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SWAT-style search for marijuana due to hydroponic gardening and tea leaves heads to court

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SWAT-style search for marijuana due to hydroponic gardening and tea leaves heads to court

SWAT-style search for marijuana due to hydroponic gardening and tea leaves heads to court

WICHITA, Kan. — A federal trial that begins Monday will focus on whether police lied about the results of tests on discarded tea leaves found in a Kansas couple’s trash to get a search warrant ahead of a SWAT-style raid on their home in search of marijuana.

Robert and Adlynn Harte are seeking $5 million for economic losses, emotional pain, distress and humiliation and an additional $2 million in punitive damages in response to the 2012 raid on their Leawood home.

Authorities targeted the Hartes, both former CIA employees, after seeing Robert Harte and his two children leaving a store that sold hydroponic gardening equipment, which is sometimes used to grow marijuana. Johnson County sheriff’s deputies found the brewed tea leaves in trash they collected from a curbside receptacle outside their home. An affidavit claimed field tests indicated the leaves were marijuana.

Officers armed with assault rifles raided the couple’s home on April 20, 2012. The calendar day is significant because April 20 marks an annual celebration among users of all things cannabis. On that day in Kansas, law enforcement authorities planned a series of marijuana raids dubbed “Operation Constant Gardener” capped by a news conference. But at the Hartes’ house, the swat team found only some scrawny vegetable plants the family was growing indoors. The Hartes sued Johnson County officials in 2013.

A federal judge dismissed the Hartes’ lawsuit in 2015, but the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated parts of it in July. Appeals Judge Carlos Lucero called the raid an unjustified government intrusion based on nothing more than junk science, an incompetent investigation and a publicity stunt.

“Law-abiding tea drinkers and gardeners beware: One visit to a garden store and some loose tea leaves in your trash may subject you to an early-morning, SWAT-style raid, complete with battering ram, bulletproof vests, and assault rifles,” Lucero wrote.

Law enforcement officials enjoy a high level of immunity from liability, and many of the Hartes’ claims have been dismissed.

The key issue left for the trial is whether one or more officials lied about the positive field test results on the wet leaves, which would make the warrant invalid and the resulting search unconstitutional. The defendants facing trial on that claim are Johnson County deputies Mark Burns, Edward Blake and Thomas Reddin.

The Hartes’ attorneys have asked the judge to let them brew tea for jurors so they can determine themselves that wet tea leaves are different in appearance and smell than marijuana.

In addition, jurors will be asked to decide whether deputies used unreasonable force in executing the warrant, whether the deputies’ decision to remain in the Hartes’ home and detain them after it became clear there was no longer any probable cause constituted trespass and false arrest, and whether the deputies’ forceful entry into the house caused the Hartes to fear bodily harm and therefore constituted assault. Defendants facing trial on those claims are the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, Sheriff Frank Denning and several deputies.

U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum is presiding over the trial in the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas.

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Published at Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:37:09 +0000

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66 Congress members make plea to extend protection for medical marijuana states

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66 Congress members make plea to extend protection for medical marijuana states

66 Congress members make plea to extend protection for medical marijuana states

With the current federal appropriations bill set to expire Dec. 8, there’s a new bipartisan call for continuing protection of medical marijuana states.

Two congressmen behind a namesake provision for medical cannabis, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, on Wednesday sent a letter co-signed by 64 of their peers to House and Senate leadership.

The letter, addressed to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, urged them to extend the “Rohrabacher-Blumenauer” provision that has been in place since December 2014, which “has successfully protected patients, providers, and businesses against federal prosecution, so long as they act within the confines of their state’s medical marijuana laws.”

The missive also listed the 46 states, along with two U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, which have enacted some form of legalization of medical cannabis, “from CBD oils to the full plant.”


Related: Sessions says DOJ just talked “at some length” about marijuana enforcement

It was signed by five of Colorado’s seven House representatives: Republicans Ken Buck and Mike Coffman; and Democrats Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis. Republicans Scott Tipton and Doug Lamborn did not sign it.

The measure, previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr” (Rep. Sam Farr retired in 2016), prevents the Justice Department from using its resources to pursue prosecutions involving cannabis when a state’s medical marijuana laws have been followed, and its presence has had an impact in federal courts.

Earlier this year, a judge suspended the case of two California men who had pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiring to manufacture and sell marijuana; the judge cited the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in what is believed to be the first such ruling of its kind.

Another case involved medical marijuana growers in Washington state, who were convicted in 2015. In October, federal prosecutors acknowledged they shouldn’t have spent taxpayer dollars on the trial.

The provision has been targeted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who in May sent a letter of his own to congressional leadership asking that it not be included in the appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018, stating: “It would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.”

Earlier this year, the measure was approved in the Senate version of the spending bill, but not the House’s.

The Senate Appropriations Committee included the amendment language in the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018. In September, the measure was rejected from consideration for a floor vote by GOP leadership in the House Rules Committee.


(A list of signatories is included below the letter.)

Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Group Letter to Leadership 11 28 17 (Text)

List of Signatories Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Letter to Leadership (Text)

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Published at Thu, 30 Nov 2017 01:25:36 +0000

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New cannabis vape lounge, Natural Budz, opens in Pickering, Ont

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New cannabis vape lounge, Natural Budz, opens in Pickering, Ont

New cannabis vape lounge, Natural Budz, opens in Pickering, Ont

The Durham region has got a brand new vapour lounge with Natural Budz opening in Pickering, Ontario.

With a motto of “Be happy, love people, stay high”, the founders of Natural Budz, Tiara and Annelene Sillet, want to reduce the stigma around cannabis by providing an inclusive space for community, education, and enjoying cannabis’ many benefits. Natural Budz even hosts a “High Meditation Session” every Friday along with live music, video game tournaments, and movie nights every week.

The lounge is open to everybody (except minors) and the owners promote the use of Volcano vaporizers as one of the healthiest methods of smoking cannabis- but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to Volcanoes, as Natural Budz CEO Tiara Sillet said, “We allow other methods of consumption as well. We just don’t allow tobacco”. Members definitely have their options with Natural Budz’s collection of bongs, rigs, pipes, and grinders- you’re bound to find the method of consumption best suited for you.

Co-founder Tiara Sillet is a medical cannabis patient herself, and she told CLN, “The neighbours have been awesome. They usually stop by and express how happy they are about having a place like this in the area. This plaza used to be called the Stoner Plaza, and we aim to provide an area for people to smoke away from other businesses and/or minors.”

But not everybody likes the idea of vapour lounges like Natural Budz in Pickering, such as Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean, who told the Durham Region News, “Even if it [cannabis] was legal, I’d have a real issue with it [the lounge].” But the owners of Natural Budz are doing everything they can to stay on the right side of the law, with Tiara Sillet saying, “It is strictly bring your own bud. No dealing or soliciting is allowed on the premises.”

Tiara continued, “We just recently met with inspectors and the staff sergeant from the Pickering police headquarters and helped to educate them about the cannabis industry, and we explained how small businesses are needed to improve the economy”. She also told them that Ontario should consider a similar model to BC to avoid monopolizing the industry. Tiara and her partner have also met with some of the local politicians, including the Pickering mayor.

Natural Budz is open every day except for Wednesdays, and daily, weekly, and monthly memberships are available. All memberships get you entry into the lounge, the use of the vaporizers, and a pleasant/comfortable vibe.

For more CLN coverage of cannabis lounges in Ontario, click here.

Photo Credit: Durham Region News

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Published at Wed, 29 Nov 2017 01:02:38 +0000

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Glenn Price talks Manitoba’s legalization plans, ‘garbage’ LP weed, & the future of Your Medical Cannabis

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Glenn Price talks Manitoba’s legalization plans, ‘garbage’ LP weed, & the future of Your Medical Cannabis

Glenn Price talks Manitoba’s legalization plans, ‘garbage’ LP weed, & the future of Your Medical Cannabis

Cannabis Life Network spoke to Glenn Price, the owner of Your Medical Cannabis, a medical dispensary, lounge, headshop, and educational centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba that was raided and closed back in 2015. He told us what he’s been up to since his court case, what he thinks of Manitoba’s new legalization plans, and how living in Vancouver inspired him to plead his case.

manitoba glenn price

Cannabis Life Network: Could you tell us a little more about your court case and the charges you were facing?

Glenn Price: Actually, before I ended up in court, I was waiting for the government to send me my growing license and it took over 3 months!

So, after about a month and a half of waiting, I started growing, and when my license finally came, I moved to a different place, and that’s when the police came and I got charged with drug trafficking, proceeds of crime, and a few others.

But, because I had a proper license, they changed it to being a case of not being at the right house. So I ended up getting 2 years of probation, 75 hours of community service, a $6000 fine, and I cannot promote cannabis directly or indirectly.

Even when it becomes legal on July 1st, I can’t do anything in the cannabis business for 2 years!

How long have you been in BC?

I left Manitoba on June 9th, 2017, after I dealt with the charges, but when I got here, I found out that I had the right to appeal my case!

When you plead your case at City Hall, what are you going to say?

“How can they convict me for my dispensary when there are hundreds of shops here doing the exact same thing?”

I even have statements from the Winnipeg Police saying they believe I was only selling to medical cannabis patients because they tried to buy from me 5 times and they couldn’t. I wasn’t selling recreational to anybody- it was get signed up or I’m not selling to you.

I think there are 5 in Vancouver that are medical cannabis only, and all the others are recreational. So I don’t understand the logic in the government convicting me.

It’s really unfortunate because if they let me run my business, along with other people like me, we would’ve stomped out the black market already because they couldn’t compete with us selling for $3/gram. But that was for compassion pricing- I had stuff for $10/gram too because I had to pay rent.

How do you feel about Manitoba’s plans for cannabis?

Well, as soon as I heard that Manitoba was allowing mom-and-pop shops for cannabis I was ready to pack up and head back until I heard that you had to sell government LP (licensed producer) weed.

I will not sell that garbage.

One of Manitoba’s LP’s, Delta 9 Cannabis, only has 5-6 products and their best THC is 14-15%! When I got raided, they sent my stuff to Delta 9 to get tested and my shittiest stuff had 20% and the best I had was 28%- and now Manitoba is saying that cannabis from Delta 9 and others like them are the only cannabis that people can buy?

Who’s going to go to them? It’s just going to make the black market stronger than ever in Manitoba.

manitoba glenn price

Photo courtesy of John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

It doesn’t give anybody any freedom to pick their growers and choose where their cannabis comes from.

Exactly, and with all the focus on recreational, nobody’s speaking about medical cannabis anymore.

I opened a medical cannabis shop- not recreational- and I only sold to medical patients.

I thought when Delta 9 first got going they signed a contract that said they were not allowed to open storefronts. So what’s changed since then? Why didn’t they change the laws for me?

Delta 9 is trying to monopolize the industry in Manitoba and because of that Manitoba is going to have a bigger black market than they do already.

And you don’t think anybody will want to buy that LP cannabis?

No. I know for a fact because nobody in Manitoba would buy it when I had my shop. Why did they all come to me? Why didn’t they go to Delta, Tilray, or Tweed?

Speaking of Tweed, my wife has smoked since I’ve known her, and that’s the only weed I’ve seen her refuse. She will not smoke that moldy shit. It’s disgusting.

Plus, if the LP’s have that monopoly, there is zero incentive for them to make their products better.

Why would they?

I think what’s going to happen in Manitoba is that with all of these big businesses that are coming in, they might make a little money at first, but once everyone realizes what their product is, the customers are going to go back to where they were getting it before.

How do you feel about the government saying that LP weed is better because they have better standards and testing?

I don’t think so, not at all. Like I said, the THC percentages for cannabis at my store were between 20-28%, and Delta 9’s best stuff is around 15-16%.

And with government LP’s, the only time you hear about a recall is after everyone has already smoked it! Any dispensaries would have caught that before it went out on the shelf!

When I opened my store, if you bought anything from me that you didn’t like, I’d return it, let you exchange it for something else, or give you your money back. I gave you those options, and none of these government LP’s are doing that at all. Or compassion pricing. I used to have products for $3/gram! Are LP’s going to have compassion pricing for people? They’re only in it for the cash.

So do you think the rest of Canada should follow what BC is doing?

Yes, exactly that.

Like any other business you want to start, you pay your taxes, but you aren’t forced to get your supply from the government. If I wanted to sell clothes, I could get knock-offs from wherever and sell them, and it’s up to the customers if they want to buy them.

Why should we be forced to buy our product from the government regime?

If the government wants a $1/gram tax, they can have that tax, we’ll just sell it cheaper to keep the price at where it is now. We can eat that tax- just let us do it!

The government is making us criminals before we even have a chance.

Is your business, Your Medical Cannabis HQ, still open in Winnipeg?

No, I shut it down, or else I’d be in jail right now. They came once, told me to close and I said ok and shut it down for the day. They came back a second time and told me to close again and I said no, so the third time they came back and arrested me.

The reason I did it is because when you start something you do it until the end, and I did it as far as I could.

I don’t want these big companies to come in and monopolize the industry. We brought it this far, and all of a sudden they’re jumping in?

And besides, if what I was doing was such a problem, why did Manitoba give me a business license in the first place? I didn’t hide the fact that I was doing one-on-one consultations and selling cannabis products.

manitoba

Could you tell me a little about your history in the cannabis community?

I’ve smoked cannabis my whole life, and I never got out of Manitoba until about 6 years ago when my wife and I came to BC for the first time. That was when the whole cannabis dispensary thing was getting started, and we went on Commercial Drive and found you could buy cannabis, but it was closed because it was a Sunday.

Over the next few years, it got easier and easier. And then Jim’s Weeds opened on Hastings. We went in, got signed up, saw the doctor, and I said to them, “You know what? I want to open a shop like this in Winnipeg” and they said find a location and we’ll supply you. My wife thought I was nuts, and I don’t think I became an activist until I opened Your Medical Cannabis HQ in Winnipeg.

If you went back to Manitoba and opened up another shop, would you consider selling recreational?

If I went back right now, I would only do medical until July because I know what Manitoba is like. If you’d asked that question and I hadn’t been arrested, then yeah, I’d be selling recreational right now.

Have you thought about opening up in Vancouver?

I would love to open up in Vancouver and I’ve actually looked around and called a few places but the rent is like WOW. $12,000 a month for a shack on Hastings?! That’s how much I paid a year in Manitoba.

What are your plans for the next little bit? Are you going to stay in Vancouver or move back to Manitoba?

I’ll be in BC for the next year and a half at least, until my probation is over.

But if I successfully plead my case and its overturned before July 1st, I’ll be going back to Manitoba.

But I love Vancouver too, and even after I move back to Manitoba, I’d still be visiting multiple times a year, for the city and its people. There’s big differences, even in the small things. Like in Manitoba, you’d never hear anybody thank the bus driver like they do here in Vancouver and it’s so weird to me!

Do you think the compassionate, people-focused services you provided at Your Medical Cannabis HQ are going to be lost with legalization on July 1st?

I think the politicians need to see first-hand what the people can do, and not just listen to big business. My shop was one-on-one consultations and I dealt with everybody as an individual- not like in Vancouver where it’s just “Next, next, next!”

I did my best to help everybody in every way that I could.

I had this 65 year old lady come into my shop and grab the biggest bong on the shelf. I looked at her and asked if she’d ever smoked in her life, weed or cigarettes, and she said no. I laughed at her, apologized, and told her she wasn’t going to like it. She fired it up and coughed for a few minutes and said that she didn’t like that at all, so I gave her some infused coconut oil and showed her how to make it. She liked that much better than the bong.

Her name was Mary, and she ended up being one of my biggest advocates, bringing in the seniors who wanted to get signed up because they didn’t want any more pain.

Were the seniors trying to use cannabis as an alternative to prescription drugs?

Yeah because they didn’t want that anymore. They wanted what Mary had, because she used to go to a pain management clinic and ended up getting kicked out because she had no more pain!

It worked for them when nothing else did.

I remember another guy, in his early 30’s, who’d done two or three tours with the army, and it almost made me cry when I learned how much cannabis helped him. His girlfriend told me was having bad dreams and the medications they were giving him were screwing him up.

This plant helps so many different ailments, and the government will crucify you if you try to help people.

manitoba

Photo courtesy of CBC

Did you ever feel like you had a target on your back?

Yeah, but it was because I was the first- but someone’s got to speak up because if they don’t, nothing will ever change. You need to speak to your beliefs and I believed that mom-and-pop shops should be allowed to open in Manitoba.

I did everything that I knew how to keep it legal. I applied for the business licenses and the occupancy permit- the occupancy permit was the hardest to get, and it took over three months!

But that’s how the Liberals are. After I got raided, Trudeau even supported my shop, and I later dealt with Kevin Lamoureux, a Liberal politician in Manitoba, whom I met many times over 5-6 months- at his office, at my shop- and he told me to write to the Standing Committee on Health, and so I did and never heard anything back. Then he said that they’d fly me out there to hear what I had to say, and that never happened either.

But that’s how these politicians are. They’ll tell you what you want to hear but do they follow up on it? They don’t care about us. All they care about is our votes.

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Published at Tue, 28 Nov 2017 01:08:20 +0000

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Why some communities are pushing back hard against California cannabis farms

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Why some communities are pushing back hard against California cannabis farms

Why some communities are pushing back hard against California cannabis farms

COPPEROPOLIS, Calif. — The four young men had just started their marijuana harvest in rural Northern California when a dozen sheriff’s deputies swooped in with guns drawn, arrested them and spent the day chopping down 150 bushy plants with machetes.

“I could do this every day if I had the personnel,” Calaveras County Sheriff Rick DiBasilio said during the operation near the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Copperopolis, about two hours east of San Francisco.

Authorities this year have cut down close to 30,000 plants grown without permits in a county that is reconsidering its embrace of marijuana cultivation ahead of statewide legalization.

“There are just so many of them,” the sheriff said of the illegal farms. “It’s never-ending.”

Marijuana has deeply divided financially strapped Calaveras County, among many where growers are increasingly open about their operations and are starting to encroach on neighborhoods.

DiBasilio estimates the county — population 44,000 and about the size of Rhode Island — has more than 1,000 illegal farms in addition to the hundreds with permits or in the process of obtaining them. The influx has caused a backlash among residents and led to the ouster of some leaders who approved marijuana cultivation.

Cannabis farmers operating legally, meanwhile, say they are helping the local economy and have threatened to sue over attempts to stop them.

California is set to issue licenses in January to grow, transport and sell weed for recreational purposes, nearly 20 years after the state first authorized the drug’s consumption with a doctor’s recommendation.

Farmers can legally grow marijuana for recreational consumption next year but are required to get a local permit before applying for a state license, which has sparked a boom in pot-friendly counties.

Calaveras County legalized medical marijuana cultivation last year, seeking to tax the hundreds of farms that popped up in the region after a 2015 wildfire destroyed more than 500 homes.

County officials expected to receive about 250 applications by the 2016 deadline. They got 770. About 200 applications have been approved, a similar number rejected, and the others are still being processed.

The sheriff gets some of the nearly $10 million in fees and taxes paid by legal farmers to crack down on illegal grows, many of which the department has mapped from the air.

The new pot farms have brought a bustling industry that includes the sounds of generators, bright lights illuminating gardens at night, water trucks kicking up dust on their way to grows, the distinct odor of marijuana, and tents, trailers and other temporary housing for migrant workers.

Local hardware stores’ gardening sections are now stocked with pot farming supplies.

Story continues below gallery

In this Sept. 29, 2017 photo, Calaveras County Sheriff Rick DiBasilio gestures while raiding a marijuana growing operation in unincorporated Calaveras County, Calif. DiBasilio says he has his hands full cracking down on thousands of illegal farms in a county that has legalized cultivation for medicinal use. Growers illegal and legal have are increasingly open about their operations and starting to encroach on neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Law enforcement officials say they have raided farms where they have found pesticides that are banned in the U.S.

“It has changed our way of life,” said Bill McManus, head of an organization seeking to ban marijuana in Calaveras County. “The environmental impacts are atrocious.”

To the north, even the fabled pot-growing mecca known as the Emerald Triangle has been thrown into political turmoil as more farmers set up shop ahead of legalization.

The California Growers Association estimates about 3,500 farmers in Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties have applied for local permits and will be in a position to receive state licenses. An additional 29,000 farmers there haven’t bothered with the paperwork, according to the group.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman complained that local laws allowing cultivation are too “gentle” and attract violent crime, including a farmworker’s recent homicide.

In Siskiyou County, leaders declared a state of emergency and called on Gov. Jerry Brown to help with an influx of marijuana farmers, who have snatched up inexpensive land even though pot cultivation is illegal there. Two growers were arrested and charged with offering Sheriff Jon Lopey $1 million to leave their farms alone.

“That’s all you need to know about the type of money involved,” Lopey said. “This isn’t confined to the state. There’s a big market outside of California they are supplying.”

In Calaveras County, voters in January replaced four of the five supervisors who voted to legalize marijuana. The new majority has vowed to repeal legalization and institute a strict ban. But a formal vote has been delayed several times amid threats of lawsuits from farmers.

“So much of this is a cultural war,” grower Beth Witke said. “I’m tired of being demoralized by the ban supporters.”

Witke and other farmers argue they create good-paying jobs for young adults who otherwise would leave the county for the San Francisco Bay Area. She is among a handful of growers who operated quietly in Calaveras County for decades, attracted by the region’s climate and proximity to the Bay Area.

But the devastating 2015 wildfire helped launch the county’s green rush. The fire leveled subdivisions and wooded areas, turning them into attractive farmland. Former homeowners sold their flattened lots to outside growers armed with cash and betting the county would issue permits to grow.

Mark Bolger received the first permit. He said a ban would drive out him and his dozen workers.

“I’m trying to do the right thing,” Bolger said. “But the first guy through the door always gets shot.”

The sheriff said he’s focused on farmers who have never applied for a permit or who grow despite a rejected application. This year, he has raided about 40 farms and seized close to 30,000 plants.

In late September, deputies raided two farms that share a waterline west of Copperopolis and removed more than 300 plants. Three of the four farmers arrested were new arrivals from Minnesota. All four tended to another plot deputies raided in August.

They were cited and released. One of them — Ryu Lee, 22, of Redding — told deputies taking him to jail that he would return regardless of whether a ban was enacted.

“I’ll see you next year,” Lee said.

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Published at Fri, 24 Nov 2017 20:56:01 +0000

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