Preparing for the upcoming federal confrontation on legalized marijuana

Norm Stamper has a good little piece in the Huffington Post: Washington State to the ‘Other’ Washington: Look But Don’t Touch

We now respectfully invite the federal government to look at, indeed to study our decision and its implementation. But we also ask the feds to keep their hands off our new law.

For years, decades, federal officials have snubbed science, avoided honest conversation, refused to debate the issues. With the administration (and Congress) rejecting calls to examine the economic, moral, and social costs of marijuana prohibition, the smartest thing it can do now is to monitor our incubator baby, give it a chance to survive and become a model for how to end an obscenely expensive and failed drug war.

It’s a good sentiment and a logical one — after all, what government that actually cared about the general welfare of its population wouldn’t look at this as a learning opportunity? But then, our federal government has not been particularly interested in logic or the general welfare.

The DOJ has been remarkably mute on the subject, choosing to let loose-cannon Kevin Sabet act as unofficial spokesperson for the federal government and anti-legalization.

However, if our experience with medical marijuana is any indication, then we can expect the DEA and the U.S. Attorneys to be gearing up for the confrontation.

So now is the time to consider strategies…

What seems to be pretty much a given is that the DEA will not go after consumers. They simply don’t have the staff to do it. 99% of possession arrests are by state and local police — if they’re not doing it under the new law (and they certainly better not be), then the feds can’t do much about it.

So, as with medical marijuana, they’ll go after the big suppliers. That’s almost impossible to defend against — the government’s ability to seize property and the visibility of large suppliers makes it easy picking.

So, to the extent possible, the smart thing would be to push for a lot of small suppliers — make it hard for the DEA to go after them and less of a loss if they do.

Pot Trucks

Perhaps the legal marijuana industry can take a page from the Food Truck fad. Create a fleet of pot trucks that can park in towns in regular parking spots and sell from the truck. Keep only one day’s supply on the truck. No land to seize and no valuable buildings. They could even sell food from the trucks.

If the DEA starts seizing trucks, go to the bike vendors. It would be quite a sight to see the DEA trying to chase these down.

Obviously all these things have to be worked out with the language of the state laws and it probably won’t be that simple.

But the point is that it should be possible to get creative and come up with ways to make it prohibitively difficult for the federal government to interfere (or embarrassing PR). That may mean that it’ll also be harder for anyone to make big profits — but that’s OK to me if it means getting a workable legal system in place and driving the federal government out of local enforcement.

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58 Responses to Preparing for the upcoming federal confrontation on legalized marijuana

  1. TINMA says:

    If people dont already know how to do it, micro grows work great. With the right know how, its easy to grow couple ounces in small places. Lets see the feds chase these down too lol.

  2. darkcycle says:

    I like your thinking Pete, I really do. 😉

  3. claygooding says:

    With a 100 plant limit(as reported by the DEA)and no help from the state law enforcement agencies,,,it will be impossible to shut down micro grows,,hell,it was impossible to do that yesterday,,when it was illegal everywhere and state & local police were helping.

  4. Klay says:

    1 (800) 4AJoint – Pizza and Marijuana – we take care of your munches too (years ago I thought that would be a great delivery number…

    I agree distributors will need to think small or they will be targeted.

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  6. nobody says:

    If the feds crack down too hard on sales, they will just encourage more people to grow marijuana in Colorado but sell it out of state. So in addition to the smuggling routes along the 2000 mile US-Mexico border, Colorado just adds 1300 miles of border the feds have to patrol. The more states that legalize, the more impossible that task becomes.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Where in the world did this thing about “smuggling” routes come from? Why in the world would we import cheap muscatel when we can produce as much vintage Dom Perignon as our little hearts desire in our backyards? If the Mexicans want to preserve their market share they need to learn how to grow quality pot for export.

      • claygooding says:

        Duncan,,since you don’t partake of the brick now being brought across the border,,the marijuana they are shipping is a lot less seeded and seems a little better each year,,so the growers in Mexico are adjusting.

  7. Dante says:

    I forsee the federal government, and specifically the drug wariors, feeling threatened by this move to curtail its’ “aw-thor-itay”.

    Drug warriors, when threatened, react the same way every time – with false concern for the children, warnings that national security is in danger, and violence.

    So that’s it. Prepare for endless, screeching, sanctimoneous speeches about saving the children, and violence. Lots of violence. Those who make a living off of the war on drugs won’t give up without a fight. In fact, fighting/harming people who don’t resist and have not harmed anyone is the drug warriors “mission”.

    Who would have such a ridiculous purpose in life?

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  8. Common Science says:

    Fledgling entrepreneurs of vertical standing might want to consider this addition to their levels of furnishings and staff:

  9. Jeff Trigg says:

    In Washington, the feds will just threaten the state liquor control board with arrest if they issue any licenses. No licenses will be issued for the foreseeable future I’d predict. Pot trucks ain’t happening in Washington, either, under their warped scheme.

    • Common Science says:

      My blissful nomination for the (Merriam Webster) word of the day:


      3: a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly ; a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind

      • claygooding says:

        Duh,,you saying to grow your own?

        • Common Science says:

          Clay; I was originally trying to get JT to see that this first baby step into a constrained legalization model is just a means to an end (it got the numbers of straights needed to cautiously accept this model at the polling stations). A double-spaced rough draft of a hypothesis on lined paper, not carved in granite for generations to adhere to. As the rest of the states jockey to catch up to these outbreaks of evolution, legislation will be constantly tweaked to maximize the desires of increasing state revenues in the new paradigm. One where society would benefit from an empowered medical profession that could have more authority than law enforcement regarding ‘problem users’.

          And yes, it would be nice to know that a number of people directly or indirectly marginalized by the WoD now get a chance to immediately benefit by their ability to think outside the box, as demonstrated on this post. A revived barter system, for one, could feasibly benefit scores of creative people that get going at the starter’s pistol.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      It’s amazing how many people think that the CSA forbids all manners of things that just aren’t part of the law. No my friend, it isn’t illegal to participate in the mundane bureaucratic tasks of licensing and zoning. I just don’t need any of that shit to become a vendor of substances on the Federal naughty lists.

      See County of San Diego v San Diego NORML, 165 Cal. App. 4th 798; 81 Cal. Rptr. 3d 461 (certiorari denied 2009)

  10. Ben says:

    The REAL way to fight the Feds is with force. If Colorado truly wants legal pot shops, it can have them. But it requires a governor willing to deploy national guard troops to protect the store(s) from assaults launched by hostile federal agents.

    • RudolfSKnoopkraft says:

      I’d pay to watch that.

    • Dante says:

      That is the problem, Rudolf.

      The government makes us pay for their f’ups.

      We need to turn it around, and make the government pay us when they mess up. You know, accountability?

  11. n.t. greene says:

    I think the floodgates have only begun to open, and people are going to take issue with increased DEA expenditures regarding something that is legal in various ways in their state.

    If the feds fail to totally defeat these measures, I see other states moving towards a legal framework soon — which is why I predict relatively little, if high profile, resistance. If this survives a challenge, it could be the end of the CSA as we know it.

  12. N.T. Greene says:

    OT: Is DWR going to make an appearance on Google+ at some point? Or is it already there and I just don’t know how to link to it?

  13. Mikekinseattle says:

    I think the Obama administration will lay off, and see how we implement the obvious will of the people. We not only won, we’re winning easily. 502 will get roughly the same number of votes as Obama in WA. That’s a mandate. I’m worried about our nervous nellies in state govt, though, including the new gov, who might run and hide when the feds say boo. We need to insist that democracy be honored. This is, indeed, a paradigm shift. The walls will come tumbling down.

  14. Jeff Trigg says:

    “99% of possession arrests are by state and local police — if they’re not doing it under the new law (and they certainly better not be), then the feds can’t do much about it.”

    Under the new law in Washington, the state and local police can and will be arresting people for possessing unlicensed cannabis. I-502 only legalized licensed cannabis, not all cannabis. Only the state liquor control board can issue licenses for cannabis, and all cannabis must be tested and labeled properly before it is licensed. Home grown is still illegal too. It’d be nice if the state and local police in Washington would stop all cannabis arrests, but under the new law they can still arrest you for having the “wrong” cannabis in your possession.

    I still need to read the Colorado law. Hope it isn’t over 60 pages like Washington’s, which looks like it was written by a bunch of nannies wanting to create a government monopoly on cannabis. Considering the state just relaxed their state authority over alcohol recently, that 60 page mess in Washington doesn’t surprise me.

    Let’s hope I-502 doesn’t meet the same fait as the medical cannabis bill passed in Illinois in the 1970s. The legislature passed a bill to allow a medical cannabis program to be put in place, but there still is no medical cannabis in Illinois because no Governor, Attorney General, or state court has ever ordered the State Police and Dept. of Health to implement a medical cannabis program. If it takes 40 years for I-502 to be implemented by the Democrat politicians in the state, that would be really sad.

    • darkcycle says:

      Okay, Jeff. That’s utter bullshit. Nowhere does it say “possession of licensed Cannabis” there is NOTHING other than a directive that the State implement the sales provisions of the law within one year. Look, Mary Sunshine, there’s no TAX STAMP, there’s no REQUIRED LABELS, as of this time there’s nothing to LABEL. This law CLEARLY states that Cannabis will be legal for adults to use and possess THIRTY DAYS AFTER THE ELECTION. The provision to tax and to sell is ONE YEAR out at minimum. Until then, cannabis is LEGAL. Where you got it is of no concern.
      You been looking for some excuse to piss all over our legs now for a whole day. Now you’re just fabricating crap. Go away.

      • Jeff Trigg says:

        60 pages of nothing, huh? Read it again for your own good. It must be labeled by lot numbers for one thing. You can only be licensed for one of three categories, manufacturer, processor, or retailer. A manufacturer can not process or retail what they make. Retailers must only sell sealed and labeled products that must show who the manufacturer, processor, and retailer were that are responsible for that product.

        If you want to defend I-502 as being perfect, be my guest. It isn’t perfect and things that aren’t perfect deserve and need criticism. If you can’t handle criticism without flying over the edge perhaps you should take your elitist attitude and go away. You are a complete fool if you think I-502 is all a bed of roses and the police won’t find ways to keep doing what they want.

        Is all cannabis legal right now? We’ll find out soon. If you’re right, no one will be arrested anytime soon. I wouldn’t risk my life on that belief and would caution others as well.

        • darkcycle says:

          Read it, I’ve committed most of it to memory. Maybe you better work on your reading comprehension skills. Never did I claim it was perfect. But between now and one year from now there’s a lot of grey area. You are reading content that isn’t there.
          People will not be arrested for possession. That’s the point, and you missed it in your hurry to pee all over the couch.

        • darkcycle says:

          From today’s Seattle Stranger:
          “What this means is that in one month, [in Washington] adults 21 and older can legally possess up to one ounce of bud, 16 ounces of solid-form marijuana food products, and 72 ounces of cannabis in liquid form (such as lotions or, like, a shocking volume of hash oil). You can also have pot paraphernalia.”

      • Jeff Trigg says:

        “The business or trade name and Washington state unified
        business identifier number of the licensees that grew, processed, and
        sold the marijuana, useable marijuana, or marijuana-infused product;
        (b) Lot numbers of the marijuana, useable marijuana, or marijuanainfused product;
        (c) THC concentration of the marijuana, useable marijuana, or
        marijuana-infused product;
        (d) Medically and scientifically accurate information about the
        health and safety risks posed by marijuana use; and
        (e) Language required by RCW 69.04.480;”

        Did you forget to memorize that part of it or something? Still claim utter bullshit? You flat out said there are no required labels and the very text of it proves what YOU are saying is utter bullshit. “People will not be arrested for possession.” Talk about reading content that isn’t there. Those words are dangerously wrong, as the very next arrest will prove beyond any doubt.

        I’m trying to be informative and increasing knowledge, all you are trying to do is be mean and misleading people into getting their lives ruined. You can unbunch your panties and put your skirt back on after you’ve re-examined your definition of bullshit.

        • claygooding says:

          Sooo,,,you buy a state bag of weed,,use that and the tooth fairy refills it while you are asleep,,then you luck out and get a magical bag of cookies that refills every time it gets low,,,and with one 72 ounce state labeled bottle,,filled with hash oil,,,screw the cookies

    • darkcycle says:

      In Washington State the Black Market in marijuana just became the Grey Market.

  15. N.T. Greene says:

    I am pretty sure the timeframe for implementation is a year, and I am not sure how one would be able to verify the “licensed” cannabis bit. If you had it in something aside from the original packaging, how could anyone know for sure?

    • Jeff Trigg says:

      Implementation timeframe is a year, but it does not say the state liquor control board must start issuing licenses to manufacturers, processors, and retailers within that time frame. The program has to be in place which describes the process to obtain a license, but there is no mandate for them to issue licenses that I could find anywhere.

      Page 20 lists the minimum labeling requirements. (darkcycle, should I expect an apology?)

      “The business or trade name and Washington state unified
      business identifier number of the licensees that grew, processed, and
      sold the marijuana, useable marijuana, or marijuana-infused product;
      (b) Lot numbers of the marijuana, useable marijuana, or marijuanainfused product;
      (c) THC concentration of the marijuana, useable marijuana, or
      marijuana-infused product;
      (d) Medically and scientifically accurate information about the
      health and safety risks posed by marijuana use; and
      (e) Language required by RCW 69.04.480;”

      As for how the cops can tell where the cannabis came from, you are right, they can’t, but that just means they will push the envelop to see what they can get away with until the courts tell them to stop. For right now, since no licenses to grow, process, or sell cannabis have been issued, the cops can assume all cannabis they come across is not licensed. That should end up in the courts, but I wouldn’t put it past some LEO to use that reasoning until the courts tell them to stop. California state and local cops were still arresting patients and shutting down co-ops until the courts told them to stop.

      “No licensed marijuana retailer or employee of a retail outlet shall open or consume, or allow to be opened or consumed, any useable marijuana or marijuana-infused product on the outlet premises.”

      If the package is opened and you are in public, or if you have it in a different opened package, guess what the cops will assume?

      “It is unlawful to open a package containing marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuana-infused product, or consume marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuanainfused product, in view of the general public. A person who violates
      this section is guilty of a class 3 civil infraction under chapter 7.80 RCW.”

      They’ll hit you with that. Reminds me of how NY cops got around their decrim laws.

      • darkcycle says:

        I said “as of this time”…none of that stuff has bee decided, only directed. I’m not going to pick nits. There are minimum labeling requirements, but not until the State scheme is implemented. We’ll see what the arrest rates go to. I’ll bet they go to zero in Western Washington, and next to zero in the East. I’m sure some over eager sheriff will press his or her luck. The courts are gonna crap all over them.
        No apology here. I still think you just came in here to piss all over the place.

        • darkcycle says:

          geez. It’s like DdC without the word salad.

        • Jeff Trigg says:

          Bodily functions is the best response you’ve got for direct quotes from the sausage that just passed? You sound just like a prohibitionist sticking to their guns in the face of logic, reason and facts.

          It already passed. I’m not trying to talk anyone out of voting for it or trying to defeat it, so I must be pissing or something? You make no sense. The sausage has been made so you don’t have to keep ignoring or defending what was put in the sausage. Get your ego and emotions in check darkcycle, “piss all over the place” is an ignorant, vapid, and meaningless insult that is instructive toward the content of your character. “As of this time” is bullshit, the sausage was voted on and passed.

        • darkcycle says:

          Gee, and that was the very best I could come up with, too. I will feel so defeated, I’m sure. (when I’m done feeling DAMN good about passing I-502).
          Ignorant, vapid and meaningless, maybe, but if the shoe fits…

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  18. Uncle Albert's Nephew says:

    I’d just love to be a fly on Melvin Sembler’s wall tonight. He’s got to be going nuts.

  19. Duncan20903 says:


    I’ll make it official and go on record in predicting that the Feds won’t challenge these laws. The fact of the matter is that they have no legal standing to do so. It just isn’t enough for the laws to be in “conflict” there has to be a Constitutional basis.

    All I’m asking is that we set a time limit. For crying out loud there are still people expecting the Federal cavalry to come over the horizon at any moment and strike down the medicinal cannabis patient protection laws. After 16 years spanning 3 separate presidential administrations that’s just plain silly. I say another 5 years is the outside time frame. That gives the next POTUS a year to have his say and will have given the Feds more than 2 decades to decide to challenge these laws.

    It just isn’t going to happen.

    • darkcycle says:

      I’ll second that and make it my prediction, too. But to that I’ll add: If they go to court, they risk the whole ball of wax. They won’t go there.

      • claygooding says:

        ditto,,how do you justify attacking a policy voted in by the people,,in a land where the government is the people,,allegedly.

  20. strayan says:

    Here’s a good article:

    the Supreme Court has not fully spoken on the constitutionality of federal cannabis prohibition. It has never, that is, squarely tested the CSA as applied to activities that would have been protected by the RCTCA. U.S. v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Collective was a statutory ruling91 and Gonzales v. Raich held only that the CSA is generally a permissible exercise of Congress’ commerce power, and that the DEA may thus enforce it.92 This question is distinct from whether federal cannabis prohibition violates the equal liberty principle as articulated in the Court’s 14th Amendment case law. As Husak observes, further,

    “a right to use drugs is unlikely to be explicitly included in (a) constitution. But this concession does not settle the matter; rights to marry or to use contraceptives are equally improbable candidates for explicit inclusion, (as are) decisions about what foods to eat or what clothes to wear …. Many questions about the scope of constitutional protection afforded to such conduct are unexplored in our legal system, mainly because liberal states have rarely sought to punish them. No case law exists about issues that have never been addressed.” 93

    Beyond this, secondly, we saw that the Frank/Paul bill was recently introduced in the House. While it will not receive a hearing any time soon, it reminds us that federal cannabis prohibition is not necessarily a permanent legal fact. If States vote to end cannabis prohibition under their law, it can only increase pressure on Congress to pass a law like Frank/Paul. Our Constitution allows several avenues for reform, and one of them is that of States sending a message to Washington by protecting liberties the latter seeks to criminalize.

    Finally, Professor Mikos recently noted an important distinction. When Congress legalizes an activity that has been banned by state law, he observes, all agree that the latter is unenforceable. By contrast, he argues, when Congress criminalizes a liberty that has been protected by a State, neither the legal status nor the practical import of the state law is clear.94 This is consistent with the well-established principle that States may, if they wish, protect individual rights under their constitutions at a higher level than does the U.S. Constitution.95 Again, thus, it is at best an open question whether the mere existence of federal cannabis prohibition renders a contrary right under state law void.

    Yet for the sake of argument, let us assume otherwise – that a revised RCTCA would directly conflict with the CSA, triggering preemption. Falcon, advising those revising the RCTCA, must assume this. Yet from the broader perspective of a citizen voting on such measures, to conclude that nothing can or should be done at the state level to oppose federal prohibition assumes that what is, ought to be. Since prohibition is the law, this view holds, we ought simply to accept rather than to oppose it. Had such a view prevailed in the past, of course, there would never have been a 14th Amendment, or even a Declaration of Independence. Progress in the law has always necessarily depended on the distinction between what the law is and what it ought to be in light of deeper, enduring principles.96 The critics’ premise that we ignore this distinction is thus indefensible. If there are compelling reasons to oppose a gross inconsistency in the law, especially the criminal law, then it is the right of democratic citizens to resist it. Indeed, it is their duty, especially where the means employed – voting – are lawful. Unlike civil disobedience, militancy, or revolution,97 in fact, voting is not just legal, it is a fundamental constitutional right.98

    In this light, USA Today’s claim that “legalization is a decision that should be made by the entire country, not just one state,”99 misunderstands the role of our federalism. As Justice Brandeis famously wrote, “it is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”100

    This is especially so with a classic police power concern like cannabis regulation. Boychik writes that “though there may be excellent reasons for California to go toe to toe with the federal government over the federalism question, does it really have to about this issue? Right now?”101 The answer is yes. As with the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell,” if it is the right thing to do, it is the right thing to do now. Indeed, Falcon notes, not only is there a “strong argument to be made for the value in varied laws,”102 but “when legalization comes, it will not start at the federal level…. State action is the only way to legalize marijuana.”103

  21. darkcycle says:

    Changing the subject, mass incarceration and the plea bargain:

  22. darkcycle says:

    here’s another result we should be celebrating: California scraps it’s three strikes law. Oh, it’s been a GOOD day!

  23. By The Oregonian Editorial Board:
    Oregon lawmakers should take up marijuana legalization.

    The most sane response to legalization that I have heard.

    I portend bad things if Obama doesn’t reconsider his uninformed policies about the drug war and marijuana.

  24. primus says:

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but isn’t Alaska already a state where possession in one’s own home is legal? That would make three states total, not two.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      primus, Alaska is de facto legal in a person’s private home. But that’s because the residents of Alaska have a very strong protection of a right to privacy in their State Constitution which prevents State authorities from collecting and using the evidence required to gain a conviction under that State’s law. The Alaska Legislature has never repealed the law against possession of cannabis. We could also say that Alaska has legal pot in a person’s private home in much the same way that Holland has legal pot sales in their coffee shops, i.e. it isn’t.

      But there really is a big difference between repealing a law and having another law that prevents a person from being prosecuted because the authorities can’t gather the evidence needed to convict and something being legal. Perhaps the better way to describe it would be to say that if the voters amend the Alaska State Constitution by removing the right to privacy that a person in possession of cannabis could then be tried and convicted under current law.

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  26. darkcycle says:

    GEEZUZ. The feet are aready starting to drop. And it’s a stampede! Mexico’s new government says U.S. marijuana votes are a game changer for drug policy: Holy Herbs, Batman! This legalization stuff sure is catching on fast!

  27. darkcycle says:

    Wait a minute. The f*cking ground is shaking. This thing my be weaker than it looked.

  28. Cliff says:

    Smell our glove Mr. President and Congress. You laughed off our requests to discuss and debate the legalization of cannabis as if we would just go away. While you were chuckling, we took the bull by the horns and did something about it. Now the die has been cast, your move.

    Here we are, come and get us. You better pack a sack lunch because, all 55% of us in Colorado who voted to put the legalization of cannabis in our constitution are waiting for the threatened legal action and jack boots of the DEA. We are not afraid anymore and we will not be ignored or ridiculed by the likes of you and your ilk.

    Mmmmm, your tears are yummy. I can’t wait for your feeble attempts to spin this momentous pwning of your pet cannabis laws as somehow fooling the voters. The voters knew perfectly well what they were voting for. They want you to stop harrassing everyone who enjoys cannabis here in Colorado, and hopefully this spreads everywhere else in the US.

    It’s also very interesting to note that there were no airplanes falling out of the sky, no cannabis fueled mayhem and riots, no escalation of crime, no mass child raping and no auto collisions all over the roads. No, the world didn’t spin off its axis and everything is OK. Now do your jobs and figure out how to make this work and stop with the foot dragging, snivelling and empty threats. The people have spoken!

    • Duncan20903 says:


      You know, by this time it’s really takes quite a stretch of the imagination to claim that the voters of Massachusetts were “scammed” into passing that State’s new medicinal cannabis patient protection law. If the prohibitionist clowns are going to continue to insist that such patient protection laws are simply a “backdoor” to re-legalization then it’s about time for them to admit that the Massachusetts voters approved of that backdoor being used.

  29. mr. ikashini says:

    As stated previously, Medical MJ has been around for what; 15 years, pharmaceutical corporations aren’t hurting. There is no logical reason for push back! This author assumes that the observers view this through the prism of objectivity and reason.

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  32. Don says:

    So it seems that Washington gov is creating a monopoly on marijuana. It’s wonderful that voters legalized it, but can’t grow their own? Why not, except they are worried about loss of tax revenue, even though a person paid tax on all materials needs to grow their own; I think Colorado allowing a certain number of plants per adult is right thing to do.
    If we make something legal then it should be legal!!!

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