Illinois Lawmakers Close to Passing Medical Marijuana Bill

by Sativa Galore

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Medical marijuana in Illinois could become a reality this week as lawmakers reconvene at the state house to decide several hot issues before the end of the year.

Skokie Democrat Rep. Lou Lang, sponsor of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, said he is closing in on enough votes in the House to pass the bill, which would create a three year medical marijuana trail program in the state. If passed, qualified patients would be allowed to buy and use up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis during a two-week period.

Rep. Lang says he estimates that his bill is at or near the 60 votes needed for approval of a three-year trial medical marijuana program.

Earlier this month, Rep. Lang told the Northwest Indiana Times this month that 92 of his House colleagues have said they hope to see the bill pass, but are hesitant to publicly vote in its favor due to political reasons.

But now that the election is behind them, Lang believes lawmakers will act in favor of his bill.

“If members vote their consciences, I’ll have the votes,” said Lang. ”This is without any question the tightest and most highly regulated medical marijuana bill ever written in this country.”

The medical marijuana bill is one of several pieces of high-profile legislation that could come up as the General Assembly returns to the Capitol on Tuesday for the annual fall session.

Medical marijuana is allowed in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2012/13461/illinois-lawmakers-close-to-pa...

Illinois Medical Marijuana Vote Delayed until December

Deluded by their nearly unchecked powerlessness to get anything else done in the state, the Legislature manages to retain by default the power to deny citizens vital healthcare as their booby prize possession to prove they are still capable of -- something. We don't need another election in Illinois. We need a revolution of citizens willing to stand up for the majority of ordinary working citizens of Illinois and their interests. There is majority support for this measure, but that's not good enough yet in the Potemkin Village they call Illinois.

SPRINGFIELD, IL (via Reuters) — Illinois will not become the 19th medical marijuana state, at least for another month. The Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday put off a vote to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes because the measure lacked the support for approval, its chief sponsor said.

Democratic Representative Lou Lang did not request a vote on his proposal because he did not want it to fail.

“He didn’t call it because he was short of the votes,” said Lang’s spokeswoman, Beth Hamilton. Lang had earlier predicted the measure would pass if a few undecided members shifted to support.

The proposal for a three-year pilot program would make Illinois the second most populous state in the nation after California to allow medical marijuana. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington state voters decided on November 6 to allow recreational use of cannabis.

Lang said he could try again to pass the proposal when the Illinois legislature meets in early December.

The Illinois bill would be the most restrictive in the country, according to Lang.

Under the Illinois bill, patients would have to be diagnosed with one of 30 debilitating medical conditions, register with the Department of Public Health and have written certification from their physician. Patients would be limited to no more than 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of marijuana every two weeks.

Some Republicans in the Illinois House said they opposed legalizing medical marijuana because it could be a “gateway drug” to abuse of other illegal substances. Others said they were not convinced that the benefits of smoking marijuana for certain medical conditions outweighed the potential negative consequences.

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2012/13522/illinois-medical-marijuana-vot...

Maybe They Should Ask Their Fellow Repuiblicans?

I shouldn't pick on the Republicans only on this. WTF are not ALL the Democrats on board? Half of them are idiots and another half are lawbreakers, leaving a relatively small group who aren't just stupid egg-sucking dogs lapping at Madigan's ankles.

But most Republicans seem to think this is a Democrat idea -- and it's not. Several recent polls show that landslide majorities of Republicans favor medical marijuana and leaving it to the individual states to determine their own laws on marijuana.
Medical Marijuana Laws For States Supported By More Than Two-Thirds Of Republicans, Poll Finds
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/15/republicans-state-medical-marij...
Poll: 74 Percent of Americans, Including 67 Percent of Republicans, Want Obama to End Medical Marijuana Crackdown
http://reason.com/blog/2012/05/16/poll-74-percent-of-americans-including-6

It's too bad that Republicans, like many Democrats, consistently elect people to public office who are dumber and more crooked than they are personally. Why is that? Well, if you're stupid enough to think existing law keeps anyone from getting marijuana for their medical needs, then you're stupid enough to believe this makes a difference to anyone other than the suffering patient. Congratulations, you just might be qualified for a Republican primary!

Really!?!

But seriously, considering the low opinion that the public holds for politicians in general, it might be the smart thing for the legislature as a whole to show bi-partisanship on reforms that significant majorities of the public agree on, like medical marijuana. Heck, they could just solve the whole problem by legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana.

But that would take guts, when what we have in Springfield is an all too large contingent of pompous, self-righteous, jerky-brained bottom-feeders cut from the mold of the very end of the gut.

Heck, outlaw the state legislature, not marijuana. Those folks in Springfield are far more dangerous to the people of Illinois right now than reefer ever was.

Clue for IL Gov't: Drug War Over, Drug Warriors Lost

In a democracy, the law reflects the will of the people, not some tiny elite who thinks it knows what's best for everyone else. While Illinois legislators argue about how to implement a commonsense reform like access to cannabis for medical purposes, something it's still trying to get right after more than 3 decades of effort, the rest of the world is passing us by when it comes to much needed and widely supported legalization.

Poll: Marijuana Legalization Favored in US, Canada

A new Angus-Reid Public Opinion poll (http://www.angus-reid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2012.11.28_Marijuan...) has majorities favoring marijuana legalization in both Canada and the US. According to the poll, 57% of Canadians and 54% of Americans are ready to free the weed.

In Canada, support for legalization was strongest in the Atlantic provinces (64%) and British Columbia (60%), while in something of a surprise, in the US, support was strongest in the Northeast (61%), followed by the West (56%). The US West has traditionally had the highest levels of support for legalization.

In both countries there was majority support for marijuana legalization in every region. The provinces or regions with the lowest level of support for legalization were Alberta (50%) in Canada, and the US Midwest (50%) and South (51%).

In Canada, men (64%) are more likely than women (50%) to call for the legalization of cannabis, while there is no wide gender gap in the United States (55% male, 53% female). The bulk of support for legal marijuana comes from respondents aged 18-to-34 in the United States (65%) and those aged 35-to-54 in Canada (61%).

Two-thirds (66%) of both Canadians and Americans believe marijuana will be legal within 10 years.

While two-thirds (65%) of Americans say their country has a serious drug abuse problem, only 43% of Canadians agree. Still, in both countries, two-thirds (68% in Canada and 66% in the US) describe the war on drugs as a failure.

While both Canadians and Americans agree that the drug war is a failure, they remain unwilling to contemplate the legalization of drugs other than marijuana. Support for legalizing cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, or methamphetamines didn’t rise above 11% for any of those drugs in either country.

The poll was an online survey of 1,005 Canadians and 1,002 Americans conducted November 19 and 20. The results were weighted to ensure a representative sample of the two country’s adult populations. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.

Two US states, Colorado and Washington, voted to legalize marijuana in November. Legislators in at least four more plan to offer up legalization bills next year, while activists in Montana are working toward putting a legalization initiative on the 2014 ballot.

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2012/13579/poll-marijuana-legalization-fa...

CBS Poll: Support for Marijuana Legalization at All-Time High

NEW YORK, NY — A CBS News poll (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57556286/poll-nearly-half-support-le...) released this week has support for marijuana legalization at an all-time high, with as many Americans now saying it should be legal as saying it should not. Some 47% of respondents said it should be legal, while another 47% were opposed.

This poll marks the first time a CBS News poll has shown as much support for legalization as there is opposition. And the number favoring legalization has climbed two points since CBS last asked the question in September, while the number opposing it has declined by two points.

The poll is in line with a growing number of polls in the last couple of years that show marijuana legalization hovering on the cusp of majority support. A Gallup poll last year had support at 50%, while an Angus-Reid poll this week had support at 54%.

And in what could be a warning signal to Washington, the poll found that 59% thought states should determine whether marijuana should be legal, while only 34% thought the federal government should.

Pot legalization had majority support among independents (55%) and Democrats (51%), but not Republicans (27%). It had majority support among young people (18-to-29, 54%; 30-to-44, 53%), but not among the middle aged (46%) or those 65 and older (30%). The poll did not provide a breakdown by gender.

The poll also found overwhelming support for medical marijuana (83%), even though only 29% thought most medical marijuana “is being used to alleviate suffering from serious illnesses.”

The poll was conducted November 16-19 with 1,100 respondents using both land lines and cell phones. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2012/13592/cbs-poll-has-support-for-marij...

IL Med MJ: Pols Fight Over Spoils While Patients Suffer

Proving once again that nothing good gets done in Illinois unless some politicians make sure to get something of value in exchange, it turns out that the last few votes on giving patients legal access to medical marijuana hinge on a small group of the politically connected getting their taste of the pie.

Note I said "legal access." It's not that current law prevents access. Only a deluded politician would make such a claim -- and a few judges deluded by the seductive hubris of ruining lives in the name of supposedly protecting them.

We'd all be a lot better off by letting patients take care of this themselves. And even better off if we just skipped straight to legalization if some idiot Republican thinks the government is going to be testing the DNA of pot to prove whether or not it "legally" came from his campaign contributors...

It's really too bad there's always room for another pot prisoner in the slammer, but so little space for slimeball politicians like these.

via Capital Fax
http://capitolfax.com/2012/11/30/proposed-medical-marijuana-monopoly-wre...

Proposed medical marijuana monopoly wreaking havoc on legalization bill

Friday, Nov 30, 2012

* From the AP earlier this week…

Illinois State Rep. Lou Lang has decided not to call his medical marijuana legislation until next week.

The Skokie Democrat told The Associated Press Wednesday he’s still not certain he has the 60 votes he needs for passage.

He says he has most of the necessary votes but there are “a whole bunch of people who are wavering.” He will continue talking to them over the weekend and try again in the Legislature’s second week of its fall session.

* I did a bit more checking and found something quite unusual had happened. Fox Chicago then followed up…

Supporters of medical marijuana are blaming their latest setback in the State Capitol on two North Suburban businessmen. The pair plans to become Illinois’ largest suppliers of medical marijuana and some claim their quiet backroom maneuvering has blocked passage of a bill to legalize it. […]

Libertyville businessman Jim Merlo told FOX 32 News that his company, “Medponics,” has hired powerful lobbyists in Springfield only because he wants to ensure that when it’s legalized here, medical marijuana is grown and delivered safely to those who need it. Others fear Medponics wants to corner the market. […]

House Republican Leader Tom Cross is a supporter of medical marijuana. He wants to rewrite the current bill after hearing from two top lobbyists about the Medponic system.

“If somebody got stopped by the police, and said, ‘Oh, I’m using — this is medical marijuana,’ you could actually test it and find out whether it was true medical marijuana grown here at one of the facilities, or whether it was not in fact medical marijuana,” explains Cross.

The current legislation sponsored by Skokie Democrat Lou Lang would grant licenses to as many as 59 marijuana growers across the state. Supporters claim that having dozens of small growers, instead of one or a handful of very large pot producers, would avoid the clashes with federal agents that have occurred in other states.

“Every time that somebody has tried to do one of these large growing operations, the federal government has come in and has threatened either the landlords and the property owners with not only arrest but also asset forfeiture,” says Dann Linn, the Executive Director for Illinois NORML.

One of those two top lobbyists used to be Cross’ chief of staff. And I have no idea what Cross is talking about when he says you could “actually test” the weed to see if it was grown at one of Medponic’s facilities.

And considering that US Attorneys throughout the nation have been busting far smaller growing operations, I can’t see how the heck Medponics thinks it can get away with doing this. And if it’s shut down, the entire medical marijuana infrastructure in the state would go down with it.

Life in Springfield.

- Posted by Rich Miller

58% Say Make Pot Legal, Illinois Politicians Still Clueless

National Poll Shows Record High Majority – 58% Think Marijuana Should Be Legal; Only One-Third Would Approve of President Obama Interfering in Implementation of Colorado and Washington Ballot Measures

WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to a national poll conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, a record high 58% of American voters said they think marijuana should be made legal, compared to only 39% who do not. In addition, 50% of respondents said they think marijuana will become legal under federal law within the next 10 years.

A strong plurality (47%) of respondents said they think President Obama should allow Colorado and Washington to implement the ballot measures approved by voters last month to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. Just 33% said they approve of President Obama using federal resources to prevent them from going into effect. Interestingly, support for the rights of states could be higher, but 46% of Republicans surveyed support the federal government asserting its power over the states.

Download the full poll results at http://blog.mpp.org/prohibition/new-poll-record-high-support-for-marijua...

Marijuana possession by adults is scheduled to become legal in Washington on Thursday when Initiative 502 officially goes into effect. A similar measure adopted by Colorado voters, Amendment 64, will go into effect no later than January 6. The new laws in Colorado and Washington make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. They also direct the legislatures of both states to create regulations in order to establish a legal market for businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults. So far, the federal government has not stated whether it intends to use any resources to interfere with the implementation of the new state laws.

The poll of 1,325 voters asked the same question that has been used by Gallup since 1970 to measure support for marijuana legalization in the country. In October 2011 Gallup found, for the first time, a majority (50%) of Americans supported making marijuana legal. Election results and pre-election polls in Colorado suggest PPP’s automated telephone survey might be a more accurate gauge of support for marijuana legalization, perhaps due to a hesitancy of voters to express their pro-marijuana sentiments to live operators, such as those utilized by Gallup.

Statement from Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy reform organization and the primary funder of the successful Colorado initiative:

“These results demonstrate that the American people do not want the federal government to interfere in state marijuana laws. More than 55 percent of voters in Colorado and Washington have elected to regulate the sale of marijuana, rather than have the market controlled by gangs and cartels. The Obama administration should not undermine their rational action by putting profits back in the hands of criminals. Now is the time to respect the people of Colorado and Washington and their desire to opt out of the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.

“The increasingly strong national support for making marijuana legal demonstrates that the writing is on the wall. Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered. The Obama administration cannot stop history. If it interferes in the implementation of these new laws, it will only unnecessarily prolong the chaos of an uncontrolled market. The time for state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales is here.”

http://www.mpp.org/media/press-releases/national-poll-shows-record.html

NJ Medical Marijuana Activist Makes First Legal Purchase

HB 30, the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, is a lot like the New Jersey program. Both are laden down with onerous rules and costs. As a consequence, this NJ patient observed "I am more convinced than ever this is a rich man's remedy..."

On the other hand, when it's the only legal mechanism, you do what you have to do. One can only hope that wiser heads prevail in the not too distant future and, if HB 30 finally passes, outright legalization will soon replace its cumbersome provisions for medical use.

Medical marijuana activist makes his first legal purchase in Montclair

MONTCLAIR — Jay Lassiter has been HIV positive for 20 years, and for just as long, he has been a self-described "criminal" for buying pot to ease the gut-wrenching nausea he suffers because of his treatment.

His criminal activity ended at 2:45 pm today, when he walked out of Greenleaf Compassion Center after making his first legal marijuana purchase at the Bloomfield Avenue shop.

Greenleaf, New Jersey's first alternative treatment center — what the state is calling dispensaries — opened Dec. 6. Registered patients have been seen by appointment only so far.

"This is a joyous day," said the 40-year-old activist who lobbied lawmakers in Trenton to pass the law permitting marijuana to be sold as medicine.

"This will help me manage the disease that will kill me," Lassiter said.

He said he spent about $400 to sample the three strains of the drug Greenleaf sells.

A quarter ounce of marijuana is selling for $110, plus sales tax, according to patients. Lassiter is the first patient who was willing to be identified and to discuss his experience.

All told, Lassiter has spent nearly $1,000 in doctor visits, state registry fees and the drug "before I take my first puff."

"I am more convinced than ever this is a rich man's remedy," he added.

The state charges $200 for registration that lasts two years, although people who get Medicaid or are enrolled in other low-income programs pay $20. Greenleaf is also making discounts available based on the patient's ability to pay.

Lassiter said he appreciated having the opportunity to talk with professionals who know what to recommend people with HIV, and what works better during the day versus nighttime. "It's legit," he said.

© 2012 New Jersey On-Line LLC.
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/12/medical_marijuana_activist_...

German Court Approves Limited Medical Marijuana Growing

It should be noted that the proposed Illinois HB 30 would NOT allow individual growing and establishes a costly, top-heavy bureaucracy that is required to be fully funded by patients and places no requirements on insurance companies to fund treatment. Thus, it replicates the same class and racial disparities to access as the conventional medical system. The Germans, as uptight as they tend to be, at least recognized this problem and are acting to do something to address it. In Illinois, the politicians seem to be absolutely clueless about this and may simply enshrine such injustices if HB 30 passes in its current form...

German Court Approves Limited Medical Marijuana Growing
by Philip Smith

MUNSTER, GERMANY — A German court ruled earlier this month that seriously ill patients can grow their own medicine, but the ruling won’t apply to all medical marijuana patients. The Federal Administrative Court in Munster held that people for whom no other effective remedies are available or affordable can apply to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) for a license to grow their medicine if done under a doctor’s supervision.

Previously, all requests for personal cultivation had been rejected by under a directive from the Federal Ministry of Health, but that is unlawful, the court held.

“If an affordable treatment option is missing, a license for personal cultivation of cannabis has to be taken into consideration — at the discretion of the BfArM,” the court ruled, according to an account in Deutsche Welt.

The decision was welcomed by medical marijuana advocates.

“This ruling is a milestone on the path to a better supply of German citizens with cannabis-based medicines,” said Franjo Grotenhermen, chairman of the German Association for Cannabis as Medicine in remarks published in Deutscher Hanfverband, which covers German marijuana issues. “Cannabis products from the pharmacy are unaffordable for most patients. Legalized growing of the plant at home opens up for them for the first time an affordable alternative.”

The decision does not apply to patients whose insurance covers the cost of marijuana-based medications, the court clarified. But many health insurance companies refuse to reimburse the cost of those treatments. Other insurance companies will pay for Marinol, but some patients find it less effective than herbal marijuana. Those patients are also out of luck.

Currently, patients can be prescribed Marinol or the tincture Sativex, or they can apply to the BrAfM for permission to import prescription marijuana from the Netherlands.

“It is unbearable that many patients have to rely on illegal sources or illegal self-cultivation of their medical need,” Grotenhermen said.

Now, the federal government will have to respond to the court’s decision, said Dr. Oliver Tolmein, who represented the plaintiff, a multiple sclerosis sufferer identified only by his first name and last initial.

“If the Ministry of Health does not want patients to grow cannabis for self-therapy, is has to be made absolutely clear in the law on health insurances that they have to reimburse the cost of cannabinoid-containing medicines or medicinal cannabis for otherwise untreatable patients,” he told Deutscher Hanfverband.

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2012/13954/german-court-approves-limited-...

NY Governor Cuomo Calls for Marijuana Law Reform

Too bad Gov. Quinn doesn't have the courage to put his name on the line for a reform that the majority of Illinois supports...

by Philip Smith

ALBANY, NY — In his State of the State address Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called on the legislature to reform the state’s marijuana laws. Marijuana possession has been decriminalized in the state since 1977, but New York City has emerged as the nation’s marijuana arrest capitol because the NYPD habitually charges small-time offenders with “open view” possession — a misdemeanor — after intimidating them into pulling their baggies out of their pockets.

More than 600,000 people have been arrested for pot possession in New York in the past 15 years, most of them in New York City. The NYPD arrested some 50,000 people for “open view” possession in 2011 alone, 85% of them black or brown, mostly young men.

Cuomo attempted to push forward a reform bill last year, but that effort was stalled in the state Senate despite being supported by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelley, all five New York City prosecutors, and numerous others.

Cuomo noted the discrepancy in the law between public and private possession and called on solons to enact legislation to decriminalize the possession of up to 15 grams of pot in either private or public. The governor cited the negative impacts of mass marijuana arrests, including criminalization, stigmatization, wasted resources, and racial disparities.

“It’s not fair, it’s not right. It must end, and it must end now,” he demanded.

Mass marijuana arrests are “not worth it in dollars, in stigma or in impact. In order to fix the inequity in the law while still recognizing that possession in public is different from possession in one’s home, the Governor will propose legislation that makes ‘open view’ possession of marijuana in amounts of 15 grams or less a violation punishable by a fine,” he said in prepared remarks.

That’s what drug reformers, community activists, and civil liberties and racial justice activists wanted to hear.

“We cannot have the same laws applied differently to different groups of people when the dividing line is race,” said Gabriel Sayegh, New York state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The governor’s proposal is an essential step towards bringing greater fairness and equity to both our drug laws and policing practices in our state. The criminalization of our young people must end — the legislature must now act now to pass the governor’s bill.”

“I hope [Republican conference leader] Senator Skelos and the entire legislature heard Governor Cuomo loud and clear when he said it’s time to end marijuana arrests that ‘stigmatize and criminalize’ young people of color, which have been one of the leading consequences of stop and frisk,” said Alfredo Carrasquillo, a civil rights organizer for VOCAL-NY. “Governor Cuomo is right that these arrests mean more than a night in jail — they can have lasting effects on a person’s access to jobs, housing and a better future.”

“With stop and frisk and needless criminalization, too many of our young people are swept up in the criminal justice system. Governor Cuomo’s reform proposal is a critical step towards a brighter future for our youth,” said Kyung Ji Kate Rhee of the Center for NuLeadership. “Instead of wasting money on these arrests, we should be investing in community development and resources that are far more effective at guiding our youth in the choices they make towards fulfilling their best potential.”

Now, let’s see if the legislature is listening.

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2013/14379/ny-governor-cuomo-calls-for-ma...

Poll Shows West Virginia Majority Support for Medical Marijuana

As in Illinois, people in West Virginia are more realistic and less hysterical than their legislators. Call them "hillbillies" if you will, but they just may beat Illinois to a viable medical marijuana law.

CHARLESTON — A poll released today shows a majority of West Virginia voters think the state should enact a law allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. According to the survey, which was conducted last week by Public Policy Polling (PPP), voters in the state support medical marijuana by a 13-point margin, with 53% in favor and just 40% opposed.

The poll also found that West Virginia voters are increasingly recognizing the relative safety of marijuana compared to prescription painkillers. Specifically, it found that 63% of voters think marijuana is a safer means of treating debilitating pain than OxyContin. A plurality said they believe marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.

“Many West Virginians could potentially benefit from the use of medical marijuana where other drugs have failed,” said Dr. Paul Clancy, an emergency physician based in Spencer. “No patient battling a serious medical condition should have to risk possible arrest and imprisonment for using a medicine most West Virginians recognize as being safer than OxyContin.”

The poll results come as Delegate Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) prepares to introduce a bill in this year’s legislative session that would allow people with certain debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana with a recommendation from their physician.

“Our state is ready for a serious conversation about this compassionate legislation, and we hope it receives a fair hearing,” said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “A majority of voters agree that it’s time to stop criminalizing people who use marijuana responsibly to treat their conditions and alleviate their pain.”

“West Virginia should not be in the business of arresting and prosecuting seriously ill people who are simply trying to improve their quality of life,” Simon said.

The PPP poll also found that a plurality of voters support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession by all adults and replacing them with a civil infraction and fine, similar to a parking ticket.

The survey of 1,232 West Virginia voters was conducted January 7-9. The full results can be downloaded at http://www.mpp.org/WVpoll

http://www.mpp.org/media/press-releases/poll-shows-majority-of-west.html

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