Drug Czar-speak

From an interview with the Texas Tribune

TT: You said in El Paso recently that decriminalization, or legalization of some illegal drugs is not an option, that is off the table. Why?

Kerlikowske: Well, one the administration’s stance is opposing legalization. When the president was a candidate, he opposed legalization. We don’t see any evidence that legalizing drugs and making them more widely available would be a help to anyone in this country.

Well gee, if you can’t see it, it just must not exist.

The second part is that, just from a common-sense standpoint, our No. 1 growing drug problem in the country, including fatalities, is prescription drugs. Well, prescription drugs are highly regulated, highly taxed, highly controlled, and yet we are completely incapable of keeping them out of the hands of kids, out of the hands of people abusing drugs and the evidence is very clear when it comes to fatalities and when it comes to emergency department visits.

No, that’s not common-sense. Making those prescription drugs illegal wouldn’t solve the problem of people abusing those drugs either. The issue isn’t whether legalization will end the drug problem. It won’t. We never said it would (although it’ll help in many ways). What it will do is end the drug war problem.

TT: A lot of people here in Texas say the United States is responsible for the bloodshed in Mexico. Can you be a little bit more specific on why legalization would not quell the violence in Mexico?

Kerlikowske: I think the RAND Corporation study not only says that legalizing drugs would not reduce the violence in Mexico but the chaos could actually increase the violence in Mexico.

RAND has put out some pretty ridiculous things regarding the drug war, but I don’t believe that even they came close to such an outrageous statement.

Just to show how ridiculous that statement it, let’s turn to Mark Kleiman. Kleiman and I disagree on an awful lot regarding drug policy, and quite strongly.

But in this recent post about the Border Patrol agent who was fired for saying that legalization would end the violence in Mexico, Mark clearly and correctly states:

If selling cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine were made legal, there would be no illegal business in smuggling them into the United States from Mexico. If that illegal business were to disappear, the level of violence in Mexico would fall. So much is elementary and not subject to dispute by any rational person.

Exactly. But then, the position of drug czar is not really a rational one.

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52 Responses to Drug Czar-speak

  1. Gart says:


    It is just beyond believe how Kerlikowske has managed to get away with murder for so long. He has been trying to sell the same message to both national and foreign audiences. He gave the same answers to other interviewers during his recent visit to Latin American countries. He has deliberately distorted what RAND has published about drug legalisation. You can see for yourself:

    Kilmer, Beau , Jonathan P. Caulkins, Brittany M. Bond and Peter H. Reuter. Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico: Would Legalizing Marijuana in California Help?. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010.

    Gart Valenc

  2. Sick........! says:

    Kerlikowske: I think the RAND Corporation study not only says that legalizing drugs would not reduce the violence in Mexico but the chaos could actually increase the violence in Mexico.

    So what magical crystal ball does the RAND corp have that the rest of us dont? NONE ! And for the ONDCP to base its policy on one corporation study is …well you name it.

    How bout this Mr DRUG CZAR, name what keeping drugs ILLEGAL has done for our country and Mexico or the world for that matter. Ill tell ya, not one good thing. It doesnt keep drugs off the streets, outta kids hands nor outta prisons…a place with bars and locked doors and guards. It has created an army of dangerous thugs in the form of cartels and in the form of SWAT. It has taken an estimated Trillion dollars off the hands of tax payers and accomplished nothing good. So MR DRUG CZAR! What good are you and you agency? What are you and this government so afraid of? Why not try something different. Oh yes..money and power. You so dread the loss of that..and you do it at our expense.

    Maybe you should take a hard look around the world and tell us what you see. I see people fed up with governments and corruption and lies.

  3. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
    — Upton Sinclair (I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked)

  4. Gart says:

    Here is the link to the RAND study mentioned by Kerlikowske:


    I urge people to read it. Some people may disagree with what is said in this paper in particular, or the RAN in general, but I think anybody seriously interested in putting and end to the murderous and barbaric WoD policies cannot dismiss it.

    Disclaimer: in case anybody harbour any doubt, I do not belong, represent or lobby in favour of RAND or any institution or body for that matter.

    Gart Valenc

  5. claygooding says:

    The CEO of RAND is also a major board member of a pharmaceutical company.

    RAND group is the goto survey/statistical research group
    used by the ONDCP to direct it’s policies,show evidence of efficency(where)and sat at the table during the budget hearings last year.(before they shrank a reported 40 billion dollar marijuana market to 1,5 billion with a few strokes of a keyboard.

  6. kaptinemo says:

    DrugCzar gets to keep job by lying; Border Patrol Agent gets fired for telling the truth: Exclusive: Border guard fired, ‘interrogated’ for saying pot should be legalized

  7. darkcycle says:

    Ineresting. I had Kurly as my police chief, I’da never thunk I’d hate him this much as Drug Czar.

  8. warren says:

    If drugs were legal US govt profits would fall.Remember the contras. I`ll say again if mj use created violence it would have been legal long ago.This is a violent imperialistic society and we don`t need empathy,insight and reason. Therfore ban anything that does create this.

  9. Scott says:

    I visited the link to the RAND result (thank you, Gart), and read the first sentence of the summary:

    “U.S. demand for illicit drugs creates markets for Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and helps foster violence in Mexico.”


    Look at it this way:

    U.S. demand for alcohol creates markets for DTOs and helps foster violence where those DTOs operate.

    No. The black market for alcohol distribution (and its associated violence) ended when Alcohol Prohibition ended.

    I have no need to waste my time reading the rest of what RAND has the say on the matter, when they fail to get the first sentence right. Pathetic.

  10. darkcycle says:

    I mean, John Walters was just stupid and bigoted. He couldn’t help it. He was born for the role of Drug Czar. I just cannot escape the feeling that Kurley knows better, but just doesn’t give two shits about who has to suffer.

  11. Gart says:


    One shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on a single sentence. But having said that, I respectfully invite you to read the sentence again, for it does not say what you say it says.

    Gart Valenc

  12. darkcycle says:

    Gart, I think Scott meant that it is the prohibition of these substances that creates the black market and the opportunities for DTO’s, not the demand. The demand will remain no matter what, and be met under whatever framework is available, legal or otherwise.
    Demand doesn’t create the violence, it’s the attempt to thwart that demand. Scott’s got it right…

  13. Scott says:


    Here’s the link you posted:


    The first sentence on that page is:

    “U.S. demand for illicit drugs creates markets for Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and helps foster violence in Mexico.”

    How does that not say what I “say it says” (not to mention what our opponents clearly believe it says)?

    It probably goes without saying that the point of a summary is to provide an introduction to the corresponding material, the first line being the best opportunity to hook the reader in.

    The notion that the demand for illicit drugs causes black market violence in any way is flat-out wrong, and since it must play a prominent role in the result (which is why Mr. Drug Czar likes it so much), there is no need to take time out of my extremely busy life to explore any further on that front (noting I will leave you with the final say after this, since I must get back to work).

    As I made very clear, Alcohol Prohibition is actual evidence (not some think tank result from the likes of RAND) that user demand is not a factor in black market violence, completely opposing what the RAND folks chose to state first.

    All of this is moot, of course, since there is no rational way the original Commerce Clause (not the clearly unethical redefinition of it contained solely in Supreme Court decisions) authorizes the Controlled Substances Act to begin with (something RAND apparently chose to ignore, again to their discredit).

  14. malcolm kyle says:

    Bang on the money guys! This all reminds me of a boiler-plate I’ve seen laying about the place:

    Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use, among all echelons of society, is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation.

    By its very nature, prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model – the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous and ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved. Thus the allure of this reliable and lucrative industry, with it’s enormous income potential that consistently outweighs the risks associated with the illegal operations that such a trade entails, will remain with us until we are collectively forced to admit the obvious.

  15. allan420 says:

    OT but I’m compelled to post it… last night I watched a show from May 2010 on PBS’ Frontline – The Wounded Platoon:

    – NARRATOR: Since 2002, the number of Fort Carson soldiers diagnosed each year with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, has risen from 26 to 1,120, a rise of over 4,000 percent.

    – KENNY EASTRIDGE: I was having, like, a total mental breakdown. Every day, we were getting in battles and never having a break, it seemed like. It was just crazy. I just got to where I couldn’t take it. I tried to go to mental health, and they put me on all kinds of meds, too, and I was still going out on missions. Like, they had me on Ambien, Remeron, Lexapro, Celexa, all kind of different stuff. They tried different medications at different doses and nothing would work.

    – NARRATOR: The number of Fort Carson soldiers failing drug tests rose by 3,000 percent in the first three years of the Iraq War.
    – NARRATOR: Before the Iraq War, American soldiers in combat zones were not allowed to take prescription medications because it was difficult to get the drugs and the doctors to supervise their use to the front lines.

    But by the time of the surge, improved supply lines meant that more than 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were taking antidepressants and sleeping pills. These drugs enable the Army to keep soldiers with post-traumatic stress on the battlefield.

    – JOSE BARCO: They gave me eight or nine different medications. For every symptom of PTSD, they had a medication for it. You know, you couldn’t sleep, they’ll give you something. You got nightmares, they’ll give you something. You drank too much, they’ll give you something for that. You know, they were just pulling medications out of nowhere.

    C’mon Gil… dammitol®, people are sick of your lies and pontificating. You deny cannabis or even open discussion… and look what pharma is doing to our vets, our proclaimed heroes. We ain’t gonna take much more Gil.

    • Cliff says:

      I saw it too and I thought, “If these soldiers’ behavior is just the tip of the ice berg, then we are creating criminal maniacs with legal drugs.” So sad.

  16. claygooding says:

    What Allan said,,,and I will be glad to teach any vet how to grow their own medicine,,,,free.

  17. Duncan20903 says:

    I swear I read somewhere that the drug czar is required by law to lie through his teeth. Damn, who was the guy that wrote that piece? Well if I find it I’ll definitely come back and post a link. I know it was one of my regular haunts, I got that tip of the tongue thing going on. Did you know there’s actually a specific word for that phenomena?

  18. Duncan20903 says:

    Allan, I’ve been meaning to thank you for introducing me to the word excrementalism. I can’t recall the last time I was so thrilled to learn a new word. It’s one of my favorite things to but I think it’s been a decade or so since I’ve gotten to learn a word that I’ve needed so much. It gets by the censors on these online comments software, has a patina of respectability, and is just perfect for descriptions needed in particular when discussing the drug war as I’m known to do from time to time. Anyway, thanks! I think I’ve already had occasion to use it 5 times. I have no doubt that word is destined for listing in the dictionary. There’s just no good argument refudiating it.

    • Scott says:

      +1 for the word excrementalism!

      I almost excrementalized myself upon being introduced to that one word that brilliantly defines the war on drugs.

  19. darkcycle says:

    Bad Duncan. No pot brownie for you. That was so bad it was painful to read.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      God agreed with you. He punished me with a 11 hour power outage, with my doggone boiler failing as well. Got zapped about 30 seconds after I pushed the submit button. Sorry about that DC, it was all my fault.

  20. allan420 says:

    my pleasure Duncan… and it surely does fit, don’ it?

  21. claygooding says:

    (12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that–
    (A) is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
    (B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;

    I believe it falls under “take such action as necessary”
    and lies,false studies,skewed statistics and propaganda definitely are such actions.


  22. stevo says:

    I don’t recall Obama opposing legalization while running for office. He kept dropping hints that he might allow science and reason to actually influence policy. He talked about cutting expensive programs we can no longer afford. I think it was the old bait and switch. Kerli used this as his #1 reason that legalization was not an option.
    He’s trying to use the administration and the RAND study to hide behind.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      It’s strange how many in the reform movement are flat out disgusted with Mr. Obama’s betrayal of his implied support of the end of the stupidity of the war on (some) drugs since he supposedly claimed the opposite.

      When did lying to the public become a desirable thing? When did stealing people’s money become a virtue? Which event did I miss that made these things OK?

      A bill was introduced in the State of Washington to legalize cannabis and sell it in liquor stores.


      Perhaps in response to Sensible Washington filing a 2011 ballot initiative? I’m really enjoying watching the death throes of the war on (some) drugs. It almost makes it worth having lived through. Not quite, but almost.


  23. The Cabin says:

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  24. Sick........! says:

    “U.S. demand for illicit drugs creates markets for Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and helps foster violence in Mexico.”

    If US demand was cut, say by making drugs legal and maufacturing them here, then the market and violence in mexico would diminish greatly.Being produced and sold on an open market wold cut profit for violent people.

    Guess you gotta read what isnt said directly.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      All you have to do is convince the idiots that think the cartels “own” the “trade routes” and will continue business with usual with the exception of getting arrested if we re-legalize.

      Here’s where Mr. Kerlifries “logic” fails: “Well, prescription drugs are highly regulated, highly taxed, highly controlled, and yet we are completely incapable of keeping them…out of the hands of people abusing drugs and the evidence is very clear when it comes to fatalities and when it comes to emergency department visits.

      We don’t try to keep cigarettes “out of the hands of people abusing ‘drugs'” Why is letting idiots make there own choice to end up dead in the emergency room off the table? Seems we’ve sure managed to cut down on the number of kids smoking tobacco as well. Heck, we’ve gotten it so that less kids smoke tobacco than cannabis. Oh wait, I forgot, that’s not success in tobacco policy, that’s failure with cannabis policy. Gosh, look at California’s rate of people in “treatment” for cannabis addiction in California almost tripling between 1996 and 2009! It tripled to one of the lowest rates of people in “treatment” in the US. Even Hawaii with a total of 2004 “in treatment” for cannabis “addiction” in 2009 had a higher rate than California. Nevertheless the rate almost tripled! I keep forgetting to sign up for that course in basic logic that I so desperately need, probably a direct result of my cannabis “addiction” that would be obvious to me absent my being “in denial”. I really am an armadillo you know, if I’d just stop denying it I could get back to Texas where I belong, with all the other armadillos.

      Why do they call it “treatment” when they put 12 people in a room and berate them for not choosing to either genuflect or start goose stepping and sieg heiling when their masters snap their fingers? Perhaps Barack Obama would be the next Batman instead of Kim Jong Il if people would just comply. Do people really think that North Korea will keep their Nuclear program shut down once the movie is “in the can”? Perhaps if it doesn’t flop, and there’s a sequel to be made, but how likely is that?


  25. darkcycle says:

    Sick…!: That’s not CUTTING demand, thats MEETING demand. Nothing short of a miraculous reprogramming of the entire human psyche is going to reduce demand.

    • Sick........! says:

      Ah yes , I stand corrected. Meeting demand without the extra cost of incarceration and enforcement, the violence and deaths caused by its illegality, extra taxes. Sounds like a common sense approach…oh what…just seen the error in the plan…government doesnt run on common sense. Thats ever more apparent over the last 5-10 years.

  26. Chris says:

    (12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I

    Let me guess. The ONDCP commissioned the RAND report, now Gil uses it as evidence against legalization. Because it couldn’t have suggested anything else, or it would have been ignored like the Schaefer report. It’s just that we have this in law now so there’s no confusion.

  27. darkcycle says:

    If you can reduce demand, it becomes incumbent upon you to try to do that rather than legalizing and regulating, since argueably it would be less harmful to keep people off drugs in the first place. And there you are, caught in their logic trap.
    The fact is the demand will remain, I think history points that out abundantly.

  28. Windy says:

    “(12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that–
    (A) is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
    (B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;”

    And don’t forget it was Joe Biden (yes our current VP) who authored this act, who wrote those words and then pushed this abhorrent law (which created ONDCP, the position of “drug czar” and the mandate to lie thru their teeth) thru congress.

  29. DdC says:

    “Just from a common-sense standpoint,
    our No. 1 growing drug problem in the country,
    including fatalities, is prescription drugs.
    Why would we stop eradicating marijuana?
    It’s not lethal enough to be properly regulated,
    like prescription drugs.”
    ~ Czar Kashkowske

  30. Gart says:

    For what I can see from the discussion about Mr. Kerlikowske and RAND, things can get tangled very quickly. But then again, I feel the need to call the attention to ONDCP & Funding for Scientific Studies. Back in Dec. 2010, I made the following comment to Pete’s post: ONDCP specifically exempted from Scientific Integrity policy. Broadly speaking, I think the comment still applies:

    Pete, I need your help here. Unless the ONDCP have the power to ignore both the FDA recommendations and the Controlled Substance Act, you are barking at the wrong tree. I totally oppose the so-called War on Drugs (WoD) and believe it should be stopped, but think your post is rather misleading. Would you say that the Police are specifically exempted from Scientific Integrity? Of course not. The tragedy is that the WoD has never been informed by scientific principles. If that were the case, the consumption of drugs would have been considered long, long time ago a health issue, not a criminal one. And the WoD won’t have been engineered in the first place. We should continue denouncing the WoD for what it is: an irrational, inefficient and impractical policy. We cannot expect those who want to feed, nurture, propagate and enforce the WoD to adhere to scientific principles. The tail does not usually wag the dog!

    Gart Valenc

  31. DdC says:

    Rand Corp is not named for or associated with Ayn Rand;
    the name is an acronym for Research And Development.
    Kashkowske should listen more to Ayn Rand…
    and less to Researching and Developing ways
    to perpetuate wars…. $$$

    “A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context.”

    The only proper function of government is to protect man’s absolute rights against violation by other men. No government, no state, no collective has any “interest” apart from the individuals of which it is composed. Thus, it can have no “interest” which conflicts with any individual’s rights, such as a paternalistic interest in “maternal health.” Our Constitution was drafted in recognition of these principles. It was designed, not as a charter for government power, but as a protection against government power, i.e., against invasion of individual rights by the government. For this reason, the Constitution enumerates the limited powers of the government but not (as made clear in the Ninth Amendment) every individual right.
    The officers of The Association for Objective Law
    The Ayn Rand Center

  32. DdC says:

    “Arbitrary and capricious” is legal language that was used by DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young in 1988 to conclude that DEA was obligated under the Controlled Substances Act to reschedule marijuana as a prescription medicine. DEA Chief Administrator Robert Bonner proceeded to arbitrarily and capriciously disregard Judge Young’s well researched and reasoned decision, which the Act allowed him to do.

  33. Duncan20903 says:

    In 1979 we were hopefully high, thinking they might give us decrim of petty pot possession. In 2011 we are demanding re-legalization including a regulated market. We’ve got an additional 3 decades of supporting evidence with just say no zero tolerance buffoons fucking up our society as supporting evidence to back our arguments.

    You just say no clowns failed. Utter, abject failure, whether you admit it or not. You make sounds that seem to have a tone of authority, but your tone of voice won’t help you succeed when you’re mired in proven failure. Move out of the way, or get moved, those are your only choices, unless you’re willing to actually use those guns. Will you really do a repeat of Tienanmen Square in the US? You dimwits better think about this, because the time is coming where you’re going to have to make that very choice. I say you don’t have the mettle of the Red Chinese. We shall see. Unless you decide to concede, in which case we will offer the concession of agreeing to fete you for your extreme, manly, and well developed muscle, and your fearlessness in the face of adversity. Perhaps Mr. Obama can be the next Superman, much better than Batman because Batman can’t fly or travel through time. Unfortunately we can’t offer to not snicker at you behind your back, that just can’t be helped.

    We’re madder than hell and we’re not going to take it anymore. The bullshit stops now unless you’re really willing to make this an actual war. I guess we can call it Civil War 2, or the For Real Drugs War, or whatever catchy name you like, you can choose that as it’s unimportant. Are you sure it’s a good idea to take on an enemy ensconced in cities you just can’t bomb? Make sure to ask your wives in private if they’re going to cooperate if you decide that killing their children is a good idea. You may not have a problem killing your own children, but you might be surprised to find that your wives are with us if push comes to shove.

  34. Duncan20903 says:

    Impeach Baudler, medical marijuana backers say

    “A state representative who says he lied to obtain a medical marijuana prescription to prove a point against establishing such a program should be impeached for illegal acts, several citizens told lawmakers Wednesday.

    Rep. Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield, is a former state trooper who says he hates illegal drugs. He wrote in a newsletter to supporters in October that he had gone to California and lied about having hemorrhoids and depression to obtain a prescription to prove “how asinine it would be to legalize ‘medical marijuana.’ ”

    “I spent 15 minutes with this ‘doctor’ and six of those were used attempting to overcome the language barrier between us … ,” Baudler wrote in the newsletter.

    California law states that a person who fraudulently represents a medical condition to a doctor is subject to a $1,000 fine or six months in jail for a first offense. A message was left with the California attorney general’s office seeking comment on whether the action Baudler described could be considered a crime, but it had not been returned as of late Wednesday.” /snip/


    The clowns are going wild in the comments, amazing for a State with the first Board of Pharmacy in the US to recognize cannabis as a valid medicine, unanimously no less.


    • Sick........! says:

      According to an Iowa Poll released Tuesday, 64% of Iowans want medical marijuana to be legal. Now, if only the legislature will act on the recommendation of the board and the will of the voters

      Amazing how a majority wants something but is denied by government, whether it be state or federal, a minority. No wonder there are riots breaking out around the world, government everywhere think they are the majority.

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  36. ezrydn says:

    Question for Gil:

    What is the current price for the selling of one’s character?

    Still 30 pieces of silver, eh?

  37. darkcycle says:

    Duncan. STOP. Do not ASK for Tiananmen square. They will give it to you. Google “Bonus Army”.Right there across the street from the White House- U.S. Army Tanks and machine guns used against U.S. citizens. Desperate people do desperate things.
    Eleven hour? That’s critical.

  38. Duncan20903 says:

    Well I guess silly me seems to think that us degenerate Americans will meet the enemy with a little more than the poor Chinese peasants were able to muster. Something in my soul left over from 1776 or something equally silly.

    God I love history, thanks for the clue. Somehow it seems I’ve missed the Bonus Army story. But just FYI the White House isn’t in Anacostia, we don’t keep anything that’s white in Anacostia.

    Holy shit, how the fuck did I miss an actual military battle in DC in the 20th century?

  39. vicky vampire says:

    They think because demand went down for tobacco, they succeed at this, dream on.

  40. pam says:

    Stop the Govt’ from trying to “regulate and control illegal drugs”. And for gods sake please, people, stop trying to get the Govt to regulate cannabis.
    Prescription drugs are regulated and legal if it’s your script, but people still travel to Canada and Mexico to get the drugs cheaper or better yet, without a prescription! Most people don’t need a script for pot now so why make it worse on average citizen?
    Only sheple ask the Govt’ to do things for them.

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