are still bravely on the front lines of the 'Drug War,' I hope our politicians will heed the call to finally discuss a new approach to drug control."

The Obama White House has previously asked citizens to submit and vote on questions via the web several times, with marijuana and drug policy issues rising to the top virtually every time. During a town hall meeting following one such round of voting in 2009, President Obama laughed off a marijuana legalization question, saying, "I don't know what this says about the online audience."

LEAP executive director Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore narcotics cop, responnds, "The fact that these questions keep getting the most votes says that Americans are tired of our elected officials ignoring this important issue. Some of my best friends have been killed in line of fire while enforcing these senseless laws. It's not a laughing matter, and the president shouldn't treat it as such."

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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Border Patrol Agent Fired for Views on Drug Legalization (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 25, 2010

CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or [email protected]

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Fired for Drug Legalization Views

Agent Sues to Defend First Amendment Rights

EL PASO, TX -- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of police officers, judges, prosecutors and federal agents, is standing in support of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent who was fired for saying in a casual conversation that legalizing and regulating drugs would help stop cartel violence along the southern border with Mexico.  After sharing his views with a colleague, the fired agent, Bryan Gonzalez, received a letter of termination stating that his comments are "contrary to the core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication, and espirit de corps."  Last week, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, Gonzalez filed a lawsuit seeking damages.

"There's no doubt that the so-called 'war on drugs' is a gigantic failure and that it causes violence, hurts our economy and forces dedicated law enforcers to risk their lives in the line of fire for a lost cause," said Terry Nelson, a former U.S. border patrol agent who is now a board member for LEAP. "But whether you think we should legalize drugs or not, you have to support the right of brave law enforcers like Bryan Gonzalez to exercise the First Amendment and share their views on policies that impact them on a daily basis."

Gonzalez, the fired agent, specifically mentioned LEAP and its website - http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com - as a part of the conversation that led to his being fired.

To read Gonzalez's complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, visit: http://aclu-nm.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/GONZALEZ_COMPLAINT_FILED.pdf

Previously, in a separate case, one of LEAP's pro-legalization police speakers, Jonathan Wender, sued the Mountlake Terrace, Washington police department after having been fired for expressing his views on the failure of the "war on drugs." In January 2009, the department settled, reinstating Wender and giving him back pay and full benefits.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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Location: 
El Paso, TX
United States

Senator Margaret Rose Henry Introduces Medical Marijuana Bill in Delaware (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JANUARY 25, 2011

Senator Margaret Rose Henry Introduces Medical Marijuana

Bill in Delaware

Delaware Patients Join Montel Williams, Multiple Sclerosis Patient & Former Talk Show Host, in Dover to Urge Passage of Medical Marijuana Bill

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, MPP communications manager ……………….… 202-905-2031 or [email protected]

DOVER, DELAWARE — State Senator Margaret Rose Henry and three Senate co-sponsors today introduced SB 17 in the Delaware State Senate, calling for a common sense approach to providing compassionate care for seriously ill patients seeking relief with medical marijuana. Rep. Helene Keeley is the prime sponsor in the House, with eight co-sponsoring House members on the bill.

            Montel Williams, a popular former talk show host and multiple sclerosis patient, will attend today’s legislative session to meet with lawmakers and the Governor to urge them to support SB 17. Passage of the bill would allow Delaware patients suffering from several devastating illnesses to receive medical marijuana upon the recommendations of their doctors. Neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis is one of the ailments for which marijuana has been shown to provide relief.

            Sen. Henry and Mr. Williams were joined at a press conference today by Joe Scarborough, an HIV/AIDS patient and longtime advocate, as well as Don Brill, a cancer survivor who created the patient advocacy website Delawareans for Medical Marijuana to keep patients informed and provide them with a forum for discussing their experiences.

            “Delaware legislators have been listening to patients and families in community meetings and the stories they’ve heard changed minds and hearts,” Sen. Henry said. “Legislators have begun to understand the very real need for legislative action to allow this treatment option without in any way undermining law enforcement or the prosecution of those engaged in the recreational use of marijuana. This bill carries forward common sense restrictions that are now part of state law and it provides an appropriately strong component that is right for our communities.”

            Williams has been using medical marijuana for a decade to treat the pain and spasms associated with his degenerative disease. “The Delaware legislature should act without delay to make marijuana legally available for medical use,” Williams said. “Every day that legislators delay is another day of needless suffering for patients like me all across the state.”

            Williams noted that 15 states and Washington, D.C. already have passed laws that allow the medical use of marijuana to treat patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, and similarly devastating diseases. “Delaware lawmakers now have an opportunity to ensure that patients suffering in Delaware will be treated with the same compassion as patients fortunate enough to live in one of those 15 other states,” said Williams, who retired from the U.S. Navy as Lieutenant Commander after more than two decades of service prior to beginning his television career.

            Under SB 17, qualified patients could obtain medical marijuana from state-licensed medical cannabis organizations regulated by the State Department of Health and Social Services, which would also issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients who receive recommendations from their doctors. Public use of marijuana and driving under the influence would be prohibited.

            Nationally, the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and many other respected health organizations have endorsed the efficacy of medical marijuana.

            With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
DE
United States

Montel Williams Urges Passage of Maryland Medical Marijuana Bill (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            JANUARY 24, 2011

MONTEL WILLIAMS URGES PASSAGE OF MARYLAND MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL

Multiple Sclerosis Patient and Baltimore Native to Speak at Press Conference to Announce Medical Marijuana Legislation in Maryland

CONTACTS: Morgan Fox, MPP Communications Manager …………… 202-905-2031 or [email protected]

      Dan Riffle, MPP Legislative Analyst …………………….. 202-905-2026 or [email protected]

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND — Montel Williams, multiple sclerosis patient and popular former talk show host, will attend a press conference today to urge General Assembly members to support legislation that would make Maryland the 16th state in the nation to allow the medical use of marijuana. Williams and other patients will be joined by Deputy Majority Leader and physician Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), and Sen. David Brinkley (R-Frederick & Carroll Counties) for a press conference at 4:00 pm, Monday, January 24, in room 302 of the House Office Building.   

            “I grew up in Maryland, graduated from the Naval Academy, and my family still lives in Baltimore today, so I’m excited about the prospect of helping my home state put in place a policy that’s more compassionate toward our most vulnerable residents,” said Williams, whose father was Baltimore’s first African-American fire chief. Prior to beginning his television career, Williams retired from the U.S. Navy as Lieutenant Commander after more than two decades of service. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a decade ago and has sought treatment at Maryland’s Johns Hopkins Hospital.

            The Maryland Senate passed similar legislation last year by an overwhelming margin of 35-12, and this week, Del. Morhaim plans to file a new medical marijuana bill.

            “As a physician, I see this as just another tool in the toolbox,” said Morhaim. “This isn’t about ending the war on drugs – it’s about getting the sick and dying off the battlefield.”

             Sen. Raskin, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer, noted that Maryland law already provides reduced penalties for marijuana possession to anyone who can show a medical necessity, but that patients have no legal way to obtain it and are still given a criminal conviction even if they are successful in showing a medical need. 

            “Maryland law already recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana but, bizarrely, sends very sick people into the streets and alleys to find medical relief and then exposes them to criminal arrest and prosecution for seeking relief from pain and nausea,” says Sen. Raskin. “We need to put the doctor-patient relationship at the heart of our policy and we have done that with the most carefully regulated and defined proposal in the country.”           

            Sen. David Brinkley, a two-time cancer survivor, sponsored the Senate version of last year’s bill and joined with Raskin in leading the bi-partisan effort to pass it.

            Says Sen. Brinkley, “This is a bi-partisan bill because compassion is a bi-partisan issue. If it were my loved one suffering from a devastating disease, I would want every treatment option that could relieve their suffering to be on the table. There should be nothing controversial about that.”

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Location: 
Annapolis, MD
United States

Montel Williams to Discuss His Support for Medical Marijuana in Maryland (Press Release)

 

Media Advisory

         Former Talk Show Host and Baltimore Native Montel Williams to Discuss His Support for Medical Marijuana in Maryland

      Williams Became Medical Marijuana Advocate After Finding It Provided Relief from Pain Associated with his Multiple Sclerosis

 

CONTACTS: Morgan Fox, MPP Communications Manager… 202-905-2031 or [email protected]

                       Dan Riffle, MPP Legislative Analyst…………. 202-905-2026 or [email protected]

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND – Multiple sclerosis patient and popular former talk show host Montel Williams will speak at a press conference Monday in Annapolis in support of legislation that would make Maryland the nation’s 16th state allowing physician-approved use of medical marijuana.

Williams grew up in Baltimore where his father was the city’s first African-American fire chief. Williams is a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis and retired from the U.S. Navy as a decorated naval intelligence officer after more than two decades of service before embarking on his second career as a national television talk show host. In 1999, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and has sought treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Following his diagnosis, he created the Montel Williams MS Foundation, which is committed to raising awareness of the disease and providing inspiration to those who live with MS. Williams has served as an advocate for the compassionate use of medical marijuana in a variety of states that have approved new laws.

Montel will be joined at the Maryland press conference by the chief sponsors of the state’s medical marijuana legislation: physician and Delegate Dan Morhaim, and Senators Jamie Raskin and David Brinkley, both cancer survivors.

Who: Montel Williams, Del. Dan Morhaim, Sen. David Brinkley, Sen. Jamie Raskin, and medical marijuana patients and advocates.

What: Press conference to announce the introduction of medical marijuana legislation in the Maryland General Assembly.

Where: Room 302, House Office Bldg., 6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401

When: Monday, January 24th, 4 p.m.

With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit mpp.org.

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Location: 
Room 302, House Office Bldg., 6 Bladen St.
Annapolis, MD 21401
United States

Philadelphia: City Saving Time and Money with New Pot Procedure (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 11, 2011

CONTACT: Chris Goldstein at 215-586-3483 or [email protected]

www.phillynorml.org

Philadelphia: City Saving Time and Money with New Pot Procedure

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office is calling a new set of procedures for minor pot cases a success and plans to continue with the Small Amount of Marijuana (SAM) program.

Last year the Pennsylvania Supreme Court worked with the new DA, Seth Williams, to make a pragmatic change in how the justice system deals with marijuana possession of 30 grams or less. A new program was created that includes a diversion court appearance, an education class and fees of $200. The major difference is that there is no longer an instant criminal prosecution. The offender pleads to a non-drug related charge that is automatically expunged from their record.

PhillyNORML's Chris Goldstein spoke with Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Joe McGettigan about the new marijuana policy. McGettigan said that the SAM program is working, "Look, certainly this was a much better option than sending all these people into the criminal court last year for misdemeanors," said McGettigan.

The DA’s office provided the following figures related to the SAM program:

June 2010 to September 2010

1636 marijuana possession cases less than 30g TOTAL

 339 bench warrants issued for failure to appear             

1297 marijuana possession cases less than 30g are heard

1025 enter the Small Amount of Marijuana diversion program ( 79% )

81 went to trial

187 statuses continued

4 cases withdrawn

The procedural shift has eased penalties and a particularly harsh process for offenders. For the last two decades anyone in Philadelphia who was caught with a single joint on up to 30 grams was held for bail then prosecuted in a criminal court. This involves a tremendous amount of the justice system’s resources and the expensive procedure was almost unique in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

There are over 4,500 such cases in Philly every year (the largest concentration of pot arrests in PA) so minor marijuana offenses were literally clogging holding cells, bail officer, printing machines, court reporters, clerks, judges and courtrooms. The real world cost savings for the city this year by eliminating those expenses could tally into the millions.The shift also made a significant, tactile change; residents who consume marijuana and run afoul of prohibition laws have a less traumatic experience.

PhillyNORML's Chris Goldstein said, "This was a positive shift for the city. Still minor marijuana possession arrests are increasing and continue a disturbing trend of being extremely racially disparate."

An average of about 325 black men, 50 black women, 95 white men and 8 white women will be arrested every month this year in Philadelphia.

 Link to more information on arrests 

Location: 
Philadelphia, PA
United States

Federal Medical Marijuana Patient/Florida Stockbroker Returns to Montana to Help Save Medical Cannabis Laws (Press Release)

For Immediate Release: January 7, 2011

Contact: Patients Out of Time at 434-263-4484, www.medicalcannabis.com

Florida Stockbroker Returns to Montana to help save Medical Cannabis laws

Irvin Rosenfeld, the longest surviving patient of the four Federal Medical Cannabis Patients in the United States and a Director for Patients Out of Time will be flying to Montana on January 8th to speak before the Montana Legislature for a week. Irvin will be there to educate people of the importance of Medical Cannabis and its true value as a medicine. As a Federal Patient for over 28 years, he has knowledge and experience that no one has in this country which he will share with others. To him, Cannabis is a medicine like any other medicine and should be treated that way. As Senior Vice-President of Investments for Newbridge Securities in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, he also understands the economic aspect and how this medicine creates jobs for thousands of Montanans.

“Montana is being watched Nationally, and what happens in this legislative session could set precedence around the world” states Rosenfeld. “Medical Cannabis Patients are productive members of society. I am living proof. I have been a stockbroker for over 23 years handling millions of dollars on a daily basis.”

“One of the biggest problems in Montana now is, they have had very bad press. The media in Montana has focused its efforts on one specific individual, and that has bled over Nationally. There are some very experienced, professional, caring people in Montana working very hard to care for patients who have went virtually unrecognized in Montana. I know, I have met many of them.”

“My goal is to help educate the politicians in Montana. There are some very intelligent people in Montana, and I am sure they will see the science and facts, and consider what is best for the people of Montana. Montana has a proud history of pioneering. It is my hope they will take the lead, and be the true pioneers for Medical Cannabis, and a shining example of the true value of not only Medical Cannabis but Hemp as well.”

Location: 
MT
United States

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