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Rats taking cannabis get taste for heroin
news@nature.com ^ | 5 July 2006 | Michael Hopkin

Posted on 07/07/2006 8:13:38 PM PDT by neverdem

news@nature.com - the best science journalism on the web Close window



Published online: 5 July 2006; | doi:10.1038/news060703-9

Rats taking cannabis get taste for heroin

Study suggests cannabis-users may be vulnerable to harder drugs.

Michael Hopkin

Neuroscientists have found that rats are more likely to get hooked on heroin if they have previously been given cannabis. The studies suggest a biological mechanism — at least in rats — for the much-publicized effect of cannabis as a 'gateway' to harder drugs.

The discovery hints that the brain system that produces pleasurable sensations when exposed to heroin may be 'primed' by earlier exposure to cannabis, say researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, who carried out the study.

There has long been a debate about whether exposure to drugs such as nicotine or marijuana might lead to harder habits. Many argue that the most important factors in the equation are social ones: people who get one drug from a dealer are probably more inclined to try another. But researchers are still interested to know whether there is any physiological effect that might additionally predispose users of so-called soft drugs to harder-drug addiction.

To rule out social factors, the researchers turned to an animal model. They dosed some rats with the active ingredient of cannabis and others with a neutral compound during their adolescence (when they were about four to six weeks old). After that, they gave the rats intermittent access to heroin for several weeks, obtained by pressing a lever.

Although all rats helped themselves to heroin, the ones given cannabis's key compound, called Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), during their formative years showed a greater escalation in their self-dosing during the experiment. By the end, rats that'd had cannabis in their 'teens' were pressing the lever that delivered heroin about 1.5 times more than the rats that had previously been drug-free.

 We now know that these drugs have an impact on behaviour later in life. 

Yasmin Hurd,
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York
The researchers report the findings in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology1.

Hard to kick

"It's a nice study, although somewhat preliminary," comments Ian Stolerman, a psychopharmacologist at Kings College London. "It's too early to say there's a consensus, but a small number of studies like this suggest that there is a physiological basis for this effect."

The rat results may be due to the fact that both THC and heroin act on a pleasure pathway in the brain called the opioid system, explains study leader Yasmin Hurd, now at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Exposure to opiates such as heroin triggers the release of chemical messengers in the brain called opioids that stimulate pleasant sensations.

The receptor molecule to which THC binds is also found on brain cells in the opioid system, Hurd adds. Over-stimulation of these receptors through exposure to cannabis may alter these cells so that the brain either feels intensely rewarded by subsequent heroin exposure, or needs an ever-increasing dose to feel the same pleasure — both of which could lead to addiction.

If so, a similar effect may be seen with drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines, which involve another brain pathway called the dopaminergic system, Stolerman adds. Cells involved in this pathway also have THC receptors, possibly indicating that they could also be modified by cannabis exposure.

A slippery slope

But even if the gateway effect is one day found to also have a biological basis in humans, the effect is undoubtedly complicated by social factors. Some social commentators have ascribed the perceived gateway effect to the simple fact that cannabis is cheaper than many other illegal drugs, meaning that adolescents are more likely to use it before graduating to other substances.

Hurd, however, feels that softening the law against marijuana at this point would be "ridiculous", given the number of unknowns about its effects. She adds that two other drugs that also stimulate opioid cells, and could therefore also feasibly cause a gateway effect, are nicotine and alcohol. "If we turned back the clock with the knowledge we have now, these two drugs would never have been legalized," Hurd says.

The discovery also warns against complacency that cannabis does not have any lasting effect in young people who use the drug. "Lots of mothers say 'oh well, at least it's not cocaine'," Hurd says. "But this is not about the short-term effects. For adults to do it is one thing, but we have to consider the effects on children."

Visit our newsblog to read and post comments about this story.

 Top
References

  1. Ellgren M.,

    Spano S. M.&

    Hurd Y. L. . Neuropsychopharmacology, . - doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1301127



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: addiction; bobmarley; bong; cannabis; drugskilledbelushi; health; heroin; keithrichards; knowyourrightswrong; leroyindenial; medicine; munchies; smokedaholyherb; warondrugs; wod; wodlist; yamon
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"The receptor molecule to which THC binds is also found on brain cells in the opioid system, Hurd adds." That's new to me. It might explain results such as these.
1 posted on 07/07/2006 8:13:42 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

the bs meter went offscale


2 posted on 07/07/2006 8:16:00 PM PDT by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I looked in my rearview mirror.)
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To: BipolarBob
the bs meter went offscale

Why so? Marijuana seems to work for neuropathic pain. Check the link in comment# 1.

3 posted on 07/07/2006 8:20:45 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

Boy those Democrats really like their drugs. Oh, these are the other kind of rats...


4 posted on 07/07/2006 8:22:00 PM PDT by TheWasteLand
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To: neverdem

Oh no, now you done it.

Dopers Inbound.

Duck and Cover, People!

5 posted on 07/07/2006 8:23:39 PM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: neverdem

Rats taking cannabis get taste for heroin



Yeah, but only those rats who screwed up in high school and spent all their free time either hanging out at the all night convenience store or watching cartoon network...


6 posted on 07/07/2006 8:23:59 PM PDT by durasell (!)
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To: neverdem

Rats= Democrats?


7 posted on 07/07/2006 8:25:01 PM PDT by stephenjohnbanker (Taglines for sale or rent. Good "one liners", 50 cents.)
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To: USNBandit

Thanks for the early evening laugh :)


8 posted on 07/07/2006 8:25:37 PM PDT by ECM (Government is a make-work program for lawyers.)
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To: USNBandit

Thanks for that pic. It almost seems a more innocent time.


9 posted on 07/07/2006 8:26:30 PM PDT by durasell (!)
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
A Step Toward Clarity - Recent cloning headlines may herald the end of embryo name games.

Why a large hadron collider?

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

10 posted on 07/07/2006 8:28:34 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

File this article under the "DUH" heading.


11 posted on 07/07/2006 8:32:21 PM PDT by keithtoo (The GOP is fortunate that the Dim's are even more spineless and disorganized.)
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To: Slings and Arrows; martin_fierro

Don't forget to give em' some smack! And I heard they love shrooms and hash.


12 posted on 07/07/2006 8:33:06 PM PDT by Ultra Sonic 007 (Conservatives teach you how to fish. Liberals give you the fish by stealing it from the fisherman.)
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To: neverdem

Interesting.....


13 posted on 07/07/2006 8:33:52 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: neverdem

Did the rats start asking for heroin?


14 posted on 07/07/2006 8:36:29 PM PDT by streetpreacher (What if you're wrong?)
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To: neverdem
Sativex has a high concentrate of alcohol. Any result might be skewed by the presence of the alcohol to this study.
15 posted on 07/07/2006 8:38:45 PM PDT by bigfootbob
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To: streetpreacher

No, but pythons prefer rats on cannabis.


16 posted on 07/07/2006 8:48:01 PM PDT by Sundog (The real problem stems from people who don't know how to take real vacations.)
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To: neverdem
Over-stimulation of these receptors through exposure to cannabis may alter these cells so that the brain either feels intensely rewarded by subsequent heroin exposure, or needs an ever-increasing dose to feel the same pleasure — both of which could lead to addiction.

So any drug is a gateway to any other drug, including alcohol and tobacco.

She adds that two other drugs that also stimulate opioid cells, and could therefore also feasibly cause a gateway effect, are nicotine and alcohol. "If we turned back the clock with the knowledge we have now, these two drugs would never have been legalized," Hurd says.

"Gateway" or not, Prohibition was a ringing failure ... as is the war on drugs.

17 posted on 07/07/2006 8:53:15 PM PDT by Know your rights (The modern enlightened liberal doesn't care what you believe as long as you don't really believe it.)
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To: BipolarBob

BS is right. Alcohol and tobacco are gateway drugs.


18 posted on 07/07/2006 8:54:53 PM PDT by Clock King ("How will it end?" - Emperor; "In Fire." - Kosh)
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To: neverdem
So lab rats kept in captivity will take the opportunity to get high. That's not a real surprise, ya know.

"Well, I can sit here staring at this f*****g wheel until the next time they poke me stuff, or I can sit here staring at this f*****g wheel until the next time they poke me stuff and feel really good doing it."

19 posted on 07/07/2006 8:57:28 PM PDT by Wolfie
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To: neverdem

Watch out! Here come the liberaltarians!


20 posted on 07/07/2006 8:59:32 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: neverdem

Yeah? Give them bread on paper plates and the next thing you know, they're eating your bloody clothes! Marlon Perkins brought home kangaroo rats, and they escaped :(

Anyone got any pot or heroin I can borrow? Maybe they'll OD...


21 posted on 07/07/2006 9:02:17 PM PDT by TheSpottedOwl (If you don't understand the word "Illegal", then the public school system has failed you.)
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To: TheSpottedOwl
Anyone got any pot or heroin I can borrow? Maybe they'll OD...

People can't OD on pot (not sure about rats). Try alcohol instead.

22 posted on 07/07/2006 9:10:25 PM PDT by Know your rights (The modern enlightened liberal doesn't care what you believe as long as you don't really believe it.)
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To: Lancey Howard; neverdem
Watch out! Here come the "conservatives" who fear liberty but can't logically argue against it!
23 posted on 07/07/2006 9:12:14 PM PDT by Know your rights (The modern enlightened liberal doesn't care what you believe as long as you don't really believe it.)
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To: Know your rights

"Give me drugs or give me death"?


24 posted on 07/07/2006 9:15:23 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: neverdem

Lets see, a HUMAN gives a RAT pot!

A human then gives a RAT horse.

Hell a RAT will eat anything.

Why didnt they put CRANK in the cages instead of Horse?

Were they afraid of turning the rats into rednecks?


25 posted on 07/07/2006 9:15:38 PM PDT by funkywbr
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To: Know your rights
"If we turned back the clock with the knowledge we have now, these two drugs would never have been legalized," Hurd says.

I doubt that, at least about alcohol. Smarter governments figured out taxation schemes.

Dave Alexander, owner and operator of the Brickskeller in downtown Washington, D.C., argues that "beer is probably the reason for civilization."

26 posted on 07/07/2006 9:15:42 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: Lancey Howard
More like: Give me liberty, including the liberty to decide for myself whether or not to use drugs, or give me death.
27 posted on 07/07/2006 9:19:27 PM PDT by Know your rights (The modern enlightened liberal doesn't care what you believe as long as you don't really believe it.)
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To: neverdem
rats are more likely to get hooked on heroin if they have previously been given cannabis

How about Republicans?

28 posted on 07/07/2006 9:29:20 PM PDT by Mike Darancette (Make them go home!!)
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To: neverdem

Poor rats, now they are following the Fried Piper.


29 posted on 07/07/2006 9:38:21 PM PDT by Cedar
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To: ECM

This type of thread always devolves into a poop slinging contest, so I try to get in early with a little humor.


30 posted on 07/07/2006 9:49:35 PM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: neverdem
By the end, rats that'd had cannabis in their 'teens' were pressing the lever that delivered heroin about 1.5 times more than the rats that had previously been drug-free.

This article is hilarious. Shades of "Reefer Madness", which has been playing on Flix channel lately, btw.

It's clear that all the rats were pressing the lever to get some smack.

But, for every 7.5 times the hippie rats pressed the lever, the ivy-league rats pressed it 5 times. ;)

31 posted on 07/07/2006 9:52:53 PM PDT by Ol' Dan Tucker (Karen Ryan reporting...)
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To: Know your rights
More like: Give me liberty, including the liberty to decide for myself whether or not to use drugs, or give me death.

Move to Amsterdam where you can enjoy your liberty for a few more years before the Muslims take over.

32 posted on 07/07/2006 10:08:40 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: neverdem
Pothead rats like heroin, too? Well, shucks. By all means, let's kick in every door in the country and revoke the Bill of Rights to stop them.

The failed war on some drugs proponents have had lots of "studies" over the years. The first "studies" claimed pot made daughters want to engage in intercourse with jazz musicians. Did it have that effect on the rats, too?
33 posted on 07/07/2006 10:12:32 PM PDT by mysterio
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To: Lancey Howard
"Give me drugs or give me death"?

Give me nanny statism or give me emotion based slogans?
34 posted on 07/07/2006 10:14:56 PM PDT by mysterio
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To: Sundog
No, but pythons prefer rats on cannabis.

As long as they have a Big Grab bag of Cheetos to go with.

35 posted on 07/07/2006 10:26:39 PM PDT by stands2reason (ANAGRAM for the day: Socialist twaddle == Tact is disallowed)
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To: stands2reason

Do you ever look at stupidvideos.com?

Stupid fellow shows a python a rat, then pulls it away and puts his hand in the same place.

Next moment he has a set of fang marks across his palms.

Then the other guy says, "Yeah, that's what mine looks like too."

http://www.stupidvideos.com/video/animals/Big_Snake_Bite/

Cheers.


36 posted on 07/07/2006 10:39:04 PM PDT by Sundog (The real problem stems from people who don't know how to take real vacations.)
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To: bigfootbob
Sativex has a high concentrate of alcohol. Any result might be skewed by the presence of the alcohol to this study.

SATIVEX®contains approximately 50% v/v of ethanol. Each dose contains up to 0.04 g of ethanol. The median daily dose of 5 sprays would be up to 0.2 g ethanol.

v/v represents the volumes of active ingredients to the volume of solution, i.e. an abbreviation for "by volume," used in chemistry and pharmacology to describe the concentration of a substance in a mixture or solution. Thus 2% v/v means that the volume of the substance is 2% of the total volume of the solution or mixture. See also w/v.

According to New Zealand, "One standard drink equals 10 grams of pure alcohol," i.e. one regular can of beer has about 50 times the total daily average dose consumed with Sativex, depending on the actual ethanol content and volume. Give me a break.

37 posted on 07/08/2006 2:26:04 AM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: bigfootbob
Sativex has a high concentrate of alcohol. Any result might be skewed by the presence of the alcohol to this study.

The control group received it as well. Curiously the theory that THC acts on the same pathway as opium in the study supports the medical use of pot.

38 posted on 07/08/2006 2:42:04 AM PDT by Rightwing Conspiratr1
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To: neverdem

However, Pubs proved to be resistant.


39 posted on 07/08/2006 2:44:35 AM PDT by The Red Zone
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To: neverdem

Marijuana use has never made me want to try heroin, but reading this post has.

There you have it. Scientific proof that reading BS will make you want to try heroin.


40 posted on 07/08/2006 2:45:51 AM PDT by Reform4Bush
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To: Reform4Bush
Scientific proof that reading BS will make you want to try heroin.

Please elaborate. Did you read the whole thread?

41 posted on 07/08/2006 2:53:56 AM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

I read every comment.

Not much to elaborate on, unless you are looking for me to expand on the delivery method of the heroin I feel the need to use after reading this garbage article.


42 posted on 07/08/2006 3:34:03 AM PDT by Reform4Bush
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To: Know your rights

I was thinking of fly paper, but dammit...they're so cute. I'm just going to have to grab them by the tails and move them under a bush. They are starting to trust me...


43 posted on 07/08/2006 3:44:16 AM PDT by TheSpottedOwl (If you don't understand the word "Illegal", then the public school system has failed you.)
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To: Moonman62
More like: Give me liberty, including the liberty to decide for myself whether or not to use drugs, or give me death.

Move to Amsterdam

You move to anti-drug Sweden and enjoy the big government you crave ... I'll stick with the Land of the Free.

44 posted on 07/08/2006 6:31:41 AM PDT by Know your rights (The modern enlightened liberal doesn't care what you believe as long as you don't really believe it.)
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To: Know your rights

But according to your posts shouldn't I assume that the Land of the Free is also anti-drug? You remember the Drug War don't you?


45 posted on 07/08/2006 6:36:03 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: Moonman62
shouldn't I assume that the Land of the Free is also anti-drug?

Currently the Drug War stains this land's principles of liberty and limited government ... which is why I'm going to stay here and work to remove that stain.

46 posted on 07/08/2006 6:45:34 AM PDT by Know your rights (The modern enlightened liberal doesn't care what you believe as long as you don't really believe it.)
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To: neverdem
Here is my 2 penny's worth;

The role of liver tryptophan pyrrolase in the opposite effects of chronic administration and subsequent withdrawal of drugs of dependence on rat brain tryptophan metabolism.

A A Badawy, N F Punjani, and M Evans

1. Chronic administration of morphine, nicotine or phenobarbitone has previously been shown to inhibit rat liver tryptophan pyrrolase activity by increasing hepatic [NADPH], whereas subsequent withdrawal enhances pyrrolase activity by a hormonal-type mechanism. 2. It is now shown that this enhancement is associated with an increase in the concentration of serum corticosterone. 3. Chronic administration of the above drugs enhances, whereas subsequent withdrawal inhibits, brain 5-hydroxytryptamine synthesis. Under both conditions, tryptophan availability to the brain is altered in the appropriate direction. 4. The chronic drug-induced enhancement of brain tryptophan metabolism is reversed by phenazine methosulphate, whereas the withdrawal-induced inhibition is prevented by nicotinamide. 5. The chronic morphine-induced changes in liver [NADPH], pyrrolase activity, tryptophan availability to the brain and brain 5-hydroxytryptamine synthesis are all reversed by the opiate antagonist naloxone. 6. It is suggested that the opposite effects on brain tryptophan metabolism of chronic administration and subsequent withdrawal of the above drugs of dependence are mediated by the changes in liver tryptophan pyrrolase activity. 6. Similar conclusions based on similar findings have previously been made in relation to chronic administration and subsequent withdrawal of ethanol. These findings with all four drugs are briefly discussed in relation to previous work and the mechanism(s) of drug dependence.

FULL TEXT; http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=7197926
47 posted on 07/08/2006 8:44:28 AM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: Rightwing Conspiratr1; bigfootbob

Please see post #47


48 posted on 07/08/2006 8:55:10 AM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: oxcart

If an herb can be banned for being a gateway drug then porn
should be banned for causing rape because all rapists started
their deviation from the norm with it.


49 posted on 07/08/2006 9:04:48 AM PDT by PaxMacian (Gen 1:29)
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To: Know your rights
That's because there is nowhere to move. No functioning society has had unlimited liberty.

If you don't like Amsterdam try Vancouver. I've heard it's beautiful. I've also heard that the area where people have the liberty to do drugs isn't so nice.

50 posted on 07/08/2006 9:17:54 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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