Oklahoma’s Cannabis Law: Question No. 788

Written by Mark Pedersen

Written by Mark Pedersen

August 4, 2020

What Does It Mean for Oklahoma?

This article was originally published on September 8th, 2018 in the Medical Cannabis Journal.

One of the most tedious and frustrating tasks that I have willingly taken on since submersing myself in Cannabis reform…by far… has been these critiques.  I think it’s the even mix of ignorance, decisiveness and corruption – while apparent disregard for the suffering of their state for whom all medical Cannabis policy is based.  Empty promises to sell the “dispensary model”. That’s really at the core of most of these problematic attempts.
I have lived this..seen the plight of the chronically and terminally ill – up close, and most certainly personal. So many have payed a terrible price to satisfy the greed of “The Industry”. Oklahoma’s suffering and persecuted citizenry don’t have the time to wait for all the profiteers to “get theres’”.

PLEASE READ “No.788” IN ITS ENTIRETY.  Know that initiatives like this most certainly determine your freedoms.  “BandAids” on prohibitionist policy are not the path to legalization.  There’s a better way.  Oklahoma can bring REAL legalization to this nation,…with no more the effort than it took to pass this one.

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SECTION 1. NEW LAW    A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 420 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:

This is the single worst thing about this initiative.  Everything else, fades in importance. It edit’s the state “statutes”.

In all states with the power of the “Direct Initiative”, policy can be viewed as being derived from either of two elements – those created exclusively by the lawmakers (statutes) and those produced by the people (initiative – general election).
Statutes can be manipulated or deleted by lawmakers during any session. However, Amendments to the Constitution can ONLY be effected during a general election – when the people of the state have their say (majority rules).
A Direct Initiative can affect either or both state statutes and/or the constitution.  This initiative ONLY effects the state statutes.

So in other words, anything here in this initiative can be undone by prohibitionist lawmakers – without a general election; without the say of the people.

A.  A person in possession of a state issued medical marijuana license shall be able to:
The use of the word “marijuana” lessens the credibility of a medical initiative – my opinion.

1.  Consume marijuana legally;
The word “legally” is met with much interpretation, in the light of the rest of this document.

2.   Legally possess up to three (3) ounces of marijuana on their person;
Very good. Better than most states –   Please see my math a little further down.

3.   Legally possess six (6) mature marijuana plants;
OK…just OK. Where is the criteria determining a “mature plant”?  Again, see my math below.

4.  Legally possess six (6) seedling plants;
Again…where is the criteria determining “seedling plants”?  This is what will guide law enforcement. Since law enforcement sees ALL Cannabis as contraband, and this initiative most certainly does not effect their opinion) – when there’s nothing but gray area, they will determine how they will proceed based on their own prior biases.

Here’s my math:
An average healthy Indica hybrid Cannabis plant realistically gleans six to eight ounces of dried plant material (sativas can bring in as much as a pound or more per plant). Let’s go with 8 ounces from each plant for this example (leaf would add half again more, but we won’t consider it here.

8 ounces (per plant) X 6 (max. number of mature plants) = 48 ounces

        What’s allowed? 8 ounces (at residence #7) + 3 ounces (on person #2) = 11 ounces,

48 – 11 = 37 ounces. Without a provision that allows for “stockpiling”, you are now an illegal cultivator in the State of Oklahoma, and quite conceivably, a felon.

This initiative does not remove Cannabis from the state’s list of controlled substances and still considers it a Schedule I drug (os 63-2-204.C3),

37 ounces = 2.31 pounds in excess of the law. Of course, in an arrest, EVERYTHING in your possession would be weighed out against you.  That would be 48 ounces, or 3 pounds (plus leaf and stem, but that really doesn’t change the charges.  According to Oklahoma law (os 63-2-422), you would be a “Level 4 Drug Offender”.

So Oklahoma’s medical Cannabis patients have exchanged “illegal” for “entrapment”?

Now, realize, each time you are arrested, you lose your medicine (ALL OF IT) – what’s harvested, growing and processed – along with your grow equipment.  Include in that, everything you purchased from dispensaries.  Also, your cash, weapons (penalties increase when weapons are found) and potentially any property with monetary value (contents of bank accounts, boats, motorcycles, cars and trucks, etc.).
Of course, You will be responsible for all legal and court fees – NOT to prove your innocence.  Just to stay out of jail!

5.  Legally possess one (1) ounce of concentrated marijuana;
This would be a sizeable amount, if the patient was non-cancerous and set financially where he or she could just support the local dispensary each week and not have to stockpile because of financial reasons. Understand that the word “concentrate” encompasses much more than just “shatters and waxes”.  FECO (Full Extract Cannabis Oil) – what patients and caregivers have been using to treat serious, even terminal illness – is also considered  “concentrate”.

6.  Legally possess seventy-two (72) ounces of edible marijuana; and
Edibles are a very effective way that patients and caregivers can utilize the food they eat as a delivery system for their holistic medicine.  Unfortunately, once Cannabis is mixed with food, law enforcement looks at the total weight, not just the Cannabis. So, I’m sure you can imagine, surpassing that 72 ounce limit is remarkably easy, albeit inevitable.
Putting a limit on a food is never a good idea.

7.  Legally possess up to eight (8) ounces of marijuana in their residence.
This doesn’t sound like much in lieu of my math, does it? The fact is, patients MUST be able to “stockpile”.  It’s part of life if you’re middle-class or less. Eight ounces defeats the purpose of home cultivation or even shopping dispensary sales to make ends meet.
What if a patient wants to process their “marijuana” into concentrate?  Eight ounces would only produce a few grams at best.  When that’s exhausted, then what?

B. Possession of up to one and one-half (1.5} ounces of marijuana by persons who can state a medical condition, but not in possession of a state issued medical marijuana license, shall constitute a misdemeanor offense with a fine not to exceed Four Hundred Dollars ($400.00}.
Seriously?? An individual is identified AS BEING CHRONICALLY ILL, but because a fee wasn’t paid, now forfeits their medication AND has to pay up to $400? Not to mention, now they are a registered part of the “SYSTEM”. Why would someone put this in here except to create yet another revenue stream for the state?
And what has been created by omission?  What if the patient is caught with MORE than 1.5 ounces?  A felony?

C. A regulatory office shall be established under the Oklahoma State Department of Health which will receive applications for medical license recipients, dispensaries, growers, and packagers within sixty (60} days of the passage of this initiative.
Who qualifies this “regulatory office” regarding cannabis when the Oklahoma State Department of Health has previously not been qualified regarding even the basics of medical Cannabis efficacy?.

D.  The Oklahoma State Department of Health shall within thirty (30} days of passage of this initiative, make available, on their website, in an easy to find location, an application for a medical marijuana. The license will be good for two (2) years, and the application fee will be One Hundred Dollars ($100.00}, or Twenty Dollars ($20.00) for individuals on Medicaid, Medicare, or SoonerCare. The methods of payment will be provided on the website.
30 days is not very long to create departments, websites, and customized databases, let alone train multiple divisions of staff.

E.  A temporary license application will also be available on the Oklahoma Department of Health website. A temporary medical marijuana license will be granted to any medical marijuana license holder from other states, provided that the state has a state regulated medical marijuana program, and the applicant can prove they are a member of Temporary licenses will be issued for thirty (30) days. The cost for a temporary license shall be One Hundred Dollars ($100.00}. Renewal will be granted with resubmission of a new application. No additional criteria will be required.
This is quite innovative compared to other state initiatives, though the $100 fee for a temporary 30 day license is quite excessive. Issues like this demonstrate how the “commerce” of a state program can be given more importance than the patients it was designed for.

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K.  A caregiver license will be made available for qualified caregivers of a medical marijuana license holder who is homebound. The caregiver license will give the caregiver the same rights as the medical license holder. Applicants for a caregiver license will submit proof of the medical marijuana license holder’s license status and homebound status, that they are the designee of the medical marijuana license holder, must submit proof that the caregiver is age eighteen (18) or older, and must submit proof the caregiver is an Oklahoma resident. This will be the only criteria for a caregiver license.
No criteria for cultivation or production of concentrates on behalf of the “homebound”? This sounds like another way to create a delivery service and the licensing to boot.
There is far more to being a Cannabis caregiver than being a delivery service.

L.  All applicants must be eighteen (18) years or older. A special exception will be granted to an applicant under the age of eighteen (18), however these applications must be signed by two (2) physicians and the applicant’s parent or legal guardian.,
This could be quite difficult for parents of chronically or terminally ill children, particularly if they are poor. Of the young parents that I have worked with, doctor recommendations were quite tedious to obtain and forced them to incur considerable expense. Most physicians and specialists still have only a very “recreational” understanding of Cannabis.  One Oklahoma parent of a disabled child told me that when he asked his daughter’s specialist for a Cannabis recommendation, the physician responded by telling him to give her PCP (Phencyclidine, “Angel Dust” ) instead. I’m sure he thought he was quite funny.

M.  All applications for a medical license must be signed by an Oklahoma Board certified physician. There are no qualifying conditions. A medical marijuana license must be recommended according to the accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any medication. No physician may be unduly stigmatized or harassed for signing a medical marijuana license application.
This is excellent. The “qualifying conditions” criteria adopted by most states, is largely a snare and an opportunity for bigotry.

N.  Counties and cities may enact medical marijuana guidelines allowing medical marijuana license holders or caregivers to exceed the state limits set forth in subsection A of this section.
This sounds good at the inset, but appears to be pandering to a more covert and possibly divisive purpose.

SECTION 2. NEW LAW    A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 421 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:

“medical marijuana dispensary license”

A.  The Oklahoma State Department of Health shall within thirty (30) days of passage of this initiative, make available, on their website, in an easy to find location, an application for a medical marijuana dispensary license. The application fee shall be Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00) and a method of payment will be provided on the website. Retail applicants must all be Oklahoma state residents. Any entity applying for a retail license must be owned by an Oklahoma state resident and must be registered to do business in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma State Department of Health shall have two (2) weeks to review the application, approve or reject the application, and mail the approval/rejection letter (if rejected, stating reasons for rejection) to the applicant.
Very inexpensive by comparison to other states.

B.  The Oklahoma State Department of Health must approve all applications which meet the following criteria:

  1. Applicant must be age twenty-five (25) or older;
    Curious why they abandoned “21”.
  2. Any applicant, applying as an individual, must show residency in the state of Oklahoma;
  3. All applying entities must show that all members, managers, and board members are Oklahoma residents;
    Apparently an effort to keep out the “cartels”.
  4. An applying entity may show ownership of non-Oklahoma residents, but that percentage ownership may not exceed twenty-five percent (25%);
  5. All applying individuals or entities must be registered to conduct business in the state of Oklahoma;
  6. All applicants must disclose all ownership;
    Sounds good, but in the age of dummy companies and very savvy criminals (many in the Cannabis industry), remarks like this are largely to impress the citizenry.
  7. Applicant(s) with only nonviolent felony conviction(s) in the last two (2) years, any other felony conviction in 5 (years), inmates, or any person currently incarcerated may not qualify for a medical marijuana dispensary
    Quite progressive, apart from the “felony conviction” part.

C.  Retailers will be required to complete a monthly sales report to the Oklahoma Department of Health. This report will be due on the 15th of each month and provide reporting on the previous This report will detail the weight of marijuana purchased at wholesale and the weight of marijuana sold to card holders, and account for any waste. The report will show total sales in dollars, tax collected in dollars, and tax due in dollars. The Oklahoma State Department of Health will have oversight and auditing responsibilities to ensure that all marijuana being grown is accounted for. A retailer will only be subject to a penalty if a gross discrepancy exists and cannot be explained. Penalties for fraudulent reporting occurring within any 2 year time period will be an initial fine of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) (first) and revocation of licensing (second).

D.  Only a licensed medical marijuana retailer may conduct retail sales of marijuana, or marijuana derivatives in the form provided by licensed processors, and these products can only be sold to a medical marijuana license holder or their caregiver. Penalties for fraudulent sales occurring within any 2 year time period will be an initial fine of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) (first) and revocation of licensing (second).

The stated penalties seem lenient but do not address how aggressively the penalties would increase – beyond the stated limits – with repeat offenses. No doubt, Oklahoma lawmakers will be filling in the voids these rules create.  I wouldn’t be optimistic regarding the results.

SECTION 3. NEW LAW    A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 422 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:

Commercial grower license ($2,500.00)

A.  The Oklahoma State Department of Health will within thirty {30) days of passage of this initiative, make available, on their website, in an easy to find location, an application for a commercial grower The application fee will be Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars {$2,500.00) and methods of payment will be provided on the website. The Oklahoma State Department of Health has two (2) weeks to review application, approve or reject the application, and mail the approval/rejection letter {if rejected, stating reasons for rejection) to the applicant.
$2,500 is very inexpensive compared to other states.

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D.  There shall be no limits on how much marijuana a licensed grower can grow.
No limits is excellent. Most states have an upward sliding scale based on production.

SECTION 4. NEW LAW    A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 423 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:

Medical marijuana processing license ($2,500.00)

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C.  A licensed processor may take marijuana plants and distill or process these plants into concentrates, edibles, and other forms for consumption. As required by subsection D of this section, the Oklahoma State Department of Health will, within sixty {60) days of passage of this initiative, make available a set of standards which will be used by licensed processors in the preparation of edible marijuana products. This should be in line with current food preparation guidelines and no excessive or punitive rules may be established by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Absolutely! The reality that Cannabis is in fact food is glaringly absent from ALL current cannabis reform. It is unfortunate that it is not exemplified throughout this document.

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Processors will be required to complete a monthly yield and sales report to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. This report will be due on the 15th of each month and provide reporting on the previous month. This report will detail amount of marijuana purchased in pounds, the amount of marijuana cooked or processed in pounds, and the amount of waste in pounds. Additionally, this report will show total wholesale sales in dollars. The Oklahoma State Department of Health will have oversight and auditing responsibilities to ensure that all marijuana being grown is accounted for. A licensed processor will only be subject to a penalty if a gross discrepancy exists and cannot be explained. Penalties for fraudulent reporting occurring within any 2 year time period will be an initial Fine of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) (first) and revocation of licensing (second).
Carefully note the word “initial”.  That means, this is only where the penalties begin.

D.  The inspection and compliance of processors producing products with marijuana as an The Oklahoma State Department of Health will be compelled to, within thirty (30) days of passage of this initiative, appoint a board of twelve (12) Oklahoma residents, who are marijuana industry experts, to create a list of food safety standards for processing and handling medical marijuana in Oklahoma. These standards will be adopted by the agency and the agency can enforce these standards For processors. The agency will develop a standards review procedure and these standards can be altered by calling another board of twelve (12) Oklahoma marijuana industry experts. A signed letter of twenty (20) operating processors would constitute a need for a new board and standard review.
I take it that the “expert Oklahoma residents” are “appointed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health – without any real understanding of Cannabis or Cannabis therapy. So, what makes them experts? Please tell me that the Oklahoma powers-that-be did not create a conflict of interest by appointing dispensary owners or others in the Cannabis industry…

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F.  Any device used for the consumption of medical marijuana shall be considered legal to be sold, manufactured, distributed, and possessed. No merchant, wholesaler, manufacturer, or individual may unduly be harassed or prosecuted for selling, manufacturing, or possession of medical marijuana paraphernalia.
Paraphernalia has been used against patients in many states. You can still be fined for paraphernalia in Colorado, depending on the situation and the whim of law enforcement. I believe if you check the Oklahoma statutes, you’ll find that the penalties still exist when saddled with other “Cannabis crimes”.

SECTION 5. NEW LAW    A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 424 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:

Marijuana transportation license (no additional fees?)

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SECTION 6. NEW LAW    A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 425 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as Follows:

A.  No school or landlord may refuse to enroll or lease to and may not otherwise penalize a person solely for his status as a medical marijuana license holder, unless failing to do so would imminently cause the school or landlord to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law or regulations.Started out well, but then came the “back door” that nullifies the line completely. As patients here in Colorado so painfully realized, leases are most often drafted with Federal guidelines. As well, schools.  Pretty much nullifies this line.

B.  Unless a failure to do so would cause an employer to imminently lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under Federal law or regulations,
And yet another “back door”. By these very words, the health and safety of Oklahoma’s chronically and terminally ill are forced to take a back seat to commerce. Who can tell me if these restrictions have ever been applied to even over-the-counter drugs, let alone pharmaceuticals?

An employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination or imposing any term or condition of employment or otherwise penalize a person based upon either:

  1. The person’s status as a medical marijuana license holder; or
  2. Employers may take action against a holder of a medical marijuana license holder if the holder uses or possesses marijuana while in the holder’s place of employment or during the hours of employment. Employers may not take action against the holder of a medical marijuana license solely based upon the status of an employee as a medical marijuana license holder or the results of a drug test showing positive For marijuana or its components.
    Again, the “back door” that nullifies the whole line. So, employers can, BY LAW, discriminate against their employees solely based on their use or possession of Cannabis. This is bigotry made law.

C.  For the purposes of medical care, including organ transplants, a medical marijuana license holder’s authorized use of marijuana must be considered the equivalent of the use of any other medication under the direction of a physician and does not constitute the use of an illicit substance or otherwise disqualify a registered qualifying patient From medical care.
Here is the confusion. Discrimination is tolerated regarding employers but equality with transplants is ensured? What is the REAL point?

D.  No medical marijuana license holder may be denied custody of or visitation or parenting time with a minor, and there is no presumption of neglect or child endangerment for conduct allowed under this law, unless the person’s behavior creates an unreasonable danger to the safety of the minor.When I see lines like this inserted into Cannabis reform, it’s evident that at least one of the writers had a personal agenda. If we truly believed in the law and the rules of the land that have long since identified discrimination as wrong and not tolerated within our courts, why would the writers think that since Cannabis was involved, this issue would need to be treated differently?

E.  No person holding a medical marijuana license may unduly be withheld from holding a state issued license by virtue of their being a medical marijuana license This would include such things as a concealed carry permit.
Again, a personal agenda is expressed. Its apparent that there is an accepted bigotry reserved only for Cannabis. It’s insulting to think that the medicine that improves the lives of so many is still considered so dangerous that gun ownership might be denied of the Cannabis user.

F.  No city or local municipality may unduly change or restrict zoning laws to prevent the opening of a retail marijuana
Without a definition of “unduly change”, this line is mute.

G.  The location of any retail marijuana establishment is specifically prohibited within one thousand (1,000) feet from any public or private school entrance.
Another draconian “opinion” reserved specifically for Cannabis.  I have worked with terminally ill children as young as eight months. I have supported and spoken out publicly for laws mandating school access for pediatric patients. Are healthy children within schools somehow tainted by the medicine their mother, father, sister or brother takes to preserve their life?  Seriously, how confused is the message this writer is presenting?

H.  Research will be provided under this law.  A researcher may apply to the Oklahoma Department of Health for a special research license. That license will be granted, provided the applicant meet the criteria listed under Section 421. B. Research license holders will be required to file monthly consumption reports to the Oklahoma Department of Health with amounts of marijuana used for research.
Why is this included in this document? Under this document, Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug.  Schedule I drugs must be treated in a specific way by state and Federal law. The programs that are created to achieve this are called “Investigational New Drug” (IND) programs.
Research the Federal “Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program” (IND).  You can find my video interviews with the surviving four of the Federal program on Youtube, CannabisPatientNetwork.org.

SECTION 7. NEW LAW    A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 426 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:

A.  The tax on retail medical marijuana sales will be established at seven percent (7%) of the gross amount received by the seller.
Taxes and ANYTHING truly medical do not go together and never should. Anything beyond common sales tax is a “sin tax”. A “Sin tax” is implemented to discourage the use of a substance that causes harm. Cannabis is NONTOXIC. It does not cause harm.

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C.  If proceeds from the levy authorized by subsection A of this section exceed the budgeted amount for running the regulatory office, any surplus shall be apportioned with seventy-five percent (75%) going to the General Revenue Fund and may only be expended for common Twenty-five percent (25%) shall be apportioned to the Oklahoma State Department of Health and earmarked for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Why is one fourth of all “surplus” going to “drug and alcohol rehabilitation”, let alone the “General Revenue Fund”? Cannabis is not a “harmful dangerous drug”, though one would certainly not know that by this writing.

SECTION 8. The provisions hereof are severable, and if any part or provision hereof shall be void, invalid, or unconstitutional, the decision of the court so holding shall not affect or impair any of the remaining parts or provision hereof, and the remaining provisions hereof shall continue in full force and effect.

SECTION 9. This act shall become effective one (1) month immediately following its passage.

My Summary:

 Through the years, I have reviewed quite a number of initiatives from virtually every state that has the power of the initiative.  I have authored a couple of House Bills and five Initiatives to date. It has become a life goal for me to help guide others toward a better understanding of the realities of Cannabis reform and what is possible for our nation and the world.
Time, more than anything else, has demonstrated that nothing short of REAL legalization can be sustainable. All other forms of “regulation” limit or prevent patient access to this most important medicine. Here in Colorado, 90% of those who need Cannabis, don’t have access. Why? Artificially inflated prices, bigotry, overzealous law enforcement, divisive manipulation of patient rights, profit over patients – greed.  As it is in all matters of corruption, it is the weakest, the most vulnerable, who suffer most.

As strange as it might sound, unbelief, or perhaps more descriptively, “Cognitive dissidence”, is far more evident among the recreational Cannabis crowd than the public at large. What’s more, their self-imposed ignorance morphs into blatant apathy once they become involved with “the industry”.  What they fail to, or in all too many cases, refuse to understand is that we already have a majority – nationwide – who are fed up with Cannabis prohibition.  Even with a very small amount of education, the majority of Americans KNOW Cannabis is nontoxic and could hold real promise for the chronically and terminally ill.  Again, I have not only seen it, I have lived it.
Imagine where we would be now if every state currently with some form of Cannabis reform had first led with REAL education – The truth – rather than hearsay, government propaganda or corrupt dispensary divisiveness.  What if the chronically and terminally ill of the state were actually considered first.

Can a dispensary open under this policy and still be viable for patients? Yes. It’s limited…very limited.  What’s more, poorly written policy makes future freedoms far more difficult to attain.
In Colorado, REAL legalization will only come with massive reform, since prohibition has been fortified with so much regulation – thousands of pages added to statutes and two Constitutional Amendments.
But it’s done, and unfortunately… at least for now… we have to make the best of what we have.  My hope would be to see those who have self-appointed themselves as “Oklahoma industry leaders” would first, commit themselves to be ever cognizant of the well-being of the people of Oklahoma.  And, that they would quickly embrace REAL legalization once we are able to bring it to their state.

My message for Oklahoma’s Cannabis patients – don’t lose sight of your original hope.  Though promises of wealth are rampant and far outnumber those for healing, as profiteers create their self-glorifying construct, don’t get caught up in that.  This is not sustainable.  But REAL legalization is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

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