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Rally at Obama Fundraiser, Oakland on Monday, to Save Harborside and Medical Marijuana

(Update: Live video feed from the protest.)

July 23rd, 3:30 PM OBAMA KEEP YOUR PROMISE!

Protest federal cannabis raids when the President visits Oakland, the target of DOJ raids on Harborside, Oaksterdam U., and other medical cannabis centers.

Gather at Oakland City Hall Plaza, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza:

12 noon - Political Theater
3:00 pm - Protest
4:30 pm - President Obama arrives at Fox Theater

http://www.facebook.com/events/342631035818988/

http://stopthedrugwar.org/trenches/2012/jul/20/rally_monday_obama_fundraiser_oa

#SaveHarborside

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Date: 
Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: 
Oakland, CA
United States

Rally Monday at Obama Fundraiser in Oakland, Demand End to Federal Attacks on Medical Marijuana

MEDIA ADVISORY

Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release:
July 20, 2012
Contact: ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes or ASA California Director Don Duncan

Medical Marijuana Patients to Rally Monday at Obama Fundraiser in Oakland, Demand End to Federal Attacks
President Obama's visit to Oakland follows aggressive DOJ actions aimed at shutting down city-permitted dispensaries

Oakland, CA -- Hundreds of medical marijuana patients and advocates will stage a rally Monday in downtown Oakland at a fundraiser for President Obama's re-election campaign. The president's visit to Oakland follows a recent forfeiture action aimed at shutting down Harborside Health Center, a city-permitted dispensary that has operated since 2006 without incident. Earlier this year, the Obama Justice Department raided and shut down another of Oakland's permitted dispensaries, Blue Sky, leaving the city with a dwindling number of facilities to serve Oakland's patient population. On Monday, protesters will demand an end to federal interference and call for the firing of Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney for northern California.

What: Rally and press conference to protest federal attacks on the medical marijuana community and on Oakland's dispensaries in particular
When: Monday, July 23rd Press Conference at 1:45pm (Rally Noon-5pm)
Where: Press conference at Oaksterdam University, 1600 Broadway, Oakland (Rally at City Hall Plaza)

"The Obama Administration's attacks on the medical marijuana community are unprecedented and out-of-control," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy organization and one of the groups organizing Monday's rally. "We're here to let the president know that there's a political, and not just a financial, cost to shutting down law-abiding dispensaries," continued Sherer. "Patients are demanding that the president take account for his administration's harmful actions and address medical marijuana like the public health issue that it is."

President Obama has been dogged for the actions of U.S. Attorneys over the past two years, as his administration engaged in an all-out attack in medical marijuana states. From thinly-veiled threats against public officials in several medical marijuana states to hundreds of SWAT-style raids and threats against property owners, resulting in the closure of hundreds of dispensaries in California and other states, Obama's Justice Department has expended millions of dollars to target state law-compliant businesses.

These attacks represent an about-face to President Obama's stated policy that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue." Most recently, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee last month that his Justice Department was only targeting medical marijuana businesses "out of conformity with state law." Four days later, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents raided El Camino Wellness, a legally permitted dispensary in Sacramento widely supported by City Council members and others in the community.

Just last week, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filed a forfeiture lawsuit against the landlord of Harborside Health Center, lauded as the most popular dispensary in the country, in an attempt to shut down its two facilities in Oakland and San Jose. The legal action by Haag elicited outrage from not just the medical marijuana community, but also from a number of supportive public officials, including Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, State Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), and Betty Yee of the State Board of Equalization, which collects more than $100 million in annual sales tax revenue from California's dispensaries.

In May, the Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee unanimously adopted a resolution, decrying the federal raids as "a breach of promise and ill-directed use of taxpayer dollars," and calling on the federal government "to adhere to Administration promises about respecting state laws on medical marijuana by directing federal agencies to cease and desist from any further such action in California."

# # #

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

Location: 
Oakland, CA
United States

Dr. Bronner's Head Arrested in White House Hemp Civil Disobedience Action

protest cage with "Mr. President, Let U.S. Farmers Grow Hemp" sign
David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, which imports more than 20 tons of hemp oil each year from Canadian farmers, was arrested by members of the DC Metropolitan Police Department after committing an act of civil disobedience within sight of the White House early Monday morning. Bronner and fellow hemp activists pulled up to 16th and H Streets NW, unloaded a jail cell-like structure (to prevent police from immediately interfering), which Bronner locked himself into with 12 hemp plants. He then proceeded to harvest the plants and press hemp oil from them. (Bronner was planning to spread the oil on slices of bread and share it with onlookers, but that was unconfirmed at press time.) [Ed: Read our accompanying interview with David Bronner here, and watch video footage here.]

Bronner said he was waging a "beer bet" with President Obama that the hemp plants are not marijuana and have no drug value. The plants were grown from Canadian hemp seed, and under Canadian regulations, hemp can have no more than 0.3% THC, meaning the plants have no use as a medicinal or recreational drug.

"The industrial hemp plants I am harvesting and processing into oil cannot produce a high of any kind, but according to the Obama administration I'm in possession of approximately 10 pounds of marijuana," said Bronner. "President Obama's US Attorney who handles drug cases in Washington, DC will not be able to prove my hemp has any more drug value than a poppy seed bagel.  The Obama position on hemp is not science-based or good for the US economy. We've lobbied and campaigned for over a decade and feel abandoned by our president, who as an Illinois state legislator voted twice for hemp cultivation."

Activists at Vote Hemp, with which Bronner is affiliated, held meetings with the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2010 to seek a change in hemp policy, but that effort went nowhere. They then took advantage of the White House's public online petition program to ask it to revise US drug policies to allow for domestic hemp production -- it took a federal court order several years ago to force the DEA to allow hemp products to be imported -- but after a seven month delay, all they got was a slap in the face.

That slap came in the form of a one-paragraph response from ONDCP head Gil Kerlikowske entitled "What We Have to Say About Marijuana and Hemp Production."

David Bronner at the White House, with media and supporters
"America's farmers deserve our Nation's help and support to ensure rural America's prosperity and vitality," Kerlikowske wrote. "Federal law prohibits human consumption, distribution, and possession of Schedule I controlled substances. Hemp and marijuana are part of the same species of cannabis plant. While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, can contain THC, a Schedule I controlled substance. The administration will continue looking for innovative ways to support farmers across the country while balancing the need to protect public health and safety."

"I expected more from President Obama," Bronner said. "The president can simply direct the Department of Justice to respect industrial hemp grown pursuant to existing state hemp programs, such as North Dakota's. Everyone is sick and tired of America's bankrupt policy on hemp that forces our company to send well over a hundred thousand dollars every year to Canadian farmers. I had hoped that President Obama would not succumb to drug warriors' hysteria regarding hemp. I really don't know what else to do to get our 'Chief Law Enforcement Officer' to take a rational science-based approach to hemp policy in this country."

If the administration won't act, perhaps Congress will. Last week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) cosponsored an amendment to the Agriculture Department reauthorization bill. That amendment clarifies that hemp is an "agricultural crop" and should not be considered the same as marijuana.

While Bronner and other hemp activists support that effort, they argue that it's not the law but its deliberate misreading that is at the root of the problem.

"Senator Wyden's effort is truly commendable, but in my view the existing prohibition of hemp farming stems less from current law than the deliberate misinterpretation of existing law by regressive drug warriors entrenched in the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other high level members of the Obama Administration," Bronner said.

Now, with civil disobedience within eyeshot of the White House, the hempsters are hoping to up the pressure on the White House to act.

[Disclosure: Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps is a financial supporter of this newsletter.]

Washington, DC
United States

Interview: David Bronner and the White House Hemp Civil Disobedience

David Bronner grinds hemp plants into oil, H St. outside Lafayette Park at the White House, 6/11/12
[This interview with David Bronner was conducted Sunday afternoon, prior to today's civil disobedience action. Read our accompanying news report on the action here, and watch video footage here.]

Drug War Chronicle: You have been making efforts to get the Obama administration to reassess its hemp policy. How has that been going?

David Bronner: It's been incredibly frustrating. It's been clear for some time that Obama is being incredibly lame on this. It took them seven months to answer our hemp petition, and when they did, it was with this Orwellian response calling hemp marijuana and opposing legalization. They also refused to meet with a North Dakota delegation, where everyone from the governor on down wants to grow hemp, so what are we going to do?

Chronicle: And now we have the Wyden-Paul amendment. What do you think of that and what are its chances?

Bronner: The introduction of the Wyden amendment is good news. Rand Paul came on board, too. The drug warriors will try to strip it out of the farm bill, of course, but maybe the energy out of this civil disobedience action will do the trick. The introduction of the amendment last week certainly sets up this action nicely.

Chronicle: You will be transporting hemp plants to the vicinity of the White House and processing them to produce hemp oil, but the federal government doesn't differentiate hemp from marijuana. You're going to have about 10 pounds of hemp. Aren't you worried about the possible legal consequences?

Bronner: I will be inside a steel cage to prevent police from getting to me while I prepare the hemp oil-

Chronicle: That's a switch.

Bronner: Yeah, although I do expect to eventually be arrested. I'll plead not guilty; this isn't marijuana. I'll fight them all the way, unless all they want to do is give me something like a traffic ticket. Medical marijuana has provided many opportunities for civil disobedience, but hemp is different. You're not going to have a farmer spending months growing a hundred acres for an act of civil disobedience, so I'm doing it.

Chronicle: But it's not just about hemp or what goes on in Washington, DC, for you, is it?

Bronner: We just gave $50,000 to the cannabis legalization campaign in Colorado. Although that initiative does direct the legislature to enact a hemp farming program, this is mainly about legalization. We'll give money to the Washington state effort, too, because once one or two states go, there will be a seismic shift, and the prohibition of hemp will become increasingly lame and untenable.

[Disclosure: Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps is a financial supporter of this newsletter.]

Washington
United States

Hemp Civil Disobedience at the White House NOW

David Bronner, president of the widely-known Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, locked himself in an iron cage with hemp plants (the non-psychoactive type) this morning to protest the federal government's ban on hemp. Dr. Bronner's uses hemp oil in its soaps, imported from Canada. There is a live stream at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hempaction2, though I just got a malware infection message from my browser the site so proceed with caution. David is just being taken away to a police cruiser right now.

In a few moments I will be posting an interview Phil conducted yesterday with David, and a short news report on the action, and photos from this morning, which also discusses an amendment to the federal farm bill being submitted by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY), the first Senate pro-hemp legislation.

Pro-Legalization Cops Seek Assistant Media Relations Director

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/leap-badge-logo-200px.jpg
LEAP badge logo
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is seeking a talented and motivated individual to work in our media relations department on a part-time basis. LEAP is a nonprofit organization representing police officers, judges, prosecutors and other criminal justice professionals who want to legalize and regulate marijuana and other drugs after witnessing the failure of the "war on drugs" up close.

The assistant media relations director will report to and work alongside LEAP's full-time media relations director in efforts to inject the voices of pro-legalization law enforcers into high-profile news coverage of the rapidly advancing public debate about failed drug policies.

Specifically, duties will include but are not limited to:

  • Writing op-eds and letters-to-the-editor.
  • Drafting, editing and distributing press releases.
  • Making follow-up pitch calls to reporters and producers.
  • Scanning the news to identify PR opportunities.
  • Using an online media database to generate lists of journalists to contact.
  • Building relationships with journalists.
  • Encouraging prominent bloggers to link to or write about interesting drug policy stories.
  • Posting comments mentioning LEAP on prominent blogs and online news articles.
  • Tracking, circulating and archiving LEAP's news hits.
  • Interacting with supporters on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

Through these and other tactics, the assistant media relations director will help members of the organization's 150-member bureau of law enforcement speakers make their voices heard in the increasingly prominent global drug policy discussion.

The assistant media relations director will preferably -- but not necessarily -- be located in San Francisco, CA or Washington, DC, and will work three days a week (24 hours per week).

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Demonstrated ability to generate positive news coverage for advocacy efforts.
  • Familiarity with diverse news organizations across platforms (print, online, broadcast).
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills.
  • Commitment to LEAP's mission to replace the "war on drugs" with legalized regulation.
  • Social media savvy.
  • Video editing, graphics and web design skills are major plusses.
  • Spanish language fluency a plus but not required.

COMPENSATION:

The assistant media relations director will be compensated at a competitive hourly rate commensurate with experience.

TO APPLY:

Please send a resume, cover letter and (preferably published) short writing sample to Tom Angell, LEAP's media relations director, at media@leap.cc. Interviews are being conducted on a rolling basis, so interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. The application deadline is June 15, 2012.

More information about LEAP is available at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

New Biography Says Obama Smoked Pot -- A Lot

President Obama has written about his drug use as a teenager, but excerpts from a new biography of the president portray him as a party hardy high school and college marijuana user. And that has reform advocates calling foul on a president who laughs off serious questions about marijuana legalization and whose Justice Department is cracking down on medical marijuana distribution.

The new biography, Barack Obama: The Story, is written by veteran Washington political journalist David Maraniss and contains extensive material about the president's smoke-filled young adulthood including his leading role in the Choom Gang, with "choom" used as verb meaning to get high.

Obama choomed his way through the Punohao School in Honolulu and Occidental College in Los Angeles, Maraniss reports, citing interviews with the president's erstwhile colleagues. And young Obama wasn't just experimenting; he showed signs of being a serious pothead.

He created a pot-smoking trend among his peers called "TA," short for "total absorption," and also is credited with popularizing the notion of "roof hits," or rolling up all the windows in a car while smoking, then tilting one's head back and sucking the last remnants of smoke from the roof.

Young Barry and his Choom Gang buddies were so serious about their fun that they assessed penalties on their peers for wasting smoke by not inhaling fully. If you wasted smoke, you were penalized by being passed by the next time the joint came around. "Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated," a member of the gang told Maraniss.

The president-to-be was also an eager pot smoker. He was known for elbowing his way in out of turn when a joint was being passed, shouting "Intercepted!" and taking an extra hit.

Obama seemed to retain his marijuana-friendly attitude until he attained the presidency. While there are no stories of him getting baked while editing the Harvard Law Review, he was critical of the drug war while an Illinois senator, and as a presidential candidate, he vowed to not go after medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

But as president, he has converted himself into a full-blown prohibitionist, laughing off marijuana legalization, continuing to fund the drug war at the same high levels (and with the same law enforcement heavy spending ratio), and attempting to export US drug war strategies to violence-wracked areas like Mexico and Central America. And, after a year and a half of relatively benign neglect, his Justice Department has turned on medical marijuana providers with a vengeance.

The publication of the Maraniss excerpts provoked a response from Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who chided the president for his shifting stance and warned there could be a political price to pay.

"Barack Obama won a lot of hearts and minds some years ago when he talked so openly and frankly about his youthful marijuana use. That contrasted refreshingly with Bill Clinton's hemming and hawing about not having inhaled, much less George Bush's refusal to even acknowledge what old friends revealed about his marijuana use," Nadelmann noted. "But the president has been losing lots of hearts and minds, especially those of young voters, with his striking silence on marijuana issues since he became president -- apart from providing lame excuses for the federal government's aggressive undermining of state medical marijuana laws.

"Most disappointing is his failure to say a word as president about the fact that half of all drug arrests each year are for nothing more than possessing a small amount of marijuana, which is something Barack Obama did lots of in his younger days, or to offer any critical comments about the stunning racial disproportionality in marijuana arrests around the country," Nadelmann continued. "Roughly twice as many people are arrested for marijuana possession now as were arrested in the early 1980s, even though the number of people consuming marijuana is no greater now than then. If police had been as keen on making marijuana arrests back then, it's quite likely that a young African American man named Barry Obama would have landed up with a criminal record -- and even more likely that he would not have his current job."

Recent polls show support for marijuana legalization at 50% or higher, with even higher levels of support among liberals and Democrats. It is time for Obama to address the issue, Nadelmann said.

"President Obama needs to come clean once again about marijuana -- but this time he needs to speak not of his own youthful use but rather of the harmful consequences of today's punitive marijuana policies for young Americans today," he said.

Washington, DC
United States

LEAP Hiring Speakers Bureau Director (Applications Due Tomorrow!)

[Sorry for the late notice -- we just heard about this!]

Job Posting: Speakers Bureau Director (Full Time)
http://www.leap.cc/hiring-speakersbureaudirector/

Application Deadline: Friday, May 11, 2012 Start Date: May 28, 2012

Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area (preferred)


LEAP is an international nonprofit educational organization created to give voice to law-enforcers who believe the US war on drugs has failed and who wish to support alternative policies that will lower the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction. The Speakers Bureau Director performs a combination of duties including policy advocacy, team management, recruiting and training, and cold calling various venues to suggest a LEAP speaker. This position reports to the Executive Director.

Speakers Bureau Director responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Coordinating the speaking engagements for LEAP speakers across the full spectrum of venues, including colleges and universities; civic, professional, and religious organizations; legislative hearings; conferences; and more. Booking is done both directly and through the management of teams of staff and volunteers. It includes pitching venues, arranging all details and making sure all parties have them, and occasionally organizing transportation and lodging. The speakers bureau team is also responsible for obtaining funding from organizations to cover LEAP's speaking expenses and honoraria when possible.
  • Managing the activities of the speakers bureau. This includes recruiting speakers, coordinating the vetting process, initially training speakers, collecting and providing feedback, and making sure that current speakers have all the resources they need to represent LEAP. As part of this management, the speakers bureau director is responsible for reviewing the application process, running the speakers' training web site, writing new speakers' bios, and being available to answer any and all questions and concerns from current speakers.
  • Drafting and keeping up-to-date various internal and external policy documents including testimony, speeches, slide presentations, handouts, fact sheets, and summaries for speakers to use in educating the public. The speakers bureau director is also responsible for staying current on drug policy issues and making sure that the members of the speakers bureau have access to the latest statistics and other preparation and materials.
  • Collaboration both within and outside the organization. LEAP supports reform in dozens of states in partnership with organizations nationwide. The speakers bureau director will work with local and state campaigns in order to coordinate LEAP's role in providing law enforcement support. He/she will also work closely with LEAP's media, outreach and finance directors and office managers to ensure that speakers' activities are covered in the press, reimbursed, and recorded accurately in the organization's records.

Required qualifications include:

  • At least three years of relevant policy advocacy or organizing experience;
  • Excellent communications skills, both written and oral;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills;
  • Demonstrated ability to manage and mentor teams;
  • Enthusiasm, optimism, and a sense of humor;
  • Flexibility and an ability to work in a rapidly-changing environment
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice issues, preferably drug policy reform;
  • Familiarity with Google Mail and Google Docs;
  • Comfort with selling ideas over the phone and by email;
  • Comfort with frequent conference calls; and
  • Spanish language fluency a plus but not required.

More Information About LEAP

Who we are: Established in 2002 by one Canadian and four American cops, LEAP has become an international organization of law enforcement professionals (police officers; parole and corrections staff; judges; prosecutors; prison wardens; DEA, Homeland Security and FBI agents) with over 60,000 supporters throughout 80 countries. LEAP has over 150 speakers.

What we believe: We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes marijuana worth more than gold, and heroin worth more than uranium -- while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, innocent civilians and children alike. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control. We thus believe in a legal, regulated and controlled system for drugs.

What we do: LEAP has established a speakers bureau of knowledgeable current and former law enforcement professionals who educate diverse audiences about the negative impacts of our current drug policies.

Compensation

Salary based on experience. Benefits include paid vacation, paid sick leave and healthcare package.

To Apply

Applicants should email a resume and cover letter describing the applicant's interest in this position to Shaleen Title at shaleen.title@leap.cc.

4/20 Protest at Obama Oaksterdam-area Headquarters

There is a Bay Area 4/20 demonstration against the Obama administration's war on medical marijuana. It's starting a short time from now at the federal building in Oakland, followed by a march at noon Pacific time to Oaksterdam and Obama campaign headquarters, which is around the corner from Oaksterdam University. There is a film festival and benefit party for California NORML and OU starting at 3:00pm, and another event in the area tomorrow.

Phil is attending and will be posting a Chronicle report this afternoon -- check back. Visit http://www.canorml.org for sign up for their updates. Following is the CANORML announcement:

Fri 4/20 - OAKSTERDAM PROTEST (11:30 - 1:30)
and FILM FESTIVAL (3PM - 8PM)

JOIN US at 11 AM, at the Federal Building in Oakland (1301 Clay St.) to protest the federal attack on Oaksterdam and medical cannabis. At 12 PM we will be marching up to Oaksterdam to make our views known to the President's campaign. Participants are invited to drop by the Oaksterdam Student Union 1915 Broadway for refreshments after 1 PM.

FILM FESTIVAL & 4/20 CELEBRATION - 3 PM - 8 PM at Oaksterdam (1600 Broadway) $10 for benefit of Cal NORML & Oaksterdam U. Featuring: "A NORML Life" (3PM); "California 90420" (4:30 PM) and special premier presentation: "The Green Goddess" (6PM) with in-person Q& A by producer Chris Iverson. Facebook event page

Sat 4/21 DEEP GREEN FESTIVAL at Craneway Conference Center, Richmond - noon -midnite
Festive Earth Day celebration of the 7 dimensions of cannabis. Look for the CalNORML table!

We're Winning Any Time the President is Forced to Say the Word "Legalization"

This MSNBC footage is pretty exciting to see.

Obama got dragged kicking and screaming into this debate, and it's a significant moment even if he didn’t give up any new ground. Just look at what happened here. Obama had to travel all the way to Colombia to argue against legalizing drugs, and he didn’t do a particularly good job. The drug war debate looked nothing like this just a few short years ago, i.e. I do not recall Bill Clinton or George W. Bush being forced into any situations like this one.

The impact of a symbolic moment like this is something we can't exactly measure, but my take on the situation is that the lights are being turned on. People are talking about the drug war more than ever before, which creates a kind of pressure that hasn’t existed in the past.

When both sides of the debate are talking about policy change, that says a lot, even if one side isn't serious about it. Opponents of legalization are now in the awkward position of pretending that there's some kind of 3rd way to handle this, and they're going to look sillier from one day to the next as the problem gets worse under their watch. What happens after the "reforms" offered by the Obama Administration and people like Kevin Sabet fail to save a single life south of our border? We're going to find out.

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