All of 2022’s Cannabis Cup winners and where to buy them
Pink Certz, Animal Face, Spritzer, and more.
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Pink Certz, Animal Face, Spritzer, and more.
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We were 74% right about 2022. Just sayin’.
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Psychedelics including psilocybin are now officially decriminalized in Colorado, where voters decided last month to end criminal penalties for possessing the drugs. Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued a proclamation on Tuesday declaring that Proposition 122, also known as the Natural Medicine Health Act, had passed muster with the voters in last month’s election.
“Coloradans voted last November and participated in our democracy,” Polis said in a statement from the governor’s office. “Officially validating the results of the citizen and referred initiatives is the next formal step in our work to follow the will of the voters and implement these voter-approved measures.”
In his proclamation, Polis noted that Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold had certified on December 12 that Proposition 122 “was approved by a majority of the votes cast.” The ballot measure received more than 53% of the vote in the midterm election, garnering the approval of nearly 1.3 million voters on November 8.
The Natural Medicine Health Act creates a state-regulated therapeutic system for adults to access natural psychedelic medicines, such as psilocybin mushrooms, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline not derived from peyote. The measure decriminalizes the possession, cultivation, and sharing of the naturally occurring psychedelic drugs, and establishes a system for controlled distribution by licensed professionals in a therapeutic setting.
Psychedelics will be available under the guidance of a licensed and supervised facilitator at designated healing centers and healthcare facilities such as hospice centers. The medicines are prohibited from leaving the facilities, and no retail sales are allowed in any form.
“Prop. 122 puts the wellbeing of patients and communities first, removing harsh criminal penalties for personal possession and employing a multi-phase implementation process that will allow time to develop an appropriate safety and regulatory structure,” Josh Kappel, who co-authored the proposition and led the campaign for the successful ballot measure, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Under Colorado law, ballot measures approved by the voters do not go into effect immediately. The state constitution requires the governor to issue a proclamation declaring the majority vote for the proposition no later than 30 days after the state canvasses the election results.
Psychedelics such as psilocybin are receiving renewed interest in the potential of the drugs to treat a wide range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. The Food and Drug Administration has designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” but has not approved the use of the drug.
Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine released a new study showing that psilocybin can quickly and significantly reduce symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. Prior research from the nation’s top medical research universities including Johns Hopkins University, the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, and New York University have shown positive patient outcomes for depression and anxiety. Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has started offering psychedelics to patients as a part of clinical trials.
With the Natural Medicine Health Act now officially Colorado state law, the governor has until January 31, 2023, to appoint 15 members to a new Natural Medicine Advisory Board, which will advise the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies on implementing the measure. The board’s first recommendations are due by September 30, 2023. Recommendations on a facilitator training program for the medical use of psilocybin mandated by the measure are due on January 1, 2023. Regulated access to psilocybin should become available from authorized therapists by late 2024.
Kappel said that with the proclamation from Polis, implementation of Proposition 122 can now begin.
“Our goals include creating an accessible and balanced facilitator training system, an effective equity program, a first-of-its-kind ESG screen, and safe access to natural psychedelic therapies,” Kappel said. “In the meantime, adults in Colorado can begin to have more open and honest conversations about these medicines with their doctors. Adults who can benefit from these substances will finally be able to engage in psychedelic therapies without fear of arrest and prosecution.”
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is apparently eyeing new regulations for certain CBD products, with an announcement from the federal agency expected in the coming months.
The Wall Street Journal, citing agency officials, reported this week that the FDA is “studying whether legal cannabis is safe in food or supplements and plans to make recommendations for how to regulate the growing number of cannabis-derived products in the coming months.”
“Given what we know about the safety of CBD so far, it raises concerns for FDA about whether these existing regulatory pathways for food and dietary supplements are appropriate for this substance,” Janet Woodcock, the Food and Drug Administration’s principal deputy commissioner, told the Wall Street Journal.
According to the newspaper, Woodcock has “led the agency’s efforts looking at cannabis regulation.”
Reuters reports that, “after weighing the evidence on the compound’s safety, the FDA will decide within months how to regulate legal cannabis and whether that will require new agency rules or new legislation from Congress.”
The outlet noted that, following the Wall Street Journal’s report on the news, “shares of U.S.-listed cannabis companies were down between 5% and 9% in afternoon trade.”
CBD products have exploded in the American marketplace over the last four years following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized industrial hemp production.
But the products have outpaced regulation, which has caused some state and federal officials to scramble in order to play catch up.
Earlier this year, regulators in Idaho began enforcing a ban of CBD pet supplements, saying that the state’s “new law did not legalize hemp in every setting or product type.”
“Similarly, Idaho law does not recognize hemp as a feed or remedy ingredient. Safe levels of hemp and hemp-derived products in animal feed have not yet been established under federal or state law. As such, these products are not approved feed ingredients and cannot lawfully be added to or incorporated into commercial feed. This includes feeds, treats and remedies intended for pets, livestock, or any other animal,” the Idaho Department of Agriculture said in a memorandum.
“As hemp manufacturing begins to take place in Idaho, ISDA is working with new hemp licensees and animal feed companies to understand what is legal in the state. Interest in hemp animal feeds and remedies has grown significantly, and these products are known to be available online and in retail stores. We recognize that some states have adopted laws and rules that allow for hemp to be included in human and animal foods,” the deparmtnet added.
The lack of regulation has resulted in some consumers being duped about the CBD products that they are buying.
A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine that was released in July found that many such products are incorrectly labeled.
The researchers found that 18% of the products they analyzed contained 10% less CBD than what was advertised on the label, while another 58% contained 10% more CBD than what was listed. Less than a quarter of the products contained the same amount of CBD as was advertised.
“Misleading labels can result in people using poorly regulated and expensive CBD products instead of FDA approved products that are established as safe and effective for a given health condition,” said the study’s lead author, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Tory Spindle.
“Recent research has shown that people who use CBD products containing even small amounts of THC could potentially test positive for cannabis using a conventional drug test,” Spindle added.
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Day one of legal weed sales in New York will go down in history. Leafly was there for the smoke.
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Before customers lined up to buy at Housing Works, the regulators vowed an equitable industry, then tasted the fruits of their labor.
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Snoop Dogg announced today that Death Row Records—the legendary West Coast hip-hop platform featuring artists like Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, Nate Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound, and so on—is entering the cannabis game with Death Row Cannabis.
What kind of strains can we expect? Death Row Cannabis will initially launch a trove of OG strains including Runtz, Strawberry Gary, and Tropicana Cookies. The first drop arrives in limited edition commemorative metallic bags featuring the iconic hooded prisoner figure seated in an electric chair on the front—the image found on the Death Row Records logo if you look closely.
Specifically designed for the Death Row Cannabis drop, the new rendering of the prisoner was designed for the launch of the cannabis brand. The main difference between the new and old images is that the new one has one hand broken free and is smoking a fat doobie.
To do this drop, and considering competition, Snoop Dogg zeroed in on one of the top cultivators around.
The man who curates Death Row Cannabis is the one and only, mighty AK—“hand-selected by Snoop himself.” AK is best known for his role alongside former partner Wizard Trees in sprouting, selecting, and cultivating strains such as RS11 (aka Rainbow Sherbert #11), Studio 54, and Shirazi from breeder DEO Farms. (High Times Vice President of Content Jon Cappetta profiled the high-grade cannabis grown by Wizard Trees last August.)
AK is also behind the IYKYK brand SMKRS and he is also the esteemed Vice President of Cultivation for TRP LLC, the company that owns a majority of the Cookies stores across the nation including their facilities in Florida. AK has also developed a reputation for his knack for cultivating fire OG strains.
Death Row Cannabis will first be available at select Cookies California stores throughout California in Brentwood, San Bernardino, and San Diego on Monday, January 2, 2023, with other locations and more states to follow.
Follow Death Row Records and Death Row Cannabis on Instagram for more details about the initial drop. The accounts posted an animation of the Death Row Records logo and revealed a branded pre-roll tube. The teaser video was created by artist GUAP with a soundtrack by Kevin Gilliam, aka DJ Battlecat.
Under Snoop’s recent leadership after he acquired the label, Death Row Records is making a lucrative dive into cannabis. Snoop Dogg, under Death Row Records, praised the herb from the get-go, most obviously on albums like Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and The Chronic 2001, or nearly any Snoop Dogg record. (However, Snoop’s acquisition does not necessarily include all the familiar albums.)
At its peak, Death Row Records artists seemed larger than life and defined an era—including the West Coast G-funk sound that was often imitated but not duplicated.
“For over 30 years, through countless chart topping hits and landmark artists, Death Row Records has stood as one of the music industry’s most iconic and culturally significant platforms,” the label said in a statement. “Today, it is under powerful new management. Recently acquired and under the direction of Snoop Dogg and his family, the infamous musical empire has reemerged as a multi-category cultural platform across music, entertainment, and cannabis, all united by the blockchain for a new generation.”
Ahead of the announcement of Death Row Cannabis, Snoop Dogg acquired Death Row Records on February 10. “It feels good to have ownership of the label I was part of at the beginning of my career,” Snoop Dogg said at the time. This represents Snoop Dogg’s next move with his new platform.
Stay tuned for more drops from Death Row Cannabis, soon to follow.
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Google released an announcement this month that explains an update to its “Dangerous Products and Services and Healthcare and Medicines.” As of Jan. 20, 2023, cannabis advertising will be allowed, but currently only in California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico.
Specifically, this update pertains to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved products that contain CBD, or topical, hemp-derived CBD products with 0.3% or less THC. “Certain formats, including YouTube Masthead, will not be eligible for serving. CBD will be removed from the Unapproved Pharmaceuticals and Supplements list. All ads promoting other CBD-based products, including supplements, food additives, and inhalants, continue to be disallowed,” Google states.
Google is partnering with LegitScript to create a certification program for non-ingestible CBD manufacturers. LegitScript CEO Scott Roth explained how the certification aims to create a standard for the cannabis industry. “When people see the LegitScript seal on your product or website, they know that you operate safely and transparently,” said Roth. “In an industry that is still seeing widespread problems with products that are tainted, substandard, or illegal, it’s more important than ever to give consumers confidence that the CBD products they’re purchasing have been properly vetted.”
LegitScript works with other payment service providers such as Visa, Google, Bing, and Facebook. “LegitScript Certification lets the world know which healthcare merchants, CBD products and websites, and drug and alcohol addiction treatment facilities operate safely and transparently,” the company states in a press release. “The result? Certified merchants can stand out from the crowd, grow their online presence, and demonstrate credibility in high-risk industries. LegitScript is the leading third-party certification expert in these tightly regulated and complex sectors.”
LegitScript will charge a fee for processing and monitoring applicants (although the company’s website says that fees are waived through March 31, 2023). Applicants may submit their websites for a LegitScript certification in order to advertise on Google. After LegitScript certifies a website, they will be given “information on demonstrating your certified status,” such as a LegitScript “Seal of Approval” that can be displayed on a certified website.
LegitScript’s starting fees per CBD product vary between $650 for one to five products, decreasing for brackets including $600 for six to 50 products, $550 for 51 to 99, and finally $500 for 100 or more. There is also an annual monitoring fee that ranges between $750 to $1,000 depending on the number of CBD products as well. Full websites require an $800 fee per website, with either a $1,600 annual fee per website, or $2,250 annually for a “probationary website” for websites with “a past history of significant compliance issues.”
This move is a step in the right direction for hemp products, although there is currently no mention of expanding this new update to other states yet.
In the past, there have been some negative interactions between Google and cannabis-related content. In 2016, one Minnesota-based medical cannabis company fought against Google for banning it from advertising online due to having “dangerous products or services.” That same year, Google saw a 75% increase in cannabis searches online, and allowed games about the War on Drugs to be promoted on Google Play.
In 2017, Google Docs temporarily labeled documents, including those relating to cannabis, as inappropriate (although the event was considered to be due to a coding error and was promptly fixed).
In July 2019, Google announced that cannabis products would be banned from the app store, and during the height of the vaping epidemic later that year, Apple also removed all vaping-related apps from the iOS store.
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Despite the failure of a recreational marijuana legalization measure to gain the approval of a majority of voters in last month’s midterm elections, activists in South Dakota are already planning for a new bid to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2024.
The group South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws has taken the first official step to launch a new cannabis legalization bid for 2024 by filing a draft of the proposed ballot initiative with the state’s Legislative Research Council, according to media reports. The move comes less than two months after a recreational pot legalization measure known as Initiated Measure 27 failed at the polls in the November elections, garnering just over 47% of ballots cast.
If it had been passed, Measure 27 would have legalized the possession and use of cannabis and marijuana paraphernalia. The ballot initiative also would have allowed adults 21 and older to possess or distribute up to one ounce of marijuana. Those living in a jurisdiction without a licensed marijuana retailer would have been allowed to grow up to three cannabis plants in a secure location at home.
Activists who campaigned for this year’s unsuccessful ballot proposal believe that the lower voter participation typical of midterm elections compared to those that include a race for U.S. president may have been a factor in the defeat of Measure 27.
“We think the only reason it lost is because of really low turnout… we are eager to restore the will of the people,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana laws, which also led the campaign to pass the 2022 cannabis legalization ballot measure.
The failure of Initiative 27 came despite a similar proposal gaining a solid majority of votes only two years earlier, when President Joseph Biden beat his predecessor Donald Trump at the polls. A 2020 ballot measure to legalize adult-use cannabis passed with 54% of the vote, but a legal challenge supported by Republican Governor Kristi Noem led to the state Supreme Court invalidating the measure on procedural grounds.
Opponents of cannabis reform believe that the issue of recreational marijuana legalization has already been settled at the polls, despite the invalidated successful ballot measure only two years ago. Republican state Representative Fred Deutsch, who also serves as the treasurer for the cannabis prohibitionist group Protecting South Dakota Kids, is opposed to another bid to legalize marijuana in the 2024 elections.
“They brought it, and they brought it, and they brought it… they said we should respect the will of the voters throughout the campaign,” said Deutsch. “Well, apparently, they are not going to respect the will of the voters… and they are going to bring it back again.”
Deutsch added that he intends to sponsor a bill in the next legislative session that would prohibit similar initiatives from being placed on the ballot in consecutive election cycles. Additionally, Protecting South Dakota Kids plans to create a nonprofit group with the same name and hire a lobbyist to work in the state capital full-time during the 2023 legislative session in order to counter the efforts of cannabis reform advocates.
“This last year in Pierre, the pro-marijuana lobbyists outgunned us five to one, six to one… I didn’t count them, but they were swarming the Capitol,” said Deutsch. “The marijuana industry puts a lot of money into hiring these guys, and we hope to push back just a little bit.”
Proponents of another attempt to legalize adult-use cannabis in South Dakota believe that the success of the measure is likely to hinge on the ability of activists to raise the money to mount an effective race in 2024. Media reports cite “lackluster fundraising” as a factor in this year’s loss.
“The biggest hurdle is making sure you can run a well-funded campaign, and it is too early to say whether we can or can’t,” said Schweich. “But we are going to try and move through the process and build up a network of people who can donate generously and make sure that we do have a well-funded campaign.”
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December was a wild one. From searching the streets of Bangkok for the heat, to the Harvest Ball’s premiere of the Dank Tank, to a whole lot of holiday parties, I’m exhausted. I usually try to take the back half of December to try and recover & prepare for the upcoming year, but it never really works out. This year was no exception. I don’t know why I still expect holidays to be relaxing.
But Thailand was wild! I’m working on a piece covering our adventure that you’ll all be able to read sometime next month, but the long and short of it is that the country has embraced legalization like I’ve never seen before. There are independent stands to buy weed in front of dispensaries, there are trucks selling weed like ice cream trucks on every block. I’m not going to pretend they’ve got the highest quality yet, but they’re throwing themselves at it, and I love to see it. There are a few picks from there leading the list this month for anyone looking to experience it. We’ve also got some gems I found while attending the Harvest Ball, which Jimi & I went to the day after we returned to the states. Talk about overbooking.
(Also P.S. sorry to everyone I saw that weekend. It was a whirlwind and I was still coming down from my plane drugs so I barely remember anything, but I’m sure I didn’t get enough time to properly hang with any of you. I won’t make that mistake again – I’m coming well rested all 2023 :))
Anyway, I was hoping to get two more of these out before the year ends as I just turned 33 last week and it felt symbolic, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Guess we’ll start off ‘23 with #33, which is my lucky number so we’ll say we’re starting on a high note. If there’s anything you think needs to be included, or you just want to talk about one of the picks I made in this or previous lists, hit me on Twitter and let’s hash it out!
If you’ve been paying attention to the culture for awhile you’ve probably heard the legend of Thai sticks before. Some of the first Sativas proliferating the states, Thai sticks were basically Thailand’s version of brick weed back in the day. Packed and bound tightly around actual sticks and smuggled to all the corners of the world largely through the help of the military, they’re something of an urban legend today. When we landed in Thailand they were obviously the first thing we asked about, but it became clear that this was an elusive delicacy. In fact, most of the dispensary guys we asked said to let them know if we found it for their own consumption needs. While this might not be completely obvious by the looks of us, but we found it, and the guy who has been packing them for almost 60 years. I can’t give you information on how to find him, but I can tell you he’s out there, and so are modern sticks.
I try very hard to ensure I’m not duplicating picks that other journalists have already written about, and although Jimi already mentioned Dr. Dope’s Double Dawg in his 12 Strains of Christmas piece for LA Weekly I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the best weed we found at a dispensary in Bangkok. While the game out there is still fresh, and the climate makes it difficult to produce tops, this was some real authentically Thai-grown heat. You could actually see the trichomes on this one, which was not as common as you’d expect in the developing market. That said, Dr. Dope was also a fun and frankly classy spot to hang in, worth the stop if you’re in the area!
This is less of a product and more of a destination, but if you want a truly unique weed experience (especially in Thailand), you’ve got to hit up Plantopia ‘Weed City’ on Khao San Road. Basically a weed strip mall, this shopping center has a maze of dispensaries and consumption lounges for you to purchase or consume in, and a nice open air smoking patio for you to sesh with the clients of other shops. It’s wild how in Asia having 100 of the same type of stores right next to each other doesn’t seem to bother anyone, but it was surprising for me. That said, it’s a very unique place to hang – everyone gets their own flavor without compromise.
At the party I’ll detail in the last entry on this list, a local friend from the internet pulled up with some of his underground grown to show us. I’ll be honest, this was the best weed I saw that (I believe) was actually grown in Thailand, though it wasn’t through a traditional dispensary experience. He said the farm is just getting set up, and that it’s called Kasta. The group also says the cut is called Nam Wah, which is a cross between Banana OG & Mimosa from Symbiotic Genetics. They do love their sativa’s on that side of the world! Also big shout out to Bbboss for pulling up on us at the party!
Let me start off by saying that Trufflez is taking the branding game to a new level with this one. The pleather stitched mylar was not something I ever expected to see, but it also feels like a better compromise than most of the fancy bag attempts we’ve seen lately. It feels classier than a mylar – and while I’m sure it’s more expensive I’m curious to see how weed will last in this pouch long term. I’m going to do some experiments with that on my own. That said about the marketing, the weed in the bag is actually up to par. In fact, all the samples I saw from Trufflez were what I would consider real top shelf flower.
Anytime I see something new from Turtle I know it’s going to be something that’s going to hit in the streets, but their latest, Purple Sticky Rice is hitting on a whole new level. Redefining the ‘candy’ nose most expect from some purple dank, these were some of the sweetest nugs to ever hit my nostrils. And I’m not just including this because of the Asian nod, this one’s definitely a gelato relative and we all know how the market loves that! All I’ve seen so far are the tasters so I’m not entirely sure if this one’s hit the streets yet, but when you get a chance, definitely tap in.
You’ve heard me rave about LING in the past so I don’t need to go into how great his production skills, or brand design, has been thus far. You already know that his flower is killing it all over the country, and that his hash collaborations and donuts are top tier. Well friends, have you tried his new Runtz x Gushers cross yet? Because let me tell you, I am writing home about it. With all the sweet firepower you expect from two of the most popular strains of the past decade, LING’s got something truly special on his hands with this one – do I even need to mention how god damn hard this branding is?
I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with this one. I don’t know if he’s a brand, or if he’s just growing fire, but what I can assure you of is he’s definitely doing that. I met the new homie at Chronic Culture for the first time at their Kalya dinner (which was directly after Jimi & I got off the plane returning to the states) and every single cut he showed me was stellar, and fully rocked me upon deeper inspection (into my lungs). Not knowing if he’s a full brand, I’m not sure how available this flower is, but if you’re in the Bay and you hear someone talking about a cultivator with a weird name (I mean, what IS Spoomalack?), maybe it’s this homie. If it is, you’re in luck, young padawan.
These guys have been making a TON of noise down in Florida and I’ve been asked more about Gumbo than pretty much any other cultivar in recent history, so I’m pleased to report that it’s not just hype – the guys are doing something down there in the South East. I was fortunate enough to catch Superfly and El Tay on my trip back from the Bay (shout out to Jet Suite X, the trapper’s choice!), and they broke me off with some of their latest harvest and carte blanche, this is the best weed I’ve seen come out of Florida yet.
Felipe presented this to us in the Dank Tank Jimi and I hosted at the Harvest Ball and I’ve got to say, for a guy who has said countless times he’s over gelato, their new collaboration with the creator himself, Sherbinski, just rekindled my love. This Apples & Bananas x Gelato 41 cross smells and tastes exactly how you would expect, with a natural, yet couldn’t be more dialed in with additive terps if you tried flavor. You can smell the apples, the bananas, and that sweet candy finish Gelato’s known for. And it’s smokin’ too! While not quite as knock-you-out as a lot of Gelato varietals, this one’s a nice sunset smoke.
If you ever get the chance, you’ve got to try a Thai lasagna. I’ve been dreaming about these freakin’ things. When we went to visit Tropicanna, after sampling their wares the gang let us know they had prepared lunch if we were hungry. I had known one of the owners spent years living in Italy (you could tell, he had style); I didn’t realize he was half Italian. Not going to lie, I never expected to eat a lasagna and curry feast, but boy did we house it. It was the best hospitality we experienced in Thailand, in my opinion. There will be more on this in the ‘the Gang goes to Bangkok’ piece I’m working on, but for now just know I ate close to an entire lasagna by myself.
I’m adding this as a nepotism bonus because Oliver, one of the proprietors of Phandee, was our guide for the Thailand trip, but I am not fronting when I say this was my favorite of the shops we saw in Bangkok. While the store itself isn’t all that big, it’s part of a larger footprint that also sells food, drinks and even booze, and has a great little patio in the middle so everyone can enjoy everything together. It’s not only a good setup, it also looks insane because the outside is wrapped in this rainbow translucent glass. Or plastic, I don’t know, but I know I like it. Oliver also hosted a party at the shop for us while we were there and I’ll be honest, I was not expecting anywhere near the type of turnout we got, or the amount of people who knew who we were. It was a great time and will surely be a check-in anytime I’m in the city.
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