Argentina Allows Cannabis Self-Cultivation

With 2017 legislation, Argentina joined the growing number of South American countries to relax cannabis laws. At the end of 2020, that legislation was expanded, and now finally, Argentina allows cannabis self-cultivation for medical use.

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Cannabis in Argentina

Cannabis is not legal for recreational use in Argentina, but small amounts of it were decriminalized back in 2009. In the Arriola decision, which was the result of a court case arising from the arrest of five men, the court determined that small amounts of drugs meant for personal use, that won’t affect or cause harm to anyone else, and which pose no threat of danger, are decriminalized. There is no official amount set for personal use, meaning law enforcement and judges must use their own discretion per case.

Much like Mexico and South Africa, which each have constitutional rulings related to cannabis and the right of an individual to live life as they see fit without intrusion from the government, Argentina’s court ruled that “Each adult is free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of the state.” The decision was also meant to encourage law enforcement money to be spent on bigger cases, while leaving small-time users to enter treatment programs instead.

Cannabis trafficking is illegal in Argentina and can incur a penalty of 4-15 years in prison. It’s illegal for residents to grow marijuana for commercial purposes.

Medical bill 2017

cannabis medicine

On the 29th of March, 2017, Argentina’s senate approved legislation for the legalization of medical cannabis. The bill requires those in need of cannabis medications to register with the country’s national program, which is overseen by the Ministry of Health. Not only that, the government actually set it up to provide free access of these medications to patients and children approved for their use.

The reason it’s free is because the medical ‘program’ was set up under the bill as a research initiative called the National Program for the Study and Research of the Medicinal Use of the Cannabis Plant and its By-products and Non-conventional Treatments. By law, patients have to be enrolled in the program, and the program allows for medical cannabis oil to be provided to patients free of charge. This law did not technically institute a structured market, leaving the only way to access these medications through the government run program.

Besides starting government run cultivation, the law did something else. It instituted the Cannabis Exceptional Access Regime which allows the import of medications with cannabis by-products into the country for verified patients with epilepsy. This provision, as it was written in 2017, does not cover other disorders that can be treated with cannabis medicines. Only licensed physicians, specifically neurology specialists, are able to make such requests on behalf of their patients under this provision.

Argentina now allows cannabis self-cultivation

When the bill was passed in 2017, cultivation carried a sentence of up to two years. While it was pushed for this bill to include a provision for self-cultivation, Argentinian legislators did not include it in the bill, restricting the ability for sick people to grow their own marijuana. By many, including activist group Mama Cultiva – which helped lead the way for this legalization, this was a major failing in an otherwise big step in the right direction.

In early November 2020, a decree was published in the Official Gazette making the statement that Argentina now allows cannabis self-cultivation for medical purposes. The government legalized personal cultivation, along with legalizing the sale of cannabis products (creams and oils) in pharmacies. The decree was signed by President Alberto Fernández, and states that there should be “timely, safe, inclusive and protective access for those who need to use cannabis as a therapeutic tool.” He added that a regulatory framework must be set up quickly to do so. Though the decree made the statement that Argentina now allows cannabis self-cultivation, it did not detail how many plants an individual could grow, stating that this information would be announced later.

Argentina allows cannabis self-cultivation

Patients, or groups, who want to access products in pharmacies, or cultivate cannabis plants, must still be registered with the ‘National Cannabis Programme’, through Reprocann – the Registry for the Cannabis Program, which was originally instituted by the 2017 legislation, but which was never actually operational due to a lack of regulation to govern it. When patients register, they can choose to cultivate their own marijuana, buy from a solidary grower, or obtain products through a pharmacy.

It’s good to remind here that simply passing a bill, or signing a decree, does not institute a regulated market. This decree updated the bill passed in 2017, but didn’t do more to offer a regulatory framework, which means in order for these things to happen, more laws have to be passed to provide details for actual usage. Even so, it’s nice to have the law on the books.

This new decree also expands the ability to import cannabis medicines. Whereas the Cannabis Exceptional Access Regime only applied to epilepsy patients when the 2017 bill was passed, this has now been expanded to include other ailments like fibromyalgia, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and other diseases and disorders that have shown to be helped by cannabis medicines. The government will continue to promote production of cannabis for medical treatments, and, in the same spirit as giving it out to patients for free, will guarantee availability of medications, even to patients who do not have standard health coverage.

According to Prohibition Partners (via Forbes), apart from helping sick people get the medicine they need, and expanding laws so that Argentina now allows cannabis self-cultivation, the cannabis market in Argentina could be worth as much as $40 million in sales by 2024. An increase in revenue has been a strong reason for legalization in other locations, and very likely was an even more powerful motivator than a group of mothers with sick children.

Mama Cultiva and the activists

Argentina is home to a group of influential activists known as Mama Cultiva. As the name implies, this group was started as a group of mothers trying to get medicine for their sick children. Mama Cultiva is an NGO that was originally founded in Chile in 2016, and has been working towards cannabis legalization since that time, both in fighting for new legislation, and providing educational information about cannabis.

Mama Cultiva was a strong force behind the 2017 legalization, and at the time was quite dismayed that cultivation was not given the green light. In light of this new legislation, Mama Cultiva’s Argentina chapter head Valeria Salech said “We’ve been fighting for this for three years… We’re no longer going to be criminalized for seeking a better quality of life for ourselves and our loved ones.”

She explained in a separate statement, “It’s not a law on usage. It doesn’t regulate cannabis. It’s a research law, and the fact that we can insert a mini-regulation in that research law for those of us who grow (the plant) for our health is a big deal.” Mama Cultiva is not just fighting for medical usage, but full recreational legalization, as the organization views it as important for mental health in general.

cannabis activists

To give an example of the level of dedication of Mama Cultiva, and why they are so committed, consider that the woman who made these statements, Valeria Salech, has a now 14-year-old son with both epilepsy and autism, who has been using cannabis treatments for six years.

This desire for greater legalization is echoed by the Argentine Cannabis Confederation, a group of pro-legalization product producers that are involved with the production of things like cannabis infused beer, and marijuana growing supplies. This group, which was upset by not being involved in the debates to determine draft legislation, thinks that the current law still doesn’t reach far enough.

Group president Leandro Ayala reminded “We don’t know what’s going to happen with low-level possession, which is what’s hurting us at the moment, the fact that we can be arrested for carrying two marijuana cigarettes.” He did say that he believes the cannabis industry could benefit from self-cultivation, especially in the form of supplying to these home-growers, but was still concerned overall about the issue of minor possession still being illegal.

He went on to point out that cannabis use shouldn’t have to be associated with sickness, and stated about the recent update in laws: “I don’t celebrate that because you’re only going to be able to grow if you’re sick, and in my case I don’t feel like a sick person. I use (cannabis) recreationally. Why do I have to use the shield of saying I have a pathology in order to grow when that’s not true?”

Conclusion

In a way, Argentina just tripped over its own toes, but not in the worst manner. Before even fully setting its 2017 legislative measures into workable motion, Argentina went ahead and updated them. That Argentina now allows cannabis self-cultivation is great. Going at this rate of updating that which hasn’t even been fully instituted, I can only imagine that a recreational legalization really isn’t too far off in the distance.

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German Cannabis Flower Market is Ready to Explode

Germany has the largest legal medicinal cannabis flower market in the EU, and it’s about to expand out even further. With imports coming from Canada and even Uruguay, the German cannabis flower market is, indeed, ready to fully explode.

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Germany has been growing its medical cannabis market in the last few years. According to worldstopexports for 2019, Germany imported $240 million worth of cannabis oil – or 7.8% of all cannabis imports for the year, making it the second largest importer behind the US. In that same time period, it also exported $230 million worth of cannabis oil – or 8% of the market for the year.

Now, the emphasis is more on cannabis flowers, and Germany sure isn’t slowing down. In July, Germany released data on medical cannabis imports for Q1 and Q2 of 2020. Q1 showed an increase of 16%, while Q2 showed an increase of 32%. It should be remembered that Q2 of 2020 was when the coronavirus was at its worst, and lockdown measures were strictest.

Prior to this year, Germany imported approximately 3.1 tons of cannabis flower in 2018, and 6.7 tons in 2019. During this time, Germany requested additional imported cannabis from the Netherlands to help with supply shortages it was experiencing. The increase this year in imports is related to the rise in new patients in Germany, as well as the addition of new cannabis exporting countries. Approximately 60,000 Germans are registered to use medical cannabis as of June 2019. That number has likely risen substantially since that time.

A little about Germany and cannabis

german cannabis flower market

Possession of cannabis is still illegal in Germany, despite the growth of its medicinal market.  German law does allow for residents to have a ‘small amount’ of cannabis, but this amount is not consistent and can vary between 6-15 grams depending on location. Sale and supply crimes are predicably illegal, with prison sentences of five years or below for more standard cases, or up to 15 for more severe cases. Personal growing of cannabis is also illegal.

On the other hand, medicinal cannabis was legalized in 2017 in Germany, and since that time Germany’s medical cannabis market has become the largest cannabis market in Europe. Up until 2019, supply for this market came strictly from abroad as Germany was not cultivating its own cannabis. Now Germany is working to supply its own market, but still requires imports, en masse, from other countries.

New market for imports

Up until recently, the only suppliers of cannabis to Germany were the Netherlands and Canada. However, Germany didn’t want to be beholden to such a small number of suppliers, and (BfArM), the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, authorized Germany to receive imports of cannabis flowers from other countries like Spain, Portugal, and Denmark. In fact, Germany now works with at least 30 cultivators, which has greatly improved Germany’s supply situation, and greatly increased the German cannabis flower market.

Germany isn’t just looking to European countries and Canada for supply though. In late 2019, Portugal received an initial shipment of 1,000 kg of cannabis flowers (high-THC). The shipment was very secretive in that the final destination for the product, and the buyer, were kept private, while the shipment itself was actually done legally. According to the customs documentation, the exporter was licensed producer Fotmer Life Sciences, and the deal was for $3.2 million including all related costs. The final destination didn’t seem to be Portugal though.

As it turns out, more recent news has pointed to Germany being the final buyer. Apparently, Tilray, a Canadian-based producer which now operates in many countries, started offering Germany high-THC flowers as of September 30th of this year. Tilray’s director of government and public affairs in Europe, confirmed to Marijuana Business Daily that the shipment was indeed grown by a 3rd party in Uruguay, that it was imported through Portugal via Tilray’s subsidiary in that country, processed there, and then shipped to Germany.

importing cannabis

Part of what makes this story interesting is that the supplier – Fotmer Life Sciences, is not EU-GMP certified, meaning it is possible to import non-EU-GMP certified products to Germany through the right avenues. In this case, processing through an EU-GMP certified facility in Portugal made it possible to pass onto Germany. It also makes it look like Germany will go to some interesting lengths to import more flower (maybe particularly high-THC), and that it’s willing to bend the rules to do so.

Who are some of the big players?

Right now, Canada is home to the biggest companies to export to Germany, or run facilities under subsidiary names there. Tilray is a big one, with name value the world over. It operates in Germany along with Canadian-based Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, Maricann, Northern Green Canada, and Cronos Group.

One of the newer companies to join the Canadian satellite cannabis team is Aphria, which claimed to make its first shipment of dry flowers to its subsidiary in Germany, CC Pharma GmbH, earlier this month.

Clearly Canada has a good hold on Germany, but imports do, indeed, come from the Netherlands, Uruguay – apparently via Portugal, and Spain, through Spanish producer Linneo, which provides cannabis flowers to Germany as well as Israel and the UK, though under different names. Medical cannabis producers in other countries are also trying to get in on the German cannabis flower market. Producers in countries like Colombia, Australia, Lesotho, Malta, Greece, and Denmark are also looking to get their products into Germany. How much money these companies can make in the future, might create a challenge though.

What about wholesale pricing in Germany?

So, how much does cannabis cost in Germany wholesale? In November of 2019, the German Federal Government agreed to buy no less than 650kg of medical grade cannabis flowers from local cultivators at the price point of €1.5 million per quarter of product. This, in turn, sets a standard for average wholesale pricing at €2.3 per gram. This low price is an indication that medical cannabis companies probably won’t be able to attain the high margins that such companies have been seeing, prior to this designation being made. It also means that theoretically, prices should be kept low for German citizens.

To give an idea of the difference… retail prices for medical marijuana in Germany are as high as €20/gram right now. This is mainly due to a mandated 100% markup by pharmacies, not enough global suppliers that meet EU-GMP standards, and a domestic cultivation license that was only finalized after many delays. The new price point, along with bringing in new exporters, is important in bringing this price down.

price of cannabis

Who will grow domestically?

Three different companies were picked to locally cultivate this cannabis for the government. Aurora Produktions GmbH – a subsidiary of Aurora Cannabis, Aphria Deutschland GmbH – a subsidiary of Aphria, and local Germany-based Demecan GmbH.

Pricing in medicinal markets is generally much lower than recreational markets where larger taxes are added on. But it does beg the question of how enticing the market will be for domestic growers (and importers), if they can’t inflate their costs to bring in more money.

The three companies that won the contracts to grow for the government will provide packaged cannabis flowers to BfArM. The German government has indicated that it will institute an application process for distribution in the future. What this means is that domestic growers and producers won’t be able to actually sell directly to pharmacies, even with established distribution channels. They will instead require a distribution license.

Weirdly, this just slows down domestic products hitting pharmacy shelves, and promotes Germany importing more. The German cannabis flower market, in fact, is expected to continue relying on imports to cover demand, which makes the aforementioned license for distribution for local cultivators…a little strange. Almost like Germany would prefer to import.

Conclusion

Germany’s medicinal cannabis market, and specifically the German cannabis flower market, is getting bigger every day with tons of countries vying to get their products through German borders and onto pharmacy shelves. Germany wants to import so badly, that it even seems to be going through semi-sketchy means, sending non-EU-GMP certified product through other EU countries in order to access more flowers!

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How To Battle Animal & Mold Infestations in Outdoor Cannabis Grows

All outdoor marijuana crops have the potential to be destroyed by one or two of the various problems lurking in the wilderness, unlike indoor growing where plants are protected. In checking on the crop, make sure to keep an eye on the little details that will spell trouble later. There are a few different things to look for:

Aphids

An aphid infestation is a hard infestation to get rid of. For most of us, using chemical insecticide is the no-brainer solution, and they’re right. Aphids are very hard to kill. Chemicals can be used if the plant is still in the green foliage growth stage. If the scheduled harvest is just 2 or 3 weeks away, don’t use chemical insecticides, as the chemicals will still be present in the finished product. No one wants to risk the dangerous side effects of smoking chemicals.

The natural way to get rid of an aphid infestation on a marijuana plant involves a few steps and a bit of work. Go out and buy a few geraniums. Geraniums exude hormones that pests don’t like. Make a few palm sized cloth bags full of the geranium leaves and hang them on each plant. The hormones the geraniums exude will keep the aphids away. Now the aphid eggs left behind have to be dealt with.

Find a good thick soft cloth and some antibacterial / insecticide soap. The aphid’s eggs will be found mostly on the underside of the leaves of the plant. Using some care, just run the soapy cloth under each leaf, just once. You don’t want to scrub the leaves; just one pass over them will do if the cloth is good and soapy. You’ll feel a slight tug on the washcloth with every aphid egg that you’re displacing.

Depending on the degree of infestation, if you’re using a growing medium such as a peat and perlite mixture, the top coat might have to be replaced. The peat and perlite growing medium gives the aphids many crooks and crevasses to lay eggs in. Dig out the first inch or two and replace it with pH balanced peat and perlite mixture. Be sure to be careful around the roots and everything will be okay.

Since antibacterial / insecticide soap was used, be sure to mist the underside of the leaves for about a week to remove any traces of the chemicals in question. If there are buds present, try not to spray the pH balanced water on them. A happy nug is a dry nug.

Molds & Fungus

Since every grow operation requires standing water of some kind, one must at all times be vigilant when it comes to mold and fungal infestations. They both like to grow in standing water or on surfaces that are wet most of the time. Both molds and fungus can be made of some very nasty substances that can harm humans. If you suspect an infestation of mold or fungus, wear rubber gloves while checking things out.

The first sign of mold or fungus is the smell. It’s hard to not take a good sniff of each plant, as most stoners enjoy the scent of a marijuana plant. If you smell a damp and rotted scent while sniffing, you’ve got a problem. It might be time to break out the chemicals.

The first place to look for mold is on the part of the main stem that sticks out from the roots. Check to see if there is a slimy residue on it. If there is, then it’s time for the chemicals to come out. There is just no way around spraying the stalk with fungicide if it is moldy. This is because the base of the stem is where the plant supports itself and is the first part of the plant that allows the nutrients from the root to spread within the rest of the plant.

There might be the urge to wipe the now dead mold off of the stem. Try not to, because the mold might have punctured the stem all the way to the hollow core of the plant. Wiping away the dead mold will also wipe away the stem if it is dead. This will cause a stop in growth and possibly the loss of the plant as a whole. Leaving the stalk and the dead mold intact will keep the stem sealed – exposing the hollow inner core is a death sentence for the plant.

Marijuana is a very hearty and strong plant. It can live through some pretty major damage. While a mold and fungus infection may kill other plants, if the procedures outlined here are adhered to, the plant will live to maturity. It may have smaller buds than those plants without an infection, but it will still be greedily harvested once the buds have matured.

Mammals & Rodents

Animals love to nibble on marijuana. Whether it’s just the smell or taste or if they know that they can get high is unknown. The culprit most of the time is deer, as the first sign of having a foraging visitor nipping your buds will show on the top of the plant.

The only way to stop this foraging is to push a light mesh cover over your plants or to hang geranium bags on your plants. Animals hate the scent of geraniums, so they stay away from your plants. Another scent-based solution is mothballs. Most animals will shy away from mothballs, as the scent isn’t comparable to anything they eat in the wild.

In growing in the wild, there are bound to be a few deaths in the crop. Whether this is due to male culling or animals or mold or fungus, plant a few extra plants to make up for the future losses and the crop will turn out fine.

How do you combat pests? Tell us your grow tips below.

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Growing Exposed Wants to Help You Cultivate Great Cannabis

Gone are the Reefer Madness days of cannabis prohibition and fearmongering, replaced instead with a more positive public who enjoy their weed and support legalization. This change brings a new wave of curious enthusiasts all looking to increase their cannabis cultivation skills to grow their own plants via educational and entertaining online videos. Enter Growing Exposed, the YouTube channel for all fans — from veterans to newcomers.

The original garden tour series focuses on the entire cannabis cultivation sector. Each unique episode opens up the once underground world of weed, revealing industry insights and an unrestricted view inside the world of cannabis.

Growing Exposed is the brainchild of Jeremy Deichen, an experienced content creator working under the digital marketing company LG Digital Inc. In addition to producing the series, LG Digital Inc has found a niche in the cannabis sector, creating content and branding projects for several other companies within the cannabis industry such as Method Seven, Green Planet Nutrients and Sugarleaf to name a few.  

Deichen produced hundreds of videos about products within the industry before launching Growing Exposed, but he knew there was something missing. Sometime in early 2015, however, Deichen had what he called a “light bulb moment.”

“I had created hundreds of videos where someone is standing at a trade show explaining the pros and cons of a product. And when I uploaded them, no one gave a shit,” Deichen told Cannabis Now. “There was certainly cannabis content on YouTube, but nothing with high production value. Plus, I was seeing a lot of conflicting information coming from people in their basements versus what I knew was going on in the sector.”

Deichen knew the industry needed a voice, so he began going behind the scenes, touring facilities, speaking directly to the growers and documenting history.

“I created a video from the growers’ perspective talking about the same pros and cons and it got 20k views within a few months. I knew I couldn’t waste my time making the other style.”

Since its, the video has racked up over 80,000 subscribers and 6.5 million views.

“We know we have a great media platform to promote a product or service for a brand, but our purpose goes beyond marketing,” said Deichen. “We’re documenting the history of our industry, and we know this plant is helping people and making this a better world to live in.”

Growing Exposed creator Jeremy Deichen

About Growing Exposed

Hosted by former MTV Canada and Spike TV personality Amanda McKay, Growing Exposed features a segment with David Robinson, an experienced cannabis cultivation expert and author of The Grower’s Handbook, to pass along cultivation knowledge to viewers. Each week, garden tour guide Justin Cooper heads out on another adventure, from touring some of the most unique cannabis farms in the country and gleaning invaluable growing tips straight from the most experienced cultivators.

But it’s not all farm tours and big buds. Growing Exposed also lets you experience first-hand some of the most innovative and iconic industry events in cannabis culture, like Spannabis in Spain or the High Times cups. The team’s access-all-areas gives you exclusive sneak peeks into the newest trends and helpful product reviews so you can be sure you’re on track to producing your own mouth-watering cannabis. Plus, the show’s website has become a hub for cannabis growers.

“Our website continues to be a great educational tool as it delivers high-quality content,” said Deichen. “We have recently added two new categories: a strain library where you can browse and learn about trending cannabis varieties and Cannabis MD, a tool that diagnoses plant problems and recommends solutions.”

Growing Exposed is the perfect resource for people interested in learning more about some of the largest North American growing operations around, the people behind them and what makes them tick.

Season three has just launched, so head to the Growing Exposed channel to catch up on all the latest episodes and previous seasons.

TELL US, have you tuned in to Growing Exposed?

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Are Current Cannabis Strain Names Tenable For The Future?

With cannabis legalization taking hold across North America, as well as other parts of the world, some people are having issues discerning between different cannabis strains, and many think the wacky strain names are to blame.

While some people say Kosher Kush is the best, other’s swear by Gelato and Dancehall. No, we aren’t talking about ice cream or dance clubs; we’re talking about cannabis. Many people who visited Amsterdam over the past 30 years would have heard of such wacky names attached to various cannabis strains from different parts of the world.

It all started as a bit of a marketing ploy to give stains names that would be appealing to consumers. Fast forward a few decades and many old school cannabis names are still around. But now there are hundreds more. The wacky names might sound neat, but they’re causing a bunch of confusion among consumers and cultivators alike.

Let’s start with the fact that different types of cannabis shouldn’t be called strains at all. More accurately, various cannabis varieties, breeds, and types should technically be called “Cultivars,” according to Autumn Karcey, CEO of Cultivo, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in pharmaceutical grade agricultural products.

“In botanical nomenclature in the cannabis industry, the correct terminology is ‘cultivar,’ which more accurately describes a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by a selective breeding process,” she said, according to a Forbes report.

cultivars

Many cultivators don’t even know what ‘strain’ they’re growing

The issues occur when cultivators don’t really know what they’re growing, and consumers are more or less clueless about what they’re buying. David Hodes, managing editor of Cannabis Science and Technology, spoke about this very subject at the Cannabis Science Conference recently. He explained that cannabis culture in the U.S. evolved faster than science.

This means that cultivators over the decades have been left to their own devices when it comes to naming cannabis that they grow. Cultivators grow cannabis, and new strains are developed and tweaked. But the location of where the strain originated is not given in the name, as well as a bunch of other information that is of value to more advanced cannabis enthusiasts.

One example of the issues cannabis strain names can lead to is the situation with Durban Poison. This was originally a pure Sativa from South Africa, which was thought to have rare appetite suppressing qualities. As Reggie Gaudino, president, director of R&D, and director of Intellectual Property at Steep Hill Labs, Inc. explained according to the same report, “It (Durban Poison) was brought into the United States and bred with Super Silver Haze, but all the offspring were called Durban Poison, yet only a portion of the offspring actually produced THCVA,” he said.

“Today, it’s hard to find Durban Poison in the USA that actually makes THCVA. So, the issue is the lack of science behind the naming, not the science itself, which already has established some lineage and some ancestral relationship.”

What needs to happen now is for detailed genetic mapping to be carried out on all known cannabis strains around the world. That information then needs to be entered into a global database so that consumers know exactly what they’re getting when they purchase cannabis.

As Joshua Crossney, CEO of CSC Events explained, “Chemotyping, or accurately determining the identity of a cannabis strain using chemical fingerprinting rather than genomics, will be the next hot growth area,” he said. “I would be remiss if I did not add that the future may not be in ‘King Cultivars’ but in custom, full-spectrum cannabinoid and terpene blends created from many different cultivars.”

“This may ultimately be ‘what is west of Westeros.’”

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