Don Briere Sells Marijuana For The Crown – Ottawa interview by Roy Berger SEPT 11, 2016

Don Briere owns Weeds Glass & Gifts, a chain of over 20 marijuana dispensaries located in many cities through out Canada. He once went to jail for operating over 30 grow-ops using 77 thousand high pressure bulbs. Currently he signs many cheques, employs over a hundred people, and requires receipts for the buying and selling of cannabis.

Lately he has engaged the city of Vancouver and Abbotsford with Charter challenges regarding the unconstitutionality of their marijuana dispensary laws. On July 28th I had the opportunity to talk to Don while he was in Ottawa and this is the text of that interview.


rb-1Don Briere “Basically, I have nothing to hide and I don’t lie to Revenue Canada.”

Roy Berger “It’s so much easier that way, isn’t it?”

DB “Yeah. Yeah. And so the bottom line is, is we have to turn this around. I talk about the tax man, tax part, tax people who don’t pay taxes, all this kind of shit, right? So to me it’s more important to use our cops, our police to go after the bad people. The police can go after the bad people who do human trafficking and prey on people. That to me is the more important thing. We don’t need them to chase us.”

RB “You are totally engaged in a non-violent issue.”

DB “Of course, but the thing is in the pot business there’s too many people who have come to the game. The first and foremost in the past, was making it illegal. So I don’t know if you are aware but there was a little article about someone from Watergate…”
RB “Oh, Nixon, Erlichman…”

DB “Yeah, yeah, Erlichman. They were talking about it and I just happened to notice this little quote and what it said was they criminalized groups of people and associated them with heroin and marijuana. Blacks and marijuana. And, and the thing is a minuscule detail that’s extremely important to me anyway. See over the years we have been trying to educate them. They knew about it see so it was a deliberate thing. It was deliberately done and that’s a really disgusting criminal act.”

RB “But don’t you think that back then, marijuana was much more associated with Marxism, communism and the counter culture in general?”

DB “Yeah but not now. Read the article. We don’t even have to speculate about that. They were specifically for hippies and the war protesters okay? So that’s who they were targeting. This was the important thing.”

RB “To break the back of the war resistance.”

DB “Yeah exactly because you know how many people were against the war in Vietnam? And you know how many people died there? Oh, God. So tell me about this. For example, there were certain recommendations in 1972.”

RB “The Le Dain Commission?”

DB “Of course so again, now picture that and picture Colorado after two years. What’s going on in Colorado? The police no longer have to arrest, transport, jail, do paperwork…”

RB “And they’re getting a healthy 29% sales tax.”

DB “Look at that. And that’s an amazing thing so not only is the money staying in the community where before all those millions of dollars were coming to a select few and they would, you know, spend in on whatever, mansions, or aircraft or get it out of the country. And now they spend local, there is revenue generated for the government. The cost of one person in a Federal prison can pay the tuition fees for twenty-two of our kids. So that’s part of what about the children. So why are you putting marijuana people, non-violent people who want a job and to pay taxes in jail?”

DB “Again, when we talk to anybody especially the police. We tell them that not only do we pay all the taxes everybody else does, a considerable amount but we drain money away from organized crime who buy guns, heroin, cocaine, shoot at people. Human trafficking, okay? If they can get our kids addicted to some kind of drug they will, and that’s where human trafficking comes in. So again, police officers in Vancouver and especially Abbotsford. You want to do an interview? Do a phone interview with Police Chief Jim Doxer.

rb-2-aThe mayor had been ordering him, ordering him, to go in and total my stores in Abbotsford and he’s refusing. Why? He’s too busy handling the shoot outs and there are shoot outs almost on a daily basis for weeks at a time in Vancouver and the Vancouver area, in Vancouver proper itself because there seems to be one activity. The police focus more on violent people and hard drugs. They don’t have to worry about cannabis, right? So it’s a job shift there.”

DB “Toronto and Alliston are going to get five Insites where you can consume hard drugs without picking up diseases and passing them around. The Insites have nurses there and it has the drug to save overdose patients. I believe they saved 500 lives 600 lives now. You know people who’ve taken the wrong drug and so it’s done a spectacular thing. It’s kept these people alive ‘til they can use a preventative drug called cannabis which they get at dispensaries in Vancouver. Right now because of the Fentanyl overdoses. I think Surrey had forty in one weekend and there is a drug they whack them with right away that like neutralizes it, Naloxone.”

DB “The Allard decision so, as you know, so tie that in with what the Judge said, that the dispensaries provide a valuable service to the community. And it’s so unequal across the country just like the unequal States of America. Buy a pound of weed in Washington State and then go to another state and get two years in prison. So there is a point to this story, and that would be that. Insite announced they have seen the usage of hard drug use down considerably. And they attributed that to accessibility to medical cannabis dispensaries as an exit. So when they say these people who are supporting of these laws that state you become a murderer or rapist and move on to harder drugs, go insane and a gateway drug-those are all lies and you remember in the Nixon era they lied about the criminality of all this kind of stuff.”

weeds-pb-cupDB “But you have to understand then is, my stand here is, that was a criminal thing and they caused thousands of people to die okay? There are veterans who came back from Vietnam and this is well documented, who had missing body parts and were growing weed in the back country and they would come in with Blackhawk helicopters and the guy would be sitting there with his rifle and they would sniper him and kill him and this is documented.”

DB “So enforcing laws based on lies is what makes the pot laws fall. You can not enforce laws based on lies. The law is the law. But you can not enforce the law based on misconceptions, threats and lies. Okay? So now we call that. You know that we have 1,300 soldiers living on the street right now? So and now we’ve sent more of our soldiers over seas and we have three different war zones right now and WE’RE a threat to the country? That smells. There’s something wrong with this picture here, okay? The whole thing is job shifting and where are their priorities? You can see there is still a war on drugs. We are still fighting it. We just filed a Charter Appeal.”

RB “I’m as up to date on you as I can possibly be.”

DB “You’re saying that because you’re sitting right across from me.”

RB “As much as you have done time, you have taken hits and you are a warrior.”

DB “I’ve been in the war zone for 25 years and I’ve been in it for 51 years. That’s how long I’ve been doing it. What they did to Marc Emery, that was treason. That was disgusting. That was criminal misuse of public resources. So there was something fishy about that. It was personal. There was a pretty good reason why. It was the heckling at the meeting with John Walters the top cop for Bush at the time. There was bunch of people there and Marc and his friends kept shouting, “Lies, lies, lies.” So after that, that was it. He had an absolute zone on him. I think, I believe John Walters walked into the Amsterdam café and he started screaming, “Arrest these people. Arrest these people. They’re smoking pot!” He was freaking out. And I think it was the Vancouver police chief, I could be slightly off the story, who told him to settle down and also the manager of the place and he also told John Walters to, “Get out of my place and don’t come back.” A year or two later he was found dead of an unknown cause of death.”

RB “Who?”

DB “The manager of The Amsterdam Cafe. So there is always funny stuff happening. It makes you wonder. It makes you think about this. There was a huge fire at the Blunt Brothers.”

DB “So the bottom line is this has been allowed to happen to Canadian citizens. We have been criminalized, marginalized, attacked, arrested and dragged through the courts all at the cost of the tax payer and on top of that it’s been a lie all the time. The whole thing has been a lie.  So that’s criminal misuse of our public resources once more. Before we use to defend. We use to try and teach people because we thought they were stupid or dumb or both or everything. And the rest we kinda figured they were being paid off but now we know they basically all knew about it, they were just doing it to keep their fiefdom. Now we’re not on the defensive, we’re not teaching. Now we’re on the offensive. Now we call it, criminal misuse of public resources, willful blindness, willful negligence. The evidence is overwhelming. We could fill room after room of the benefits of cannabis from everything to the jobs, the taxes…So from 1972 on can you imagine if Canada had adopted the same action as what’s happening in Colorado now? Education. The number of Black people in prison, the amount of money that could be spent on our children, hospitals and schools?”

RB “When law makers make laws that you know are dumb it’s hard to have respect for the law makers. Kids ought to be admiring police not fearing them.”

DB “I agree 100%. They’re called peace officers. Where did Andy Griffith go? The thing is again they shouldn’t be having to deal with social issues. They’ve emptied out our facilities for mentally challenged people are staying and why should police have to deal with them? They are front line. Officers in Vancouver are dealing with people who have mental problems, alcohol and pills. They are hard working people putting their lives on the line. They work hard, right? The thing is we need to free them up from having to do all this kind of thing. We get help for the homeless and get them off the street that would be a help to our police forces. They could go after violent people, hard drugs and all this kind of stuff. Human trafficking. Human trafficking is happening today.”

DB “Right as we speak and you know look at Project Claudia. They spent 2.5 million dollars on the raid and that was just the tip of the iceberg. They have to package, they have to catalog, they have to store. They have to start the paperwork and process all this kind of stuff. Everything has to be accurate. So behind the scenes also they are lining up all the court stuff and the court stuff is the really expensive stuff. This is where the lawyers are at $300 to $400 an hour and dozens of them start to work so the 2.5 million is not even barely the tip of the iceberg that they’ve wasted. I would question how far that would go to help our veterans.”

RB “To what extent are you able to help or intercede when it comes to your employee’s legal problems?”

DB “Okay. So we basically have about a hundred thousand dollars now into legal fees. And what it is now is a Charter challenge and this is Canada wide. It starts right here in Vancouver. We’ve been fighting this. I’ve gone to jail. I’ve been harassed. I’ve been attacked, okay. Now I refer to myself as a P.O.W. of the pot wars. And anybody in Washington State as an example, when ‘we the people’ down there voted to legalize cannabis they basically immediately stopped arresting people. Here in Canada, just-not-true-dough continued with the law of the land and continued to encourage law enforcement officers to squander and waste our tax resources while there are still pedophiles and violent people out there and our soldiers are on the streets. Again once more I have to keep reminding people that this and especially the people comfortable with it that they are using WILLFUL BLINDNESS. But anyways it’s time to end the stupidity war. It’s time to put the money where it should be going.”

DB “We pay massive amounts of tax both GST and PST, personal income tax, corporate tax. We pay massive taxes and they throw it away. They’ve cost us a huge amount of money. When they shovel it into a pile and set it on fire that’s stupidity. These people aren’t smart enough to be in the position they are and they shouldn’t be there.  And if they’re smart enough to be there, they are using willful blindness and or illegal lobbying and having monies put into their hands what ever way they do through some kind of contribution. That’s influence and that’s influence peddling and everything else that goes with it. It’s one or the other, either they are not smart enough to be in the position they are or they are being influenced and that’s illegal and they said they were going to consult with us and they’ve not consulted with any of us, okay.

DB “You can see on You Tube yourself. Loblaws, a chain, who have been distributing drugs for a long time. They sell drugs if there is a school across the street. Galen Weston says they want to distribute marijuana. They want to put up walls and section off part of their building, punch a hole through the wall so that the smell doesn’t contaminate and they want to sell cannabis and they’re already purchasing paraphernalia for consuming cannabis.”

DB “You know, it seems there will be no consultation and we will have to do it through the courts as the Allard decision. They want to give it to Loblaws and they want to give it to their bought monopoly. So this is criminal misuse of public resources, so we are not standing for this, so we are going to court and if we win we are going to sue them. There’s this thing called, proceeds of crime and proceeds of crime means if you use your job in a criminal enterprise then what we do is we take your money, your house, your car, your bank account and we put you in jail and their pensions as well, make sure we take their pension. So let’s question that, so I really would like to put that out there that criminal misuse of funds will not be tolerated in a democracy.”

DB “You can leave the recorder on or off but I need to have a little toke here.”


DB “I’ll have a dab and some water. See for me dabbing…in 1974 I had a motorcycle accident. I was 21. I was a passenger on a motorcycle and for me it’s pain relief.” (Don pulls up his pant leg to reveal a long deep scar.) “My side effect is a bit of appetite and do my work without too much impairment and its important work. The side effects are relaxation, happiness and appetite. I was on Lipitor, the pharmaceutical, and so all of a sudden I was going jaundice, my liver shut down. I was dying okay. So I was in intensive care for eleven days and this was the prison hospital so the thing is it cost 3 or 4 times more to treat me in there so that was the side effect of the drug I was taking. It was killing me. It wasn’t a sudden death. It was a slow painful death.”

RB “Sudden death doesn’t make a lot of money compared to a nice slow one stretched out over 20 years.”

DB “Now I’m not on any pharmaceutical whatsoever and I consume cannabis. My liver has recovered. There is no hangover. Tylenol 3 says it might cause liver damage so this is truth in advertising. So again the side effect of a lot of these pharmaceuticals, besides killing you, is a hangover the next day and it’s difficult to function. We are in a great position to distribute this because we’ve been doing it, doesn’t matter if there is a school across the street or not and the other thing is every nineteen minutes somebody dies of accidental overdose of pharmaceuticals.”

DB “They are costing the tax payers phenomenal amounts of money that’s being wasted and the other thing is it’s killing off people.”

RB “What do you say to nervous landlords that are renting to these dispensaries? Sometimes they’re nervous, sometimes cool. It’s hard to be cool looking at a $25,000 fine. I understand that on July 21st several dispensary landlords changed the locks without consulting anyone.”

DB “Oh quite a few of them did because they got the letter. They got the letter.”

RB “What do you say to a landlord that gets a letter like that?”

DB “Well, most of them, it’s hard to blame them. They are being threatened with huge fines and loss of their property so you know what would they rather do? Let the property sit empty and not lose the property or would they rather lose the property? So it’s not a difficult choice to make. How can you argue with that? I mean what am I gonna do, demand the landlord let me stay there while he loses his property? I can’t do that.”

RB “So you come to an equitable agreement where everyone walks away?”

DB “Of course. We signed long term leases because we were going to stay for a long time and we could cover the costs, right. So the problem is they are the ones who broke the lease and so it’s not our choice. The problem is we’ve paid a couple of months up front to rent and hydro and phone, insurance this and that and all this kind of stuff but in the mean time the tax department has said, “Hello, we want our money.” And the last time I checked there was about $400,000 wanting for personal income tax, corporate tax, GST, PST. UIC, Canada Pension, we collect it from all our staff, bundle it off, we have to do a whole rigmarole. It costs a lot of money to do that.”

RB “I understand you pay your employees a living wage of $15.00 an hour.”

DB “We are trying to pay that plus medical and dental. It took me…I can see why business’s fold. It took me months to jump through all the hurdles that not only cost me my time but my people’s time to compile all this stuff for you and you’re charging me? Every time I walk up and down the street and I look, I can’t imagine how these people are surviving because of the hurdles and everything else.”

RB “Stat’s Canada ran a quote saying that 60% of small business owners have an income less than welfare but they’re happier.”

DB “Well that’s because you’re so busy running the race you don’t have time to be sad.”


DB “In Vancouver $20.00 an hour is considered a living wage and that’s not saving a penny, dancing or ringing bells. Now you understand why people are living in the street. Now you understand why our soldiers, 1,300 of them are living on the street, that’s bull shit.”

RB “What happens when a non-Canadian, a foreign tourist walks in to your dispensary?”

DB “So, Colorado driver’s license no problem. In Canada the pot laws have fallen. There’s two sides of the fence, right and wrong. Bill Blair said is that legal or not legal? Right on, you were right, Bill Blair you hypocrite.”

RB “You aren’t concerned about getting extradited if you sell a gram of weed to an American who gets busted at the border?”

DB “Not even remotely.”

RB “You don’t think you’re on that special list?”

DB “Laws don’t work like that. I don’t want to put this on somebody but you see they’ve got to do all the evidence thing. They’ve go to do all this shit. They just can’t come in and say, “Oh yeah, I got it from a weed store and here’s this newspaper picture of the owner. It doesn’t work alike that. “

RB “How many dispensaries do you think Ottawa could support?”

DB “Ottawa? I would base it on numbers and I would think if there are a lot of coffee shops. I would look for sensible laws because the Federal government is stating that they are going to have laws by next spring. I don’t think it’s going to happen because they haven’t even come close with the assisted dialogue.”

RB “For entrepreneurs and small business people thinking of opening a dispensary by various ways and means what do you think is the smallest population size of a city that one would go into? A hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, how about fifty thousand? Would you move into Cornwall or Brantford?” Would you have a cut off that you would only go into cities with a certain population?”

DB “I would think that you would want to go where the demand is like anything else. In a town of 50,000 I would jump over to Sechelt, B.C. Very small community and apparently there are two, maybe three dispensaries there. So in a free market what happens is that they will come in because you know everybody wants a dump truck or a fishing boat so the odd people may want one but can’t do it for some reason but there are others who will step up. Possibly if it’s a tight market unless there’s some kind of regulation about clustering. But how can you do that? There are coffee shops bars and restaurants side by side so it’s kind of difficult to say, “Yes but not you.” You might want to have a 150 metre rule or a not too close to a school rule and all that kind of thing and then most importantly besides getting a classification, you can buy a pet store, gas station or restaurant license but you can’t buy a dispensary license so to speak.”

RB “What about the children?”

DB “I’ll tell you what. You ever seen mom and dad drunk on the floor with a little 2 or 3 year old kid drinking until two in the morning?”

RB “Why should anyone care if a dispensary is across the street from a school? When I was going to school the variety store owners sold both cigarettes and candy. We chose candy. No one tried to sell us tobacco outside of Batman and Popeye cigarette sticks and licorice pipes.”

DB “I personally don’t have a problem with it because it’s education. Look in Europe when a kid is young they get a taste of wine; so are they corrupted by that? In B.C. at 19 the binge drinking and hitting the bottle for the first time is exploitative. Just once in ten years if you do that major mistake of driving through a stop sign and killing three kids, how could you live with that? I knew people who were driving and the guy hit the back end of a tractor trailer and killed his girlfriend but he came out fine. He drank more after that. He drank until he collapsed.”

RB “Do you honour membership cards from other dispensaries?”

DB “Yes we are.”

RB “What do the neighbours think?”

DB “I do know that in Vancouver in 2004 sales went up all around us and then it’s the same thing in Toronto. One of our partners said he would go and spend money person. A lot of stores sell clothes. In Montréal, Vancouver, Toronto and so now we’ve been in there and established. As an example, my store, we spend money. I go to the barber next door every time I get a hair cut. People spend money in the good store across the street. So the stores that were there prior to us at that location failed within six to eight months. The store was empty, kind of derelict, people hanging around out front. We have been there and been a solid renter and on and on. When people come from a distance and they ask for food we just point out the local restaurants. And all the restaurants point out a 20% increase in their business because of the dispensaries.”

RB “We have a couple of city councillors in Ottawa who are terrified, they are flipping out. What can you say to these various city councillors who are alarmed by dispensaries?”

DB “You know I would think that education is the best thing I could say. Learn about it. Do a lot of research. Find out. Look at Dr. Sanja Gupta. He’s the main CNN medical correspondent. He was really against cannabis then he started doing some research about it. Once he learned about it and seen the facts about cannabis CBD’s, epilepsy statistics. People going from 300 seizures a day to just a few. They are giving them CBD’s which is like the difference between grapes and wine. CBD is a non-psychoactive part of the plant and they can resume a normal family life, truly amazing. So many people it helps, really.”

RB “This battle that you’ve been fighting for 25 years it’s not just you it’s the people around you that you know and like and live with. They must be very special people.”

DB “Yep. A lot people get hurt. I call it a dirty little war. I call it the stupidity war. Somebody is going to pay for this.”

RB “Where do you think we will be 24 months from now?”

DB “Still in court unless they wake up and start talking to people. Remember when Washington State voted to legalize they stopped attacking and assaulting cannabis pot people. Here, in Canada, every nine minutes someone is assaulted by the police, attacked for marijuana. We’re paying all the god damn taxes and they are squandering our money. This is criminal misuse of public resources and it’s gotta stop.”

RB “Do you think we need to do more than just have an April 20th gathering that pulls in a lot of people?”

DB “We pick up steam behind the scenes. Charter challenge. Hundred thousand dollars.”

RB “Who is the lawyer in charge of your Charter challenge?”

DB “Dean Davison. You can get all kinds of information on Facebook pages.”

DB “It’s difficult to give people a product and not have a space to consume it like a space with a negative airflow.”

RB “Would you hire someone with a prior conviction involving marijuana?”

DB “Oh yeah. Absolutely. The thing is it’s now known that they lied to criminalize marijuana so the criminal aspect that has to do with cannabis us null and void, okay?  There’s rumours running around for a little bit that Trudeau was going to pardon anybody with a record like that. So how much money are you going to spend criminalizing? And how much money are you going to spend pardoning? That’s bullshit. Stop throwing my money away. You want to waste your own money, no problem. How does he explain his fear of U.N. criticism and threats of sanctions if Canada legalizes pot when so many American states have? Excuse me, pal there is something wrong with this picture. So yeah.”

DB “The other aspect to discuss about pot, you want to put the fear of the big guy upstairs. You don’t need to send the police in. Even when the police come in, they have told 2 or 3 of our people, “We don’t really want to do this.” The word came from the mayor’s office or whatever. It’s come down to Revenue Canada for me. Everybody that I deal with has to accept responsibility for the payment that I give them and I get a receipt with a real name and a real phone number. Some of these guys don’t really have those type of skills and book keeping. If you want to keep organized crime out of this industry all you need to do is step up with the tax man. Just one man walking in and saying, “Hello.” Laughter. “I’ll tell you what, the people involved in organized crime will leave right away and the people who aren’t up to speed and abusing the tax income and other services will fade away.”

DB “We have some one OD’ing every 19 minutes on pharmaceuticals and I think that marijuana dispensaries are doing a good service.”

RB “You’re opening in Quebec City, is that right?”
DB “We’ve been open in Quebec City for a week. We’ve got good support there.”

RB “You are Canada’s biggest pot dealer so it has to be acquired. Sometimes the acquiring of it can turn into a Marx Brother’s comedy of errors.”

DB “I started with two light bulbs and eleven years later when I got busted by 45 RCMP I had seven hundred thousand 1,000-watt high pressure sodium’s in 33 locations producing two and a half tons on a bi-weekly basis.”

RB “What do you think of the rainbow squares of LED’s that are coming on to the market?”

DB “It’s good for savings, heat, energy and everything else. Some of these growers became millionaires and were spending their money like crazy and would get into party mode. They would do the trip when they got paid for pot and there would be bottles of all kinds of stuff on the table and so by the evening everyone is pretty loaded and all this kind of stuff. So these are the people that I guess could cause some trouble. One guy he had a few drinks and he had his marijuana under a tarp in the back of his pick up truck and he went down the highway. He wasn’t too impaired but he had a few. When he got to his home he realized there was no marijuana in the pick-up. The tail gate had opened up. The box had slid out. So he jumps back in the truck to retrace his route. He’s looking around and along the way he saw an RCMP vehicle parked by the side of the road and these two little kids on bicycles were pointing at his truck. So he high tailed it out of there. He never got caught but that cost him thousands of dollars because of a little stupidity. It’s way better to get this out of the criminal element and to a safe element. The kids who go to the park and say, “Hey you got any weed?” And the other kids reply, “No. We ran out but we got some good clean heroin and you know they lied about marijuana.” So we pull away from organized crime who use that money to buy guns and heroin and everything else they need, cocaine and stuff like that and recruiting our young people. We’re taking that avenue away from them. We need to help the people who are living on the street. We need our soldiers helped.”

RB “Can people use their debit cards at your stores?”

DB “Yes we take debit and credit cards. See this gives everybody a paper trail. You can’t hide the money anymore. The paper trail. It doesn’t matter who you are. You can be piloting the Queen Elizabeth or the Titanic. It doesn’t matter how much money you drive if you don’t do it right you can crash. I’ll give you a good example. A lot of the Licensed Producers have put a lot of money in there and they were losing their shirts. Now they just received export licenses to sell to other countries so they are able to salvage themselves. But the thing is they were trying to get all these dispensaries shut down because they weren’t making it. You can’t have somebody being sick on a low income and open the mailbox and find out it’s empty and the day after when it there, it’s the wrong kind.”

DB “We are winning in court all the time because those people like Nixon criminalized it when it should not have been. Now they have packed prisons in America. China is a manufacturer even of their military parts. They have two million people in jail making them a burden to society.  This archaic notion of our prisons goes back to the Kings and Queens and the dungeons. The war marches on. We are not in a defensive position. We are not in a neutral position. We are on the offence. We are going to start calling for the proceeds of crime. We’re going to talk to anybody we can about this. It’s their country too.”

Don and company left for Vancouver by plane later that afternoon.

Roy Berger is a contributor to Fogel’s 2015 Underground Comic Book Guide. and author of 2012 Rabbits



  1. No wonder people are brain dead because so many are on drugs. People are gone to pot. You can see it in the way they walk, talk, drive, etc. People can no longer think for themselves. I agree when someone has a mighty serious illness to take pot to help relieve some of their symptoms but also if you take a certain amount of a drug it won’t work anymore and they need something stronger.

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