TIME Drugs

Washington State Marijuana Shops Caught Selling to Minors

Girl holding marijuana in hand , close-up
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Four of 22 stores tested for compliance were caught selling weed to underage shoppers in state-run stings

Washington’s retail marijuana businesses got calls from the state liquor control board before the sting operations began, warning them and reminding them about best practices when it comes to keeping weed out of kids’ hands. But when the board sent 18- to 20-year-old operatives into the first batch of stores this month to see if shops would sell them weed, four of them still failed the test. According to the board’s report released Wednesday, that amounted to 18% of 22 operations.

“We’re always going to have the goal of 100% compliance, that’s what we want; [82%] is good, but it’s not great,” says State Senator Ann Rivers, who has continued to work on reforming the state’s retail and medical marijuana industries. “Many of these businesses have invested a lot of time and a lot of money. And it’s stunning to me that they’d be willing to risk their livelihood to do something so foolish.”

By the end of June, the state plans to conduct sting operations at each of the 138 retail marijuana shops reporting sales in Washington. “When the news is out,” the liquor control board’s Brian Smith says of these first numbers, “we’ll see a spike in compliance. That’s what happened on the alcohol side.” In the operations, the underage shoppers present their real IDs if asked but don’t offer an ID if they aren’t; if a store sells them marijuana, they complete the transaction and bring the contraband to officers waiting outside the shops.

Marijuana businesses in Washington that sell to minors face possible license suspensions and fines of up to $2,500. Businesses that fail three times in three years can lose their state-issued licenses, while the person who conducts the actual transaction faces a possible felony charge.

Reformers who wanted to legalize marijuana in Washington and Colorado—and who continue to pursue reform in other states—often argue that weed should be legal because it’s safer than alcohol. Regulations for alcohol, such as selling it only to adults ages 21 and older, have been used as scaffolding for nascent marijuana markets. Smith points out that similar sting operations conducted among liquor sellers in Washington always find slip-ups. Since 2012, monthly checks have found that an average of 85% of businesses, ranging from liquor shops to restaurants, don’t sell to minors.

In 2014, Colorado conducted similar stings among a sample of 20 retail marijuana shops in the state and found 100% compliance, but the vast majority of the state’s more than 250 shops were not tested. Since 2014, checks among liquor sellers in Colorado have found that an average of about 90% of businesses don’t sell alcohol to minors.

Smith chalks some failures up to “human error,” though drivers licenses for residents under age 21 are vertical rather than horizontal in the state. Many shops, he says, have someone stationed at the door and people working the register sometimes mistakenly assume that all shoppers’ IDs have been checked before they show up at the counter. “It’s early. This is a brand new industry that is finding it’s way,” Smith says. “There’s going to be some kinks initially.”

“Because this market is new, some business people don’t have all of their systems in place as much as we might like them to, so I’m going to cut them just the slightest bit of slack,” Rivers says. But she also emphasizes that “part of the expectation of the people of this state was that [a legal marijuana market] would be well taxed and very well regulated to keep it out of the hands of kids.”

While she’s neither thrilled nor deeply disappointed in these first results, Rivers says that attention shouldn’t just be focused on what happens in the stores: “The larger concern for me is people who are purchasing it legally because they’re the right age but then giving it to the underage people.”

A failure to follow the rules gives ammunition to those who did not want to legalize marijuana or who would like to see existing markets fold. But reform advocates point out that there is, at least, some oversight now occurring. “It’s always disappointing when there are isolated incidents of non-compliance, but it’s also a powerful example of how a legal, regulated market leads to more accountability and responsibility,” says Taylor West, spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Because you can certainly bet no one’s checking IDs in the criminal market, and a regulatory process incentivizes legal businesses to play by the rules.”

TIME Media

TIME on Pot: 5 Cover Stories About Marijuana

See how society's view evolved over the decades

This week’s TIME cover story examines how little we actually know about marijuana’s effects on our brains, even as cities and states around the United States are legalizing the drug.

It’s not the first time marijuana has been cover-story material. TIME has published five cover stories about the drug that, taken together, show how society’s view of marijuana has evolved over two decades.

Read the new cover story here, on Time.com: The Great Pot Experiment


Meet Colorado’s Pot Smokers

Danielle Levitt photographed more than 25 people smoking cannabis

For this week’s magazine cover story about marijuana’s effect on the developing brain, TIME sent New York-based photographer Danielle Levitt to Denver, Co., to photograph cannabis smokers in their early 20s.

Over the course of a weekend, Levitt met with more than 25 smokers, with whom she and her team had connected through a number of weed clubs, bars, as well as advocacy organizations in the Rocky Mountain state, after it became the first in the country to legalize recreational marijuana use of up to an ounce for adults.

But why would someone want to be the face of a national issue that not only draws heated debates but is federally criminalized?

“[Marijuana] is something that has improved their perspective. It is a life-changer for them,” Levitt tells TIME. “Any opportunity to share that with the greater public is a fantastic opportunity.”

In addition to pot activists’ enthusiasm, it is Levitt’s ability to connect with her subjects that enabled her to capture their unique experiences.

“I’m very bad at geography, but I’m good at people,” says Levitt, now in her early 40s, as she manages to bridge the age gap between her and her subjects. “Luckily, the kids think I’m cool.”

Originally from Los Angeles, Levitt has shot for major publications as a celebrity and fashion photographer and recently opened a bar in Manhattan frequented by the city’s fashion clan. Her continuous interest and distinctive style in documenting America’s youth has taken her across the country to focus on promgoers, football stars and urban outcasts.

Giving dignity to her subjects is the key to her photographic approach. “I want them to always feel human, present, respected,” Levitt says.

When photographing marijuana smokers, she asked them “to go at their [own] pace, and to smoke what they feel comfortable smoking, however much that is,” which meant the photographer and her team often had to be in enclosed environments with poor air circulation for long periods of time. “I don’t judge and I don’t manipulate,” Levitt says. “I let them be their true selves, and I think that when people can be celebrated for [being themselves], they can feel a certain ease.”

Danielle Levitt is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker. Her vibrant work on American youth as well as her fashion and celebrity portraits have appeared in various publications including The New York Times, Vanity Fair and GQ.

Myles Little, who edited this photo essay, is an associate photo editor at TIME.

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

MONEY Workplace

Should I Rat Out My Coworkers for Smoking Pot at Work?


Ask a Manager's Alison Green answers timely workplace and career questions

Q: I’m a manager and witnessed two guys under another manager smoking pot, as I was driving into work. They were on work property, and it was during work hours. While not being judgmental on a personal level, I feel compelled to report them. But I have to work with them, and I know they won’t get fired. I’d just as soon shut my mouth. Thoughts?

A: I’m as pro-privacy and as anti-Prohibition as they come, but what you do on work property during work hours is your employer’s business. And as a manager yourself, you have a higher level of obligation than if you weren’t.

So. Is there a safety issue? Would you report them if it were alcohol? Would you want to know if they’d been your own employees? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then yeah, you do need to tell their manager what you saw. (You can ask them to leave your name out of it if at all possible, since you need to work with these guys.) If the answer to all three questions is no, then I’m not going to tell you that you’re obligated to take this on.

Q: After receiving a job offer, I requested more money, a specific schedule, and asked about benefits. After a few email exchanges with HR, I realized their health insurance is one of the ones exploiting the ignorance of folks and claiming loopholes where there are none for my form of birth control. I would’ve had to pay $80/month just for birth control. I responded to the HR person to thank them for all their help and let them know the insurance would not meet my needs.

I called the manager, and she said she thought I’d rescinded my application (!), adding that she’d received my email to HR and thought I wasn’t interested. I was very confused, given that at no point did I say I didn’t want the job; I simply said the insurance did not meet my needs. She had offered the job to someone else. She said, “Do you want to work for somewhere that can’t pay you well and won’t give you the schedule you want?” I informed her at that point I didn’t even know what the schedule was and hadn’t been informed what the final offer was, given that no one actually communicated with me at all during this time. After asking “Is the offer rescinded for me then?” about twice, she finally said that the offer was no longer available to me.

My partner wants me to try to speak to their manager/supervisor and let them know what happened. Thoughts?

A: I wrote back to this letter-writer and asked, “When you told them that the insurance wouldn’t meet your needs, what exactly did you say in that email? And what were you expecting to happen after that?”

The letter-writer responded:

I thanked them and then said the insurance wouldn’t meet my needs. I didn’t say “so I won’t take it”; there was no vague language like that at all.

I actually didn’t have all the details of the offer yet, like what days I would work or whether they wanted to pay me more. The email was sent to HR, not the manager, although I found out later it was forwarded to her.

So, here’s the thing: A flat statement that an element of an offer “won’t meet your needs” is potentially going to be interpreted as “this offer won’t work for me.”

Now, the employer handled this poorly in several ways: They should have responded to you and either told you that the offer was final, including the health insurance, or attempted to negotiate with you. Instead, they prematurely assumed you were turning down the offer and just moved on. They also should have responded to your phone calls after this happened.

So I’m not defending the employer here.

But you didn’t handle this beautifully either. If I made an offer to someone and after discussing an element of it, they flatly told me that it wouldn’t meet their needs, I’d be wondering why they didn’t follow that up with something else, like “So unfortunately I won’t be able to accept” or “Would you be able to go up on salary to make up for the hit on insurance?” If they didn’t do that and just told me it wouldn’t meet their needs, I’d be left pretty nonplussed.

It also sounds like you were assuming that your emails with HR weren’t part of the official discussion about the offer, since they weren’t going to the hiring manager, but during offer discussions, HR and managers are very much in communication and are sharing their discussions with the candidate with each other. What you say to HR is assumed to be as much a part of your response to the offer as what you say to the hiring manager.

The hiring manager explained her thinking when she said, “Do you want to work for somewhere that can’t pay you well and won’t give you the schedule you want?” At that point, she’s thinking: “We already talked about the fact that the pay is below market. We’re not going to be able to give you the schedule you wanted. And now you’re saying that the health insurance doesn’t meet your needs. This isn’t the right match. I want to hire someone who’s going to be happy about the offer and not feel like working here is a hardship.”

Again, she should have closed the loop with you after you had your conversation with HR. She shouldn’t have ducked your calls. She should have been straight with you. But I can’t totally blame her for concluding that this wasn’t a great pairing for either of you.

As for your partner’s suggestion to go over the manager’s head and complain: That’s not going to get you anywhere. In the employer’s eyes, you’re going to be the candidate who said the offer wasn’t acceptable and then was upset when they moved on to someone else.

Going forward, I’d just make a particular point of being really clear when you’re negotiating. If you say an offer (or a piece of an offer) doesn’t work for you but you want to keep talking about ways to resolve that, you need to say that second part explicitly. Otherwise, people may assume you’re walking away.

Note: Some questions have been edited for length.

More From Ask A Manager:

TIME Healthcare

What You Should Know About Medical Marijuana for Pets

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Be sure to consult your veterinarian first

Now that 23 states have given medical marijuana the green light (with even recreational use now allowed in another four states and Washington D.C.), growing weed has become a growing business. The newest frontier: getting Fido and Fluffy on board with the cannabis revolution.

Relax. We’re not talking about rolling doobies with your dog, or seeing “pretty colors” with your cat. Nope, these are cannabis-containing edible treats and capsules that are meant for sick or aging pets.

“The cannabis plant has many compounds in it,” Matthew J. Cote, brand manager at Auntie Dolores, a San Francisco Bay Area-based edibles manufacturer, told ABC News. Auntie Dolores launched its pet line Treatibles last year. “Most people grow cannabis for the euphoric experience of THC. But they’ve been overlooking cannabidiol—commonly known as CBD—which is non-psychoactive,” he said.

CBD, in fact, does not produce a high, and it’s true that it’s been studied as a potential treatment for epileptic seizures and pain relief for cancer patients.

So, as Cote explained to ABC News, the theory is that since aging canines share a lot of the same health problems as humans, there must be a market for pot-laced dog “medicine.” Sold online ($22 per bag of 40 treats, treatibles.com), Treatibles contain 40 milligrams of CBD per treat and makers advise giving one per 20 pounds of your pet’s weight.

“What we’ve seen is that some of these dogs respond very rapidly,” Cote told ABC News. “One woman from Fort Bragg was ready to put down her dog due to how sick and in pain he was, but the day before he was scheduled to go under, she administered our treats and just like that the dog was up, walking around, and acting normally again.”

Canna Companion, another pot-for-pets proprietor based in Sultan, Washington, also boasts of amazing results for customers. One such testimonial posted on their website reads: “It seems as though [Canna Companion] is the best kept secret in the animal world for pain management and anxiety issues. I originally ordered it for my cat Robbie for anxiety/inflamed bladder issues and it works! Robbie has had issues for the past year or so, and now they are all but gone.”

High (ahem) praise, indeed.

Even so, the American Veterinary Medical Association hasn’t taken an official stance, and even in states where marijuana is legal, veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe cannabis products to their patients. (Though that may change: In Nevada, where medical use for humans is legal, the legislature is currently debating a bill that would allow vets to prescribe it to pets.)

Producers of these treats and capsules also have to be careful about any claims they make about their products. According to ABC News, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent Canna Companion’s co-owner (and a veterinarian) Sarah Brandon a notice, stating that the capsules were an “unapproved new animal drug and your marketing of it violates the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic] Act.”

That kind of cautionary approach makes sense, say some experts, who point out that since these products aren’t regulated by the FDA, there’s no real way of knowing what you’re getting—or what the potential side effects might be. Says Tina Wismer, medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, in an interview with Health: “These products show potential, but there’s not a lot of research at this point. No one is even sure what the correct therapeutic dosage is. For example, in the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section on one of the websites, a customer asks, ‘How much should I give my pet?’ And they answer—I’m paraphrasing here: ‘Whatever you think would help.’ Well, that’s extremely vague.”

Not to mention, potentially dangerous: A 2012 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care found that the number of dogs treated for marijuana overdoses at two Colorado veterinary hospitals quadrupled in five years following the legalization of medical marijuana in the state.

Sometimes it’s a case of owners deliberately administering cannabis products (hash-laced brownies, for example) to their pets, experts note. Other times, ingestion happens by accident—say, animals inhaling second-hand pot smoke or getting into their owner’s unattended stash. Wismer, who hasn’t heard of any problems with Treatibles or Canna Companion specifically, says she has fielded more than a few panicked calls at poison control about accidental exposures to pot in general—with sometimes scary results.

“You would think they’d become sedated and wobbly, but almost a quarter of them become quite agitated,” says Wismer. “They’re trying to pace. They’re panting. You reach out to pet them and they jerk their heads away.” In fact, Wismer adds, dogs that ingest large amounts of THC sometimes need to be put on fluids and have their heart rate monitored. Scary, right? (Although the commercial dog treats contain little or no THC, according the manufacturers.)

The bottom line here: You probably shouldn’t feed your pet cannabis—in any form—without talking to your vet.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Books

How LSD Cemented Willie Nelson’s Relationship With Pot

Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

"My love affair with pot became a long-term marriage," the musician writes in his new memoir

It’s no secret that Willie Nelson is fond of weed: he recently announced he’ll market his own brand of recreational marijuana, “Willie’s Reserve.”

But pot is not the only drug the “On the Road Again” singer has tried over the years. In his new memoir, It’s a Long Story: My Life, out this week, he recounts an experiment with LSD in the ’70s. “Could I expand my mind?” he asked himself while deciding to take the plunge. “Could I lose my ego?”

He may not have lost his ego, but he did lose his grasp on reality. Nelson accidentally took triple the amount his “hippie friend” recommended just two hours before a concert, and had to perform while tripping.

As I started singing, my voice sounded like it was coming from inside a cave. Didn’t sound like my voice at all … The flickering lights out in the crowd took the form of fiery figures. Was I freaking? Were there demons out there?

Once offstage, he felt even more panicky, but realized he had to relax as much as possible because his trip worsened with anxiety. When it was over, he decided he would never drop acid again.

[E]xperimenting with LSD convinced me that I had already found the high that worked for me. My love affair with pot became a long-term marriage. It was, by far, the smoothest of all my marriages. Pot and I got along beautifully. Pot never brought me down, never busted my balls. Pot got me up and took me where I needed to go. Pot chased my blues away. When it came to calming my energy and exciting my imagination, pot did the trick damn near every time I toked.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Crime

Police Found a Stoner’s Hilarious To-Do List

"Go home & get a stick"

When Australian police found the to-do list of a marijuana user while executing a search warrant, they decided to have a little fun at the stoner’s expense.

The Murdoch police posted the to-do list on Twitter, asking “Are ur Saturdays hectic like this”? The answer is probably no, since the list includes such pressing tasks as “Go home & get a stick” and then “chop up & get stoned.”

And for those of you wondering if this to-do list is real, the Murdoch police have a response:

MONEY credit cards

Can You Buy Marijuana With a Credit Card?

Conte's Clone Bar & Dispensary in Denver, Colorado
Craig F. Walker—Denver Post via Getty Images Conte's Clone Bar & Dispensary in Denver, Colorado

Despite legal uncertainties, some pot dispensaries accept plastic.

It’s been more than a year since legal recreational pot sales started in Colorado, and as much as dispensary owners enjoy the booming business, they’re sick of swimming in cash. Though the Department of Justice released regulations last year allowing banks to accept money from legal dispensaries, it’s still a federal crime — the announcement that the DOJ won’t pursue institutions that process legal pot money hasn’t been enough to make everyone comfortable.

It seems some Colorado business owners have run out of patience waiting for the banking industry to get on board with legal cannabis sales. According to a poll of 78 state-licensed dispensaries in the Denver area conducted by FOX31, 27 (or 47%) of them would be “willing to accept Visa or MasterCard as payment.”

Some of them may be working with financial institutions that have decided to accept money from legal cannabis sales, despite federal laws, but they’re probably trying to downplay or conceal the nature of the business, FOX31’s investigation suggests. Credit card transactions conducted at legal dispensaries produced receipts with company names like “AJS Holdings LLC” and “Indoor Garden Products.” Even though the federal government has said it will stand by and let legal dispensaries use the banking system and the credit card transactions it enables, that hasn’t erased the concerns over Drug Enforcement Agency audits for money laundering.

Given that credit card processing at marijuana dispensaries remains risky, it’s interesting that nearly half of the companies polled by FOX31 said they’d accept credit cards. (It was unclear from the story if the dispensaries polled actually have the ability to process such payments or if they’d merely like to.)

If it’s becoming more common for dispensaries to accept credit card payments, that’s both good and bad for consumers. The good thing is the ability to pay as you prefer and allow you to walk into a dispensary without a bunch of cash in your wallet. On the other hand, using a credit card may lead consumers to spend more than they can afford, potentially accumulating credit card debt. Then again, all consumer goods pose that threat — the important thing is to spend within your means, whether you’re buying indoor gardening products or “Indoor Gardening Products.” What you put on your credit card doesn’t matter to your financial and credit stability, but how much you charge and how you manage that balance does.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME Football

Projected NFL 1st-Round Draft Pick Shane Ray Cited For Marijuana Possession

Missouri defensive lineman Shane Ray (56) walks off the field after being ejected from the game for a late hit against Alabama quarterback Blake Sims during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Atlanta
Brynn Anderson—AP Missouri defensive lineman Shane Ray (56) walks off the field after being ejected from the game for a late hit against Alabama quarterback Blake Sims during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Atlanta

The standout defensive player will appear in court on June 30

Former Missouri Tiger football player Shane Ray, projected to be drafted in the early-mid first round of the 2015 NFL draft, was cited on Monday for possession of marijuana and a traffic violation.

According to ESPN, the pass rushing linebacker was pulled over for speeding on a Missouri highway and when the officer smelled fresh (unsmoked) marijuana he searched the vehicle — finding a “personal amount” in the car.

The officer said Ray was cooperative and did not appear impaired during the procedure. He was given a misdemeanor for having 35 grams or less of pot in his possession and was not detained. The maximum sentence for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Missouri is one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

He will appear in court on June 30.

Ray is also dealing with a toe injury and there is speculation that he may need to undergo surgery, but he told ESPN that he will “take it easy through rookie camp and continue to focus on rehab and healing.”

He started every game for Missouri last season and recorded 61 tackles and 14 sacks. The NFL draft starts on Thursday.


TIME Marijuana

Marijuana Reform Activists Push for Change with DEA Head

DEA administrator Michele Leonhart testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a hearing on sexual harassment and misconduct allegations at the DEA and FBI in Washington on April 14, 2015.
James Lawler Duggan—Reuters DEA administrator Michele Leonhart testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a hearing on sexual harassment and misconduct allegations at the DEA and FBI in Washington on April 14, 2015.

And the resignation of Chief of Administration Michele Leonhart offers the chance for change

Marijuana legalization advocates are excited about the departure of Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, whom they long considered an obstruction in their goal of reforming the nation’s drug laws.

“We are happy to see her go,” says Dan Riffle, the director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. “She’s a career drug warrior at a time when we’ve decided the ‘War on Drugs’ is an abject failure.”

Leonhart has been at the DEA for 35 years and served as the top dog since 2007. Though the recent scandal involving agents soliciting sex from prostitutes is what will likely most clearly tarnish her reputation, her position on drug policy has led marijuana reform activists to call for her resignation, says says Neill Franklin of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Franklin, a veteran of the Maryland state police, calls her position on marijuana reform “archaic.”

Leonhart has been a major hurdle in the effort to reconsider marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, which could pave the way for more research into the health benefits of the drug. In 2011, the agency again rejected a petition to reschedule marijuana. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the agency spent about $100 million in 2012 alone on enforcement regarding medical marijuana laws.

“Leonhart opposed medical marijuana, she opposed sentencing reform, she opposed pretty much everything that Obama was doing and for that matter everything Congress was doing,” says Bill Piper, the director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.

The Drug Policy Alliance is one of several drug and marijuana policy organizations that have previously called for Leonhart’s removal. Following a speech in which Leonhart was critical of Obama’s assertion that smoking marijuana was no more harmful that drinking alcohol, the Marijuana Policy Project and over 47,000 citizens called for her to resign. A Drug Policy Alliance petition called for her removal following revelations that the DEA had been tracking citizens’ phone calls for decades. Organizations including Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws have also called for her resignation.

Though who will be filling in for Leonhart isn’t yet clear, activists say her replacement should be more supportive of ongoing reform initiatives, including reducing mass incarceration and taking the health impact of drugs into consideration when formulating policy. What’s more, Piper says, her removal could lead the Obama administration to reschedule marijuana before the President leaves office.

“This offers a good opportunity for marijuana reform to move forward quicker than it has been moving,” Piper says.

More than that, though, it could signal and even steeper change to policy regarding the enforcement of drug laws. As more states consider legalizing marijuana in some form—23 states have legalized medical use and four have given the green light to toking up recreationally. Six additional states could consider legalization during the 2016 election. As the nation’s stance on that shifts, so too should its approach to drug enforcement, advocates say.

“Within the next 10 years, I see massive drug policy reform and therefore really an end to the DEA,” Franklin says. The new leader, he says, should approach the role as if he or she is “dismantling a decommissioned battleship and selling the pieces for scrap metal.”

“For most part, the DEA exists because they’re enforcing prohibition,” he adds. “I believe we’re moving away from prohibition and more toward health.”

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