Industrial Hemp

Oregon: Marijuana Legalization/Regulation Will Be On November Ballot

NewApproachOregon

New Approach Oregon turned in at least 145,710 signatures Thursday, more than enough to qualify

The New Approach Oregon campaign, which is working to regulate marijuana, on Thursday turned in at least 145,710 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State, more than enough to qualify a measure for the ballot.

That means Oregon voters in November 2014 can vote yes to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana. The campaign has finished collecting signatures.

Thursday's signature turn-in coincides with the six-month anniversary of the start of regulated sales of marijuana in Colorado. Marijuana sales in Colorado projected to result in $30 million in tax revenue in the next year. Colorado has already seen a 10 percent drop in violent crime and a 50 percent drop in homicides.

In Oregon under the current system, more than 10,000 adults in Oregon are arrested every year for marijuana, according to the latest numbers from the Oregon State Police. That’s an average of one person every 51 minutes.

“It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on treating marijuana use as a crime,” said Peter Zuckerman, press secretary for the New Approach Oregon campaign. “Prohibition of marijuana is ineffective, costs the state tax revenue and fuels violence. It’s time to try something new.”

U.S.: House Tells DEA Hands Off State Hemp Programs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. House of Representatives early Friday cut off funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration's interference in state-legal industrial hemp research, a sharp rebuke to the beleaguered agency less than a month after DEA agents seized hemp seeds meant for Kentucky's pilot program.

Two hemp-related amendments to the DEA's funding bill passed, reports Ryan J. Reilly at The Huffington Post. The amendments, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) stop the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from blocking states' importation of hemp seeds, and from stopping the states from implementing laws authorizing industrial hemp cultivation made legal under this year's federal Farm Bill.

Massie's amendment passed 246-162, and Bonamici's passed 237-1780. The Senate will likely look at its own appropriations bill for the DEA and DOJ, and the House hemp amendments would have to survive that joint conference before taking effect. The House also voted to cut off funding for the DEA's medical marijuana raids in states where it is legal.

"The DEA has more important things to do than interfere with legal activities at the state level," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) "We need to remove this cloud of uncertainty."

U.S.: Congress To Vote On 4 Amendments Reining In the Troubled DEA

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Amendments Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana Laws; Prohibit DEA from Blocking Production of Hemp; Deny Proposed DEA Budget Increase

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart Increasingly At Odds With President Obama, Justice Department and Congress; Lawmakers and Advocates Call for Her to be Fired

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on Thursday on at least four amendments checking the Drug Enforcement Administration's power and cutting its budget.

The DEA has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other problems exacerbated by the Drug War. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead deferring to DEA Administrators on how best to deal with drug-related issues.

That all has changed recently as more members of Congress have called out the DEA and its beleaguered head, Administrator Michele Leonhart.

“There’s unprecedented support on both sides of the aisle for ending the federal war on drugs and letting states set their own drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The more the DEA blocks sensible reforms the more they will see their agency’s power and budget come under deeper scrutiny.”

Kentucky: Hemp Seeds Legally Planted For First Time In Decades

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hemp has been legally planted in Kentucky for the first time in decades, signaling the tentative return of a crop which once was a lucrative industry for the Bluegrass State.

University of Kentucky researchers on Tuesday planted a small crop of 13 varieties of hemp seeds, finally released last week by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after pointless bureaucratic wrangling.

Although industrial hemp was an indispensable crop for Kentucky through World War II, it was the first time it had been legally planted in the state since the 1970s, reports Janet Patton at the Herald Leader.

University of Kentucky agronomists RIch Mundell and David Williams will supervise the hemp study. The plants are expected to sprout in 7 to 10 days and will be harvested in October. Each variety will be evaluated for its seed and fiber production.

"It's exciting to be working on something different, and we're very hopeful it will be successful," said Williams. "Generally speaking, compared to some crops, it's not difficult to grow.

"But there are some things that are unknown today," Williams continued. "In particular, differences in the varieties of hemp we have access to today."

While much of the economic interest in hemp decades ago was based on its fiber, now there's more focus on the seeds, which can be press for a nutritious oil which contains essential fatty acids (EFAs) Omega 3 and 6.

Nebraska: No Industrial Hemp Crop This Year; Maybe Next Time?

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Nebraska won't be harvesting a legal hemp crop this fall, despite the Legislature's passage of a law allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp for research. State bureaucrats at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture are still working on the rules.

The bill in question, LB 1001, tasked the state agriculture department with devising rules and regulations for hemp cultivation in the Cornhusker State, reports Nicholas Bergin at the Lincoln Journal Star. The department is still researching hemp programs in other states, but won't have their ducks -- or maybe I should say hemp plants -- in a row in time for spring planting.

"There will be no hemp research projects initiated under a program this year," said spokeswoman Christin Kamm of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Kamm didn't say when the first crop might be planted.

The industrial hemp bill, which passed overwhelmingly on a 39-2 vote, will allow the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to grow hemp, a variety of cannabis that unlike recreational marijuana does not contain enough THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) to produce a high.

Illinois: Senate Unanimously Passes Industrial Hemp Research Bill

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The Illinois Senate on Monday voted 51-0 to pass House Bill 5085, sending the bill to the House for concurrence. This bill would allow Illinois colleges and universities to conduct research on industrial hemp and would bring Illinois law in line with recent changes to federal policy on hemp.

“Illinois has a long history of being a producer of industrial hemp and it is time we get back to our roots and begin the process of growing this important agricultural product throughout our state once again,” said Ali Nagib, assistant director of Illinois NORML. "Hundreds of millions of dollars of hemp products are sold annually throughout the U.S., and we need to bring the production of the plant back to Illinois instead of out-sourcing it to China, Europe and Canada."

Currently 12 states have laws which make the production of industrial hemp legal, but with limited exception none of those states have active cultivation of the plant due to federal laws prohibiting such production. HB 5085 does not go as far as the laws in those states and is limited to the research that was recently allowed by changes in federal law.

Industrial hemp is defined by the bill as a cannabis plant with no more than 0.3 percent THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis. (Science has shown, however, that particularly for hempseed oil production, higher-THC varieties produce more per acre.)

U.S.: Minority Leader McConnell Slams DEA For Blocking Kentucky Hemp Research

FireMicheleLeonhart(DEA)

Political Battle Builds as DEA Faces Growing Scrutiny for Slew of Scandals: Use of NSA Data to Spy on Virtually All Americans, Massacre of Civilians in Honduras, and Systematic Pattern of Fabricating Evidence

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart Increasingly At Odds With President Obama, Justice Dept., and Congress

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has weighed in on the political firestorm that has ensued since the DEA recently seized legal hemp seeds bound for a Kentucky hemp research program that was approved by Congress. McConnell told Politico Wednesday night, “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.”

The Kentucky Agriculture Department is suing the agency.

Hemp is not legal to grow in the U.S., though hemp products can be produced and sold in the U.S. Some states have made its cultivation legal, but these states -– North Dakota, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, California, Montana, West Virginia and Vermont -– have not yet begun to grow it because of resistance from the DEA.

A few months ago, Congress legalized the production of hemp for research purposes in states that want to allow it. But when Kentucky recently tried to import hemp seeds to begin production, the DEA seized the seeds. Kentucky officials, including Kentucky Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) were angered.

Kentucky: Italian Hemp Seeds Facing One Final Hurdle Before Being Planted

HempSeeds

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A shipment of Italian hemp seeds has made it safely to Kentucky, where the law was recently changed to allow the growing of industrial hemp for university research projects, but federal customs officials in Louisville have so far refused to release the 250 pounds of seeds to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

The confusion is keeping the hemp seeds from getting to research project locations in the state, according to Kentucky officials, reports Kevin Willis at WKY Public Radio.

"I spoke with a Customs official in Chicago, and once I advised her of what the law is, and what we're doing at the Department of Agriculture, Customs in Chicago released the seeds to Louisville, and now it's just a question of getting everyone on the same page," said Holly Harris VonLuehrte, chief of staff at the Kentucky Agriculture Department.

VonLuehrte said she believes Customs officials will release the hemp seeds within "the next 24 hours."

The shipment of seeds from Italy is meant to supply three pilot hemp research projects in the Bluegrass State. VonLuehrte said the Department of Agriculture already has a prior shipment of hemp seeds ready to plant next Friday in Rockcastle County, home to a pilot hemp project being conducted by Kentucky State University.

Turkey: 9,000-Year-Old Hemp Fabric Found

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Archaeological excavations in Turkey have revealed a 9,000-year-old hemp-linen fabric in the ground at the site of a burned house. The fabric was wrapped around the skeleton of a baby.

The dig, in the central Anatolian province of Konya at the settlement of Çatalhöyük, is being called one of the most important finds of 2013, reports the Hurriyet Daily News. More than 120 people from 22 countries worked on the excavations.

"The fire warmed up the ground and platforms of the building and created a kiln drying effect," said Professor Ian Hodder of Stanford University. "Therefore the pieces and this piece of cloth underground have been so far protected."

"Examinations in the laboratory show that this piece of cloth is linen weaved with hemp," Professor Hodder said. "This is a first in the world and one of the best preserved examples."

"This piece of linen, which is weaved very thin, most probably came from the eastern Mediterranean from the central Anatolia," Hodder said. "It is already known that obsidians and sea shells had been exchanged in long-distance trade in the Middle East during the Neolithic era. But this fabric may have revealed another side of the trade."

A report on the Çatalhöyük excavations is available at www.catalhoyuk.com.

Colorado: Farmers Search In Vain For Legal Hemp Seed

HempSeedsHandsHeart

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One entrepreneur is warning that few Colorado farmers will plant hemp this spring if a federal ban on shipping hemp seeds across state lines and national borders isn't changed soon.

Hundreds of Colorado farmers have contacted her in recent months asking where to get hemp seeds for the coming season, said Barbara Filippone, whose Glenwood Springs-based company, EnvironTextiles, imports and sells hemp and other natural fibers, reports Nelson Harvey at the Aspen Daily News.

"I have a notebook with contacts for at least 100 interested farmers, and three to five more calling me every day," Filippone said.

Filippone said she recently heard from an eastern Colorado farmer who got a mysterious shoebox full of seeds in the mail from someone called "The Hemp Stork" who didn't list a return address. The farmer planted some of the seeds, Filippone said, before realizing it was illegal to ship hemp.

"He was terrified," Filipone said, adding that the seeds probably came from a hemp activist "who was not considering things like federal regulations, federal subsidies or crop insurance."

Sourcing hemp seeds from inside the state is next to impossible, since only one Colorado farmer, Ryan Loflin of Springfield, harvested a major hemp crop last year. Under federal law, which regards hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance just like marijuana, shipping unsterilized hemp seeds in from other states or countries is illegal.

Australia: New Plastic Means Almost Anything Can Be Made From Hemp

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Today's plastics are made from petroleum, which means we are polluting the atmosphere and putting products that cannot biodegrade into our environment. But Zeoform, a new company based in Australia has created a new kind of plastic made only from water and cellulose taken from hemp plants -- meaning the plastic is not only eco-friendly but biodegradable.

The company's patented process converts the cellulose fibers found in hemp into a super-strong, high tech molding material capable of being formed into 100 percent nontoxic and biodegradable products, reports Joe Martino at Collective Evolution.

The company hopes to expand its patented technology and start offering manufacturing licenses to larger facilities around the world. Switching over from non-sustainable and toxic forms of plastic to Zeoform plastic can be done with existing infrastructure, according to the company.

The company says their product relies only upon the natural process of hydrogen bonding that takes place when cellulose fibers are mixed with water. No glue or other bonding material is necessary, because the bond already created is so strong.

The final material can be turned into almost anything, and can be cut, routed, machined, drilled, screwed, nailed and glued in the same way wood can be. It can also be colored and finished however product manufacturers would like.

U.S.: Farm Bill Passes House With Hemp Research Intact

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Farm Bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday morning by a vote of 251 to 166, including the hemp provision. "This is a big first step towards allowing American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp," according to VoteHemp.org.

The hemp provision was originally introduced as an amendment to the Farm Bill by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), all three of whom represent states which have legalized industrial hemp. The provision allows universities and state agriculture departments to grow hemp for academic or agricultural research purposes, but applies only to states where industrial hemp farming has already been legalized under state law.

"By including language easing restrictions on industrial hemp in states where it is legal, Congress sends an important message that we are ready to examine hemp in a more appropriate way," Rep. Blumenauer said on Monday.

"Vote Hemp was pleased with the bipartisan support for the amendment and worked with key Republican and Democratic offices in both the House and Senate to ensure the amendment was included in the conference report, which passed the House on Thursday. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) reportedly worked to keep and strengthen the hemp provision in the Farm Bill.

U.S.: Farm Bill Allows States And Universities To Grow Hemp For Research

IndustrialHempField

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hemp cultivation for research purposes by colleges, universities and state agriculture departments is allowed in the new Farm Bill, according to a report released Monday night by the U.S. Senate and House conference committee on the bill.

The hemp amendment in the Farm Bill was written by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. All three Congressmen represent states where industrial hemp production is already legal under state law.

The inclusion of the industrial hemp amendment in the Farm Bill is a "bright spot in an otherwise disappointing bill," Rep. Blumenauer said late on Monday. The bill, which cuts about $8 billion from the food stamp program over the next decade, is expected to be voted on by the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday.

"Oregonians have made it clear that they believe industrial hemp should be treated as an agricultural commodity, not a drug," Blumenauer said in an email to The Oregonian. "By including language easing restrictions on industrial hemp in states where it is legal, Congress sends an important message that we are ready to examine hemp in a more appropriate way."

The amendment allows colleges, universities and state agriculture programs to cultivate hemp for research and pilot projects; it does not, however, protect individual farmers who grow the crop.

Oregon: Preparation Begins for Industrial Hemp to be Sown in Spring 2014

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By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

After a panel of appointed experts can appease federal officials with a set of rules, Oregon farmers may sow a crop of industrial hemp next spring. The committee of agricultural experts and state officials has been selected by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, and will come together in December to establish proper procedures for hemp cultivation in Oregon.

"The committee hopes to set up a program that will meet what the federal government calls a ‘robust’ standard," according to Jim Cramer, a market and certification official at the Department of Agriculture. "The goal is to do so in time for planting."

In 2009, Senate Bill 676, spearheaded by Oregon State Senator Floyd Prozanski, was passed by the Oregon legislature and then-Governor Theodore Kulongoski signed the historic bill into law. Since the passage, Oregon farmers have been hesitant to begin growing due to fear that they’d be prosecuted by the Drug Enforcement Administration for possession of a schedule I controlled substance.

In recent months, hemp’s legal status gained momentum. The federal justice department said it won’t prosecute cases in states such as Washington and Colorado that legalize and regulate marijuana.

Tennessee: Lawmaker Drafting Bill To Re-Legalize Hemp

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Tennessee lawmaker wants to bring hemp farming back to the Volunteer State, and he's drafting a bill that would do exactly that. State Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) said the key to success is educating his colleagues about the differences between industrial hemp and marijuana -- and the economic benefits to farmers.

Hemp is used in the manufacture of plastics, insulation, and paper. Hemp seeds are used to supplement protein and omega 3-6-9 essential fatty acids, report Heidi Hall and Adam Tamburin at The Tennessean. Hemp clothes, shoes and purses sell briskly. But growing hemp is illegal in the United States, because lawmakers wrote the marijuana laws to include even low-THC varieties of industrial hemp.

"Their biggest fear is that, if they support hemp, people will think they support marijuana," Sen. Niceley said. "That's a cousin of hemp, but cornbread is a cousin of moonshine."

Republican Rep. Jon Lundberg of Bristol remains unconvinced. He also bemoans the federal hoops to jump through, with marijuana considered a Schedule I controlled substance, and he claimed farmers in his district are "not clamoring" for it.

Oregon: Officials Say Industrial Hemp Production Rules Will Be Ready By Spring

HempHarvest

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Officials in the Oregon Department of Agriculture on Tuesday said their goal is to have rules for the production of industrial hemp in place by planting time next spring.

The department has gathered a group of policy experts and agriculture officials, including Jim Cramer, director of market access and certification programs at the Department of Agriculture, and Russ Karow, who leads Oregon State University's soil and crop science program, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The group has scheduled its first meeting, in December, to write "robust" rules for hemp production.

Oregon is one of seven states which allows the production of industrial hemp, a non-intoxicating variety of cannabis grown for its fiber and seeds. Oregon officials so far haven't implemented the 2009 law, saying they planned to wait until the federal government changed its marijuana laws, which don't differentiate between hemp and marijuana.

Canada: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods Passes Food Safety and Quality Recertification

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods on Wednesday announced that its facility, located in Winnipeg, "aced" the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standards Recertification. According to Manitoba Harvest, it is the world's largest hemp food manufacturer, growing, making and selling their own hemp foods.

The company improved a full "grade" from their first certification last year, according to chief executive officer and cofounder Mike Fata. "Improving our BRC Certification standing to 'A-Grade' showcases our commitment to continuous improvement -- especially when it comes to food safety and quality," Fata said.

"If a school had a hemp production program we'd already have our Ph.D.," Fata said. "Receiving a top grade in our recertification validates our team's commitment to quality."

BRC Certification is considered the world's leading food safety and quality certification program, and is used by suppliers in more than 100 countries.

To receive BRC Certification, Manitoba Harvest underwent a voluntary audit by a third-party certification body that ensures the production, packaging, storage and distribution of safe food and consumer products. The annual certification is meant to reassure retailers and consumers of the capability and competence of Manitoba Harvest's facility, and therefore the integrity of its products.

Celebrating their 15th year in business, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods offers products like hemp hearts (raw shelled hemp seeds) and Hemp Pro 70 (hemp protein concentrate).

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Kentucky: Agriculture Commissioner To Pitch Hemp To Auto Executives

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is taking his pitch for industrial hemp to auto manufacturers on Thursday.

Comer is attending AutoConnect, a trade conference in Nashville, where executives from Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda and other manufacturers will be attending, reports Janet Patton of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The commissioner of agriculture hopes to tell the execs about using hemp, which he said contains "longer, stronger, lighter and greener" fibers than the products currently used in the auto manufacturing process.

"It has been my goal to make the pitch for Kentucky-grown industrial hemp to automobile manufacturers," Comer said. "Now the opportunity is here and I believe this could be a win-win: a win for Kentucky farmers and a win for an industry working hard to find a more environmentally sound manufacturing process."

Some automakers in Europe are already using hemp as a biodegradable, sustainable material in parts such as dashboards, interior panels, and soundproofing.

Comer said Kentucky farmers might plant hemp next year despite an advisory letter issued last month by state Attorney General Jack Conway saying that farmers who do so "will expose themselves to potential criminal liability and the possible seizure of property by federal or state law enforcement agencies."

Colorado: First Hemp Harvest In Half A Century Begins

RyanLoflinInHempFieldColorado

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

America's first legal hemp harvest in more than half a century began this month in Colorado.

Amendment 64, approved by voters last November, didn't just legalize small amounts of marijuana for adults -- it also cleared the way for industrial hemp production. Farmer Ryan Loflin wasted no time; he planted 55 acres of hemp this past spring, reports Melanie Asmar at Westword.

Hemp advocates from across the United States came to watch last week as Loflin and his crew harvested the first plants by hand. "It felt very historic," said advocate Lynda Parker.

"We think that, obviously, this is a symbolic first hemp harvest," said Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA). Steenstra predicted that farmers in other states will soon follow Loflin's lead.

Since the federal government doesn't distinguish between marijuana and hemp -- classifying both as a Schedule I controlled substance -- when the federal Department of Justice recently indicated it wouldn't sue to stop state marijuana legalization, Steenstra said that policy should apply to hemp, as well.

The night before the ceremonial September 23 harvest, Loflin hosted a dinner at his farm, featuring hemp-based foods. It was attended by Colorado hemp advocates, as well as national advocates from the Hemp Industries Association, Vote Hemp, and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.

California: Governor Brown Signs Bill Legalizing Hemp Farming Under State Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed SB 566, the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, legalizing hemp farming under state law.

Introduced by state Senator Mark Leno earlier this year, SB 566 ensures that California is prepared to begin registering hemp farmers once the federal government gives states the green light, according to hemp advocacy organization Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), an industry trade group.

The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act will establish a framework for farming the oilseed and fiber varieties of the plant, which are used in a myriad of everyday consumer products, including food, body care, clothing, paper, auto parts, composites, building materials, and biofuels.

Enforcement and oversight of hemp production would be handled in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and country agricultural commissioners, as is done with other farm crops.

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