The Ultimate Guide to
5-MeO-DMT is a potentially illegal substance, and we do not encourage or condone the use of this substance where it is against the law. However, we accept that illegal drug use occurs, and believe that offering responsible harm reduction information is imperative to keeping people safe. For that reason, this guide is designed to ensure the safety of those who decide to use the substance.
Visit facilities where this medicine is legalized here.
In Central and South America, 5-MeO-DMT is most often sourced from Anadenanthera peregrina (yopo or cohoba) and Virola theiodora—both of which are traditionally harvested to make psychoactive snuff.
It’s also found in the milky white venom of the Sonoran Desert Toad (Bufo alvarius/Incilius alvarius; aka the Colorado River Toad ), which is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Venom harvesting has put pressure on the population of this ecologically sensitive species. It’s currently listed as imperiled or locally instinct in several states in the US. Seeking out alternatives sources of 5-MeO DMT, such as synthetic or plant-derived versions, is strongly recommended.
In keeping with its ceremonial use among indigenous Amazonians, 5-MeO-DMT shows great promise in the treatment of certain medical conditions. In fact, a single inhalation of the substance has been shown to greatly improve general well-being and mindfulness as well as reduce the symptoms of psychological disorders.
While research into 5-MeO-DMT is limited, a few studies have supported the anecdotal evidence. In a recent preliminary study, 42 participants who took 5-MeO-DMT reported high levels of life satisfaction and mindfulness as well as lower levels of depression and anxiety. The effects persisted for four weeks, when a follow-up assessment was completed.
These results support the findings of a survey of 362 people who had taken 5-MeO-DMT. After using the psychedelic, 80% of respondents reported improvements in anxiety and depression.
5-MeO-DMT has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years as anecdotal reports of its potential as a healing agent have come to light. This has incentivized some bad practices among guides and other practictioners, including everything from overharvesting and the ecological strain on Sonoran Desert toad mentioned above, as well as sexual abuse and even unintended deaths in several documented cases.
What to Expect
Vaporizing or smoking 5-MeO-DMT powder is the most common route of administration. The effects are usually felt within the first 30 seconds after consumption, peaking from 1-15 minutes and lasting for up to half an hour. When taking synthetic 5-MeO-DMT, a threshold dose is around 1-2 mg, while a moderate-to-strong dose is 5-10 mg. When naturally derived, the threshold dose is 5-10 mg and a moderate-to-strong dose is 20-40 mg.
The effects of 5-MeO-DMT come on strong, often with a loss of physical coordination and control. Users experience bright colors, moving environments, or recursive patterns, and perhaps even “environmental orbism” at higher doses. However, visual effects are limited. Unlike DMT, 5-MeO-DMT isn’t known for its visionary properties. The experience is more often described as a “perspective shift” characterized by physical, emotional, and conceptual effects.
One of the most common features of the 5-MeO-DMT experience is the enhancement of tactile awareness, which can reach the point of sensory overload. The body may also feel heavier. Intense emotions are typical, ranging from extreme fear to euphoria. During the onset, anxiety or excitement are often felt. It’s also common to experience an overwhelming sense of oneness with the universe, or a sense of being outside of time and space while simultaneously experiencing the totality of both. Ego death is also typical of the 5-MeO-DMT experience. Other effects include auditory hallucinations, time distortion, nausea, and memory loss.
Listen to our podcast episode with Ashley Booth talking about How To Build A Psychedelic Community or Click here to read the transcript
Like the other tryptamines, 5-MeO-DMT has the same basic structure as DMT, but has a methoxy group in the R5 position. It works primarily as a serotonin (5-HT) receptor agonist, with a particular binding affinity to the 5-HT1A receptor subtype. It also binds to 5-HT2A and trace amine receptors, possibly mediating hallucinogenic effects via the latter. Reuptake inhibition of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline and dopamine are also thought to be involved in 5-MeO-DMT’s function.
There is some evidence that indolealkylamines, including 5-MeO-DMT, cause serotonin syndrome when overdosed or combined. Of particular concern are possible interactions with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as harmaline or harmine. These are sometimes combined with the drug to enhance its effect, but can dangerously increase exposure to both 5-MeO-DMT and its active metabolite bufotenine.
Some other safety concerns have been flagged by animal studies. In rats, 5-MeO-DMT was found to induce hypothermia at low doses (0.5-1 mg/kg) and hyperthermia at high doses (3-10 mg/kg). In sheep, grazing on the 5-MeO-DMT-containing Phalaris tuberose/aquatica (or bulbous canary-grass) caused fatal tachycardia and respiratory failure. Although more likely due to other toxins in the plant, this severe reaction underscores the need for caution when approaching 5-MeO-DMT’s many and varied natural sources.
5-MeO-DMT doses are different depending on whether the substance is synthetic and naturally derived.
Small: 3-6 mg
Medium: 6-10 mg
Large: 11-15+ mg
Small: 10-20 mg
Medium: 20-40 mg
Large: 40-60+ mg
Benefits & Risks03
5-MeO-DMT has been used as a healing agent by South American shamans for thousands of years, partially due to its ability to occasion mystical-type experiences. While research into the drug is still limited, recent studies are backing up these ancient claims.
In a survey of 362 adults, 80% of respondents reported improvements in anxiety and depression after using 5-MeO-DMT, as well as an increase in well-being and life satisfaction. More than that, improvements were directly related to the intensity of the mystical effects felt during the experience. Respondents that had intense mystical experiences also reported higher rates of the experience’s personal meaning and spiritual significance.
The benefits of 5-MeO-DMT have also proven to be enduring—in a recent preliminary study, 42 participants who took 5-MeO-DMT reported an increase in levels of life satisfaction and mindfulness as well as lower levels of depression and anxiety. The effects persisted for four weeks after the initial experience when a follow-up assessment was completed.
One of the unique aspects of 5-MeO-DMT is the short duration of the experience compared to more common psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin. While research has shown that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy can help people with a variety of psychological disorders, these sessions often require a 7 to 8-hour session. Because 5-MeO-DMT is short-acting and lasts just 30-90 minutes, it shows promise as an accompaniment to therapy sessions, which are typically 60 to 90 minutes.
A recent study from The Journal of Psychopharmacology found that 5-MeO-DMT is safe to use and has a low risk of health consequences.
However, there are some things to be aware of before diving into an experience. 5-MeO-DMT should not be taken with MAOIs, including some antidepressants. Combining them may cause severe hypertensive symptoms (elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature), seizures, long-term kidney damage, serotonin syndrome, and even death.
Because of the somewhat unpredictable nature of 5-MeO-DMT, a sitter is definitely recommended. Short-term unconsciousness, respiratory depression, and delusional interactions with the environment are some of the things to watch out for. At the very least, it should be taken in a comfortable seated or lying position to avoid falling over.
Those new to 5-MeO-DMT should start out with a low dose, weighed on a scale accurate to 0.002 g (2 mg). Since people tend to react differently to the same doses (and it’s not entirely clear why) caution is advised, even if you have prior experience of tryptamines.
As with any psychedelic, follow the 6Ss of psychedelic use to minimize the risks of a bad experience.
In the past few years, however, interest in 5-MeO-DMT has grown, along with research. In one study, researchers gave 5-MeO-DMT to mice and found a major downregulation in mGluR5, a receptor involved in the reward mechanism of drug abuse. Not only are mice without the mGluR5 gene less likely to self-administer cocaine and ethanol, they also show less severe symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Furthermore, cells treated with 5-MeO-DMT showed an upregulation of integrins. Antidepressant medications create a similar response, suggesting that 5-MeO-DMT could have antidepressant properties.
As previously mentioned, in two recent surveys totaling more than 400 people, the vast majority reported improvements in anxiety and depression after using 5-MeO-DMT, as well as an increase in well-being and life satisfaction. For some, the experience also helped them recover for PTSD or addiction.
The John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic Research is beginning to study the effects of 5-MeO-DMT, with researcher Alan Davis believing the drug could be effective at treating mental illness due to neurological changes in users’ brains caused by the substance as well as insights gained through the psychedelic experience.
Dr. Joseph Barsuglia, Clinical Research Director at Mexico’s Crossroads Ibogaine Treatment Center, is also researching 5-MeO-DMT as a potential treatment for addiction. He believes that using 5-MeO-DMT in partnership with the psychedelic ibogaine could prove to be a powerful combination for eradicating issues of substance abuse. “People are talking about melting into God, being united with the universe, clearing longstanding trauma and pain that was stored in their bodies,” he said. “We’re finding that the combination of [5-MeO-DMT and ibogaine] is like… 1+1=5. It’s just exponential.”
Additionally, 5-MeO-DMT appears to have a placebo analgesic effect comparable to hypnosis. Like the other classical psychedelics, it may be useful in the treatment of acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, including some cancers.
More indirectly, 5-MeO-DMT is also helping researchers better understand the neurobiological basis of schizophrenic hallucinations—ultimately paving the way for more effective antipsychotic drugs.
This experience is often described in positive terms—even if it was terrifying at the time. Many see it as a process of death and rebirth followed by lasting self-improvements, including mental clarity, increased motivation, enhanced awareness, joy in living, and a sense of inner peace. Some have also had enlightenment experiences, characterized by a sense of inseparability from the universe or of being “all that exists.” Often, these experiences come in waves or reactivations over the following days or weeks.
Being forced to let go of the ego is precisely what draws many people to 5-MeO-DMT. The dissolution experience can impart an understanding and acceptance of mortality that helps people overcome the fear of death. It can also heal past trauma, negative behaviors, and habitual negative thought patterns.
One group of 5-MeO-DMT ‘practitioners’ have also reported that there are a number of specific integration and grounding techniques to increase the potential for growth. These include acupuncture, massage, physical exercise, certain foods, and even just talking to others. Interestingly, they advise against meditation because it could end up prolonging the grounding/integration period by triggering additional reactivations.
If you want to find out more about the topic check out our podcast interview with Natasja Pelgrom where we talk about 5-MeO-DMT, Integration, and Connecting With the Divine or Click here to read the transcript
5-MeO-DMT legality in USA
5-MeO-DMT is a Schedule I controlled substance in the US, making it illegal to manufacture, distribute, possess, or buy. 5-MeO-DMT-containing plants, however, are generally not controlled, particularly in Oakland, CA, all “entheogenic plants” were decriminalized in 2019. This allows adults aged 21 years and older to use them either medicinally (in accordance with the resolution’s official intent) or for any other reason without fear of criminal punishment. It also specifically decriminalizes (or rather deprioritizes for law enforcement) their cultivation and distribution.
5-MeO-DMT legality in Canada
Some people choose to buy 5-MeO-DMT in Canada, where the substance is not controlled. However, it should go without saying that a 5-MeO-DMT supplier in Canada cannot legally ship the substance to a country where it remains illegal.
5-MeO-DMT legality in Mexico
The legal status of 5-MeO-DMT in Mexico is similar to Canada. However, it has a less clandestine feel south of the border; 5-MeO-DMT retreats are actually quite common in Mexico.
5-MeO-DMT legality elsewhere
Laws prohibit the use of 5-MeO-DMT in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and many European countries. In Denmark, it’s permitted for use in research.
5-MeO DMT and the Sustainability of the Sonoran Desert Toad
Though there are several natural and synthetic sources of 5-MeO-DMT, the use of “toad medicine” has become venerated, increasing its demand in Mexico, the United States, and in some countries in Europe and South America. This has put a strain on the Sonoran Desert Toad (Bufo alvarius) population, whose habitat is relatively small, spanning southeastern California, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and northwestern Mexico.
In the United States, there are ongoing efforts to add the Sonoran Desert toad to the endangered species list. And while it’s not currently listed as a protected species at the federal level, it is considered imperiled in New Mexico and possibly locally extinct in southern California.
Though the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) does not classify the toad as an endangered species, the classification dates back to 2004, which doesn’t reflect the recent surge in interest in the toad’s therapeutic and psychedelic potential. In addition to endangering the population, this is also causing the toad to become a victim of black market trafficking as well as inhumane breeding and “milking” practices in captivity.
The destruction of the toad population can be avoided by using synthetic 5-MeO-DMT instead of vapor from the toad. Many people believe toad medicine is superior because of its “purity”, but there is no evidence that 5-MeO-DMT derived from toads produces a better/different experience or outcome than synthetic 5-MeO-DMT.
Cultural considerations also need to be taken into account. A group of eight indigenous cultures originally from the Sonoran Desert have started promoting the use of the substance as an effort to revive their cultural identity. There is some debate as whether or not toad medicine was used in these cultural practices prior to Ken Nelson’s discovery of the toad’s psychoactive effects.
In either case, the use 5-MeO-DMT into the indigenous cultures of the US has also brought it into the reclamation of ancestral medicine in Mexico.
While these groups traditionally use peyote, mushrooms, ayahuasca, and iboga in their ceremonies, the Bufo alvarius toad is now joining (or rejoining) the list.
This brings up the question of cultural appropriation. Toad medicine is being used in locations and contexts that are very different from the indigenous cultures in which it originated.
Small scale, local use of the toad-derived 5-MeO DMT in indigenous practices is much more likely to be sustainable and arguably more ethical, especially when considering many of these populations don’t have access to alternatives. But beyond local use, where plant-based and/or synthetic alternatives are more easily accessible, it’s difficult to argue for harvesting the toad-derived compound at scale.
Ethics Violations Among Guides
Psychonauts, neohealers, therapists, and urban shamans alike are becoming 5-MeO-DMT facilitators, and retreats offering 5-MeO-DMT in ceremonial settings for profit are popping up in Mexico and South America.
While this has caused friction with practitioners from indigenous cultures, it’s also created a market for charlatans taking advantage of people under the influence of 5-MeO-DMT and not in control of their bodies. Two such practitioners—Gerardo Sandoval and Octavio Rettig—have been accused of sexual abuse, psychological manipulation, intentional overdosing, physical violence, hospitalizations, and, in Rettig’s case, at least four deaths.
This highlights the need to be diligent in vetting facilitators and to be careful who you choose to sit with. For more information on how to select a 5-MeO DMT retreat, we recommend visiting our psychedelic directory and checking out this informative guide.
History & Stats08
In 1737, Joseph Gumilla observed a similar practice, with yupa (or yopo), among the Otomac of southern Venezuela. Some time later, Alexander von Humboldt described how the snuff was made. First, the seeds of the Acacia niopo (Adenanthera peregrina) were left to blacken, then mashed into a paste with cassava flour and lime from snail shells. This mixture was dried over a fire and pulverized for use, then inhaled through a Y-shaped bone tube, such as a plover leg, with the forked ends straddling the septum. Another account from Richard Spruce in the mid-1800s described the use of tubes between two people—one to blow the snuff into the nostrils of the other. Spruce also collected specimens of the Adenanthera peregrina for identification.
In 1936, 5-MeO-DMT was synthesized by the chemists Toshio Hoshino and Kenya Shimodaira. But it wasn’t until 1959 that it was finally identified as the major psychoactive component of yopo/cohoba. It was also found in the venom of the Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius/Incilius alvarius or Sonoran Desert Toad), sometimes at levels of up to 15% by volume.
From the early 1970s, 5-MeO-DMT could be legally ordered in the US and other countries via mail order from the Church of the Tree of Life and the Church of the Toad of Light. Since scales accurate to the milligram weren’t widely available, it was typically added to parsley or cannabis to help with dosing.
Recreational use steadily increased over the ensuing decades while remaining underground. In the 1990s, ethnobotanist Jonathan Ott and others popularized and developed 5-MeO-DMT for sale on the internet. In 2001, the research chemical vendor Mark Niemoller was arrested under the Controlled Substances Analogue Act of 1986. He was released on house arrest after agreeing to stop selling 5-MeO-DMT and a number of other substances. In July 2004, “Operation Web Tryp” saw the DEA shut down five more 5-MeO-DMT and research chemical vendors, prompting numerous others to stop trading voluntarily. In January 2011, 5-MeO-DMT was declared a Schedule I drug in the United States.
5-MeO-DMT is often conflated with other tryptamines or “novel psychoactive substances” in major drug surveys, so it’s difficult to gauge how prevalent its use is. However, it’s possible to get a general feel for its popularity over time by looking at Google search statistics. Between 2004 (the year of “Operation Web Tryp”) and 2007, searches for 5-MeO-DMT fell dramatically and have remained at a steady low ever since.
“5-MeO-DMT is a form of DMT”
This myth is based on a common, and potentially very dangerous, misunderstanding of pharmacology. It’s no more a form of DMT than psilocybin is. Although the two substances are chemically related, the effects of 5-MeO-DMT and DMT are substantially different, as are their safety profiles. 5-MeO-DMT, for example, has a much lower toxicity threshold than DMT, so conflating the two could be dangerous.
“Licking toads is an easy way to get high.”
Alexander Shulgin attributed this myth (or rather, very bad idea) to sensationalism in the media. Licking the Colorado River Toad has never been a common method for obtaining 5-MeO-DMT, for the simple reason that it’s deadly. Other chemicals in raw toad secretions are known to be cardiotoxic, which means they’ll disrupt the functioning of the heart. Numerous humans have died after licking toads and one child who was hospitalized with seizures from the venom took a week to recover. Given that just this one, geographically isolated species is known to be psychoactive, there’s also the danger of licking the wrong toad entirely, which can cause death or permanent paralysis.
Where can I find legal 5-MeO-DMT retreats and experiences?
Third Wave has created its own psychedelic provider directory for you to find curated, legal 5-MeO-DMT retreats. All retreats listed have either been verified or rigorously vetted by the Third Wave team, so you can feel confident knowing that these options are worth considering in this vulnerable and transformative experience.
Can it be detected in a drug test?
5-MeO-DMT isn’t detected in any standard or extended drug tests, nor are there specialized tests to look for it. Also, since it’s unlike other drugs tested for, it shouldn’t trigger a false positive.
Where can I buy 5-MeO-DMT online?
You can usually find 5-MeO-DMT for sale from vendors in Canada, Mexico, and other countries where it isn’t controlled. If you don’t live in one of these countries, however, it’s still illegal to buy 5-MeO-DMT online from a vendor in Canada (for example) and import it.
Can I test my 5-MeO-DMT to see if it’s safe to take?
Testing your 5-MeO-DMT is always good practice even when you trust your supplier. Reagent test kits from Bunk Police can identify hundreds of adulterants and substitutes—offering peace of mind and potentially saving your life.
The Hofmann and Mecke reagents, for example, can help identify real 5-MeO-DMT. Simply place a tiny amount of 5-MeO-DMT into a sterile test tube or onto a sterile white ceramic surface and add a few drops of the reagent. Then check the color change (or lack thereof) against the supplied spectrum booklet.
Can 5-MeO-DMT cause psychological trauma?
Most people find the 5-MeO-DMT experience overwhelming. Consensus reality, the physical environment, body, and self tend to fall away and behavior can become irrational. While long-term psychosis seems improbable, it may take some time to fully recover from the 5-MeO-DMT experience.
After higher doses, some users have reported persistent psychological difficulties, including paranoia and the subtle (but controllable) resurfacing of effects, that can last for several weeks.
Are there risks?
Taken in the presence of a sitter with no other drugs or contraindicated medications (like MAOI antidepressants), 5-MeO-DMT appears to be relatively safe. That said, persistent anxiety has been reported after just one use, along with sleep disruption and panic attacks. To help minimize the risks, it’s a good idea to start with low, precisely measured doses, and have an experienced sitter present.
Alternatively, you may wish to be in the presence of a more actively engaged facilitator, or ‘practitioner’—a 5-MeO-DMT specialist trained to guide and help integrate your experience. Click here for in-depth tips on how to choose the right person or group for the job and what you should expect them to do.
What should I do in the event of a 5-MeO-DMT overdose?
5-MeO-DMT overdose reports indicate a risk of breathing difficulties and loss of consciousness. If this happens, roll the person onto their side and call the emergency services, keeping them calm until paramedics arrive. A responsible, trained sitter may also need to provide mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after checking the airway is clear.
Is it legal to cultivate natural 5-MeO-DMT sources (5-MeO-DMT plants, 5-MeO-DMT toad species, etc.)?
Cultivating plant sources of Schedule I drugs is a bit of a legal grey area (except in specified cases like cannabis and peyote, and where entheogenic/psychedelic plants are specifically decriminalized). While the law prohibits “any material containing any quantity” of illegal substances, the likelihood of prosecution is slim. On the other hand, 5-MeO-DMT extraction from any source is definitely illegal and will lead to prosecution if caught.
Regarding toads, the rules are clearer. In New Mexico, only state residents may collect them without a license. Both residents and non-residents of Arizona need a fishing license to collect a maximum of 10 Colorado River Toads. In California, meanwhile, it’s a misdemeanor to collect toads and possession is against the law. Regardless of the legality, though, the Colorado River Toad is a threatened species. Keeping toads in captivity—not to mention regular “milking”—is found to damage their health.
What’s the safest way to take it?
There is no entirely safe way, but vaporizing or smoking 5-MeO-DMT powder is by far the most tried and tested. The onset of effects is shorter than with insufflated or sublingual use. However, some people experience chest pains from the smoke. Others experience no effects whatsoever and prefer intravenous or intramuscular injections. These induce rapid, intense effects even at low doses. Swallowing the drug isn’t recommended due to safety concerns and it’s often ineffective anyway.
Can I microdose with 5-MeO-DMT?
As people’s reactions vary immensely, it’s hard to give a reliable microdose range. Some have felt profound effects on less than a threshold dose, while others experience only mild effects from a moderate dose.
Can I develop a tolerance?
Yes, tolerance develops almost immediately and takes two hours to return to baseline. There is no cross-tolerance with other psychedelics.
Can I mix it with other drugs?
It shouldn’t be mixed with MAOIs or RIMAs, including some antidepressants, due to the risk of serotonin syndrome and death. Releasing agents and reuptake inhibitors, for serotonin and dopamine especially, can be dangerous in combination. For this reason, mixing 5-MeO-DMT with other psychoactive drugs is discouraged. Combining with alcohol is strongly discouraged due to the risk of vomiting and subsequent choking.
Is 5-MeO-DMT similar to 5-MeO-MiPT, 5-MeO-DALT, 5-MeO-DiPT, etc.?
Not necessarily. Substances in the 5-MeO group may share some basic similarities, but effects and safety can vary. Dosage in particular tends to vary significantly, as does legal status—so it’s unwise to assume they’re interchangeable.
Here’s a brief overview:
5-MeO-MiPT, or Moxy, can be taken orally (e.g. as 5-MeO-MiPT HCl) or smoked (as freebase). Threshold effects may be felt from as little as 1-2 mg taken orally (or 10-15 mg 5-MeO-MiPT if smoked). 15+ mg is considered strong or heavy and the experience can last 5-8 hours. Some people use 5-MeO-MiPT for sex. Although it’s possible to buy 5-MeO-MiPT online in the USA, its legal status is unclear.
5-MeO-DiPT, also known as Foxy or Foxy methoxy, is entactogenic and sexual, similar to 5-MeO-MiPT. It’s usually taken orally as 5-MeO-DiPT HCl (3-15+ mg) and has a duration of up to 8 hours. Although a Schedule I substance in the USA, in Canada, 5-MeO-DiPT is legal.
5-MeO-DALT is taken orally as 5-MeO-DALT HCl at a dosage of 4-30+ mg. Like the 5-MeOs described above, it’s mildly psychedelic and often used for sex. Apparently, it also helps alleviate cluster headaches. You might find 5-MeO-DALT for sale in the USA, given that it’s unscheduled—outside of Florida, at least. But it may be considered an analogue of 5-MeO-DiPT.
5-MeO-aMT, or Alpha, has a reported threshold dose of just 0.5 mg, and 6-15 mg may be heavy. Effects are said to last 8-12 hours. On Erowid, 5-MeO-aMT is linked to a number of hospitalizations and possible deaths following overdose (ranging from 5-50 mg). It’s reportedly unscheduled in the USA—with the exception of Florida.
- 5-MeO-pyr-T: potentially dangerous at just 0.5-3 mg*
- 5-MeO-MALT: reportedly euphoric at 15-50 mg oral*
- 5-MeO-DET: uncomfortable drunk feeling at 1-3 mg oral*
- 5-MeO-TMT: sexually stimulating at 65-90 mg; nauseating at 120+ mg
- 5-MeO-BFE (aka dimemebfe)
* dose/effects based on limited reports and by no means definitive; included only to give a sense of the variation within the 5-MeO group of substances
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