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CN NS: Editorial: Time To Get Ready

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 07:00
Truro Daily News, 24 May 2017 - If all goes according to plan, Canada's new marijuana law will take effect in July 2018. It's what happens between now and then that is critical, especially when it comes to safeguarding young Canadians who are the most vulnerable to the potential harms of marijuana use.
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CN ON: Do You Know What Your Kids Are Vaping?

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 07:00
Sudbury Star, 24 May 2017 - High school students in North Bay are vaping marijuana juice and crushed Oxycontin before and during school. The startling news came in March when Almaguin Highlands Secondary School principal Donna Breault made a presentation to the Near North District School Board about vaping and its dangers.
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Vermont Governor Vetoes Marijuana Legalization -- For Now [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 04:10

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) today vetoed a marijuana legalization bill, ending for now an effort that would have seen the state become the first to legalize pot through the legislative process.

[image:1 align:left]But Scott left open a "path forward" for passing the bill later this year, saying that if a handful of changes were made in the bill, he could support it. He said he thought the legislature still has time to incorporate them and pass a revised bill during this summer's veto session.

"We are disappointed by the governor's decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor's offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session," said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Most Vermonters want to end marijuana prohibition, and it is critical that the legislature respond by passing a revised legalization bill this summer. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and there is no good reason to continue treating responsible adult consumers like criminals," he said.

Marijuana is legal in eight states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington -- and the District of Columbia, but all of them legalized it via initiatives. Four states and DC did it in 2012 and four more last year.

Senate Bill 22 would have allowed people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce and four immature or two mature plants, effective July 1, 2018. But unlike the legal pot states, it did not include a provision for taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. Instead it called for a legislative commission to study whether and how to put such a system in place, making it more akin to the DC law, which allows personal possession and cultivation, but not legal sales, than to the tax and regulate states.

"Despite the veto, this is a huge leap forward," said Simon. "The passage of S. 22 demonstrates most members of both legislative chambers are ready to move forward with making marijuana legal for adults. Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor's concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects."

Although marijuana legalization has strong support in the state -- it polled 55% in a February poll and 57% in a March poll -- getting a bill through the legislature very nearly did not happen. While the Senate wanted a bill that would include taxing and regulating legal marijuana sales, the measure passed by the House, House Bill 170, only allowed for personal possession and cultivation. It took last-minute maneuvering in the Senate to arrive at an acceptable compromise, incorporating HB 170 into the Senate bill and replacing the latter's tax and regulate provisions with the commission to study how to do it. After that, it took a final vote in the House Judiciary Committee to win passage.

But with the stroke of Scott's veto pen, all that work has come to naught -- at least for now.

Efforts to legalize marijuana via the legislature have made real progress in several states this year, coming very close in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and advancing in other states, including Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, and New Jersey, but no other state has gotten over the final hurdle yet and its unlikely any others will this year.

Those efforts at various state houses will continue next year, and 2018 will also likely see more marijuana legalization initiatives on state ballots. Campaigns are already underway in Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan, and North and South Dakota.

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Vermont Governor Vetoes Marijuana Legalization -- For Now [FEATURE]

Top Stories (STDW) - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 04:10

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) today vetoed a marijuana legalization bill, ending for now an effort that would have seen the state become the first to legalize pot through the legislative process.

[image:1 align:left]But Scott left open a "path forward" for passing the bill later this year, saying that if a handful of changes were made in the bill, he could support it. He said he thought the legislature still has time to incorporate them and pass a revised bill during this summer's veto session.

"We are disappointed by the governor's decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor's offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session," said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Most Vermonters want to end marijuana prohibition, and it is critical that the legislature respond by passing a revised legalization bill this summer. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and there is no good reason to continue treating responsible adult consumers like criminals," he said.

Marijuana is legal in eight states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington -- and the District of Columbia, but all of them legalized it via initiatives. Four states and DC did it in 2012 and four more last year.

Senate Bill 22 would have allowed people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce and four immature or two mature plants, effective July 1, 2018. But unlike the legal pot states, it did not include a provision for taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. Instead it called for a legislative commission to study whether and how to put such a system in place, making it more akin to the DC law, which allows personal possession and cultivation, but not legal sales, than to the tax and regulate states.

"Despite the veto, this is a huge leap forward," said Simon. "The passage of S. 22 demonstrates most members of both legislative chambers are ready to move forward with making marijuana legal for adults. Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor's concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects."

Although marijuana legalization has strong support in the state -- it polled 55% in a February poll and 57% in a March poll -- getting a bill through the legislature very nearly did not happen. While the Senate wanted a bill that would include taxing and regulating legal marijuana sales, the measure passed by the House, House Bill 170, only allowed for personal possession and cultivation. It took last-minute maneuvering in the Senate to arrive at an acceptable compromise, incorporating HB 170 into the Senate bill and replacing the latter's tax and regulate provisions with the commission to study how to do it. After that, it took a final vote in the House Judiciary Committee to win passage.

But with the stroke of Scott's veto pen, all that work has come to naught -- at least for now.

Efforts to legalize marijuana via the legislature have made real progress in several states this year, coming very close in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and advancing in other states, including Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, and New Jersey, but no other state has gotten over the final hurdle yet and its unlikely any others will this year.

Those efforts at various state houses will continue next year, and 2018 will also likely see more marijuana legalization initiatives on state ballots. Campaigns are already underway in Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan, and North and South Dakota.

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Chronicle AM: VT Gov Will Act on Legalization, Trump Retreats from ONDCP Defunding, More... (5/23/17)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 20:46

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott says he will act on marijuana legalization tomorrow, the Trump budget reverses earlier plans to radically defund the drug czar's office, a new Michigan poll has good news for activists, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Michigan Poll Has Strong Majority for Legalization. A new poll from the Marketing Resource Group has support for marijuana legalization at 58%, if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol. The strongest support came from Democrats and people under 40. The poll comes as the Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is beginning a signature gathering campaign to put its legalization initiative on the November 2018 ballot. "While attitudes toward marijuana may be mellowing, most Republican voters and those 65 and older still are not ready to legalize it," said Tom Shields, president of MRG. "Support for legalizing recreational use of marijuana has grown from 41 percent in 2013 to 58 percent in just the last four years. I would not be surprised to see a successful ballot proposal within the next few years."

Vermont Governor to Act on Legalization Bill Tomorrow. Gov. Phil Scott (R) said Tuesday he would either sign or veto Senate Bill 22 on Wednesday, the last possible day for him to act. Under state law, the bill could become law if Scott fails to act, but Scott said he would not let that happen and would either veto or sign the bill. If he signs it, Vermont becomes the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislative process.

Hemp

Arizona Governor Vetoes Hemp Bill. Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed an industrial hemp bill on Monday. Ducey said he vetoed Senate Bill 1337 because it did not provide funding for the state Agriculture Department to administer the program.

Drug Policy

Trump Backs Away From De-Funding the Drug Czar's Office. President Trump has reversed a proposal to cut 95% of the funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office). In his budget proposal released Tuesday, ONDCP funding is still reduced, but only by 3%, in line with other non-defense-related spending cuts.

Harm Reduction

San Francisco Supervised Injection Site Task Force Launched. A 15-member task force charged with developing a report to the Board of Supervisors on the feasibility and potential costs and benefits of a supervised drug consumption site got to work on Monday. The task force will meet three times over the next three months before issuing its report. The city has bout 22,000 injection drug users and a hundred overdose deaths a year, mostly from heroin and opioids.

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CN ON: Hempfest Burns Out

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 07:00
The Daily Press, 23 May 2017 - Organizer cancelling event due to lack of sponsorship and declining health The organizer behind Northern Ontario's longest running hemp festival is pulling the plug. Robert Neron, a Moonbeam resident and long-time activist in support of freer access to medical marijuana, made the announcement through a posting on social media on Sunday.
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CN ON: 'Parents Would Be Shocked'

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 07:00
North Bay Nugget, 23 May 2017 - Students vaping marijuana juice, crushed Oxycontin, says principal High school students are vaping marijuana juice and crushed Oxycontin before and during school. The startling news came in March when Almaguin Highlands Secondary School principal Donna Breault made a presentation to the Near North District School Board about vaping and its dangers.
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Chronicle AM: Afghan Opium is Booming, American Legion Wants MedMJ Research, More... (5/22/17)

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 20:56

We're starting to see 2018 marijuana legalization initiative action getting underway, an Ohio Supreme Court justice calls for freeing the weed, the American Legion wants the feds to get out of the way of medical marijuana research, Afghanistan has a bumper opium crop, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Arkansas Attorney General Sends Marijuana Legalization Initiaitve Back to Be Reworked. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) has rejected a proposed marijuana legalization initiative from Larry Morris of West Fork, saying that it is "ambiguous" and nearly identical to a later proposal from Mary Berry of Summit. Rutledge suggested that Morris and Berry work together.

Minnesota Lawmaker Files Bill for Legalization Constitutional Amendment. State Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) introduced House File 2714 on Saturday. The bill proposes a constitutional amendment to allow people 21 and over to buy and grow marijuana for personal use. The bill was filed with just a couple of days left in the session, and Liebling doesn't expect it to pass this year, but "it's time to get the conversation going," she said. Liebling is also seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination next year, and marijuana legalization is one of her campaign planks.

Nevada Marijuana Edibles Regulation Bill Advances. The Assembly Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 344 last Friday. The bill has already passed the Senate. It would require edibles to be sold in single servings in nondescript packaging and be child-proofed. The legislature is rushing to get the bill passed before retail marijuana sales are set to begin on July 1.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Calls for Marijuana Legalization. Justice William O'Neill, the only Democrat to hold statewide office in the state, says it is time for the Ohio to legalize marijuana. The potential gubernatorial contender said in a speech that he not only wants to free the weed, but also to free nonviolent marijuana offenders from prison. "The time has come for new thinking," O'Neill said in his prepared remarks. "We regulate and tax alcohol and tobacco and imprison people for smoking grass."

South Dakota Legalization Initiative Signature Gathering Gets Underway. Supporters of a marijuana legalization initiative began signature gathering over the weekend after the attorney general's office okayed petitions for circulation. This initiative would legalize the possession of any quantity of marijuana by adults. Organizers have until November 6 to come up with approximately 14,000 valid voter signatures.

Medical Marijuana

American Legion Asks Trump to Allow Research for Vets. In a recent letter to the White House, the conservative veterans' group asked for a meeting with Trump son-in-law and key advisor Jared Kushner, "as we seek support from the president to clear the way for clinical research in the cutting edge areas of cannabinoid receptor research," the letter said. "We are not asking for it to be legalized," said Louis Celli, the national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation for the American Legion. "There is overwhelming evidence that it has been beneficial for some vets. The difference is that it is not founded in federal research because it has been illegal."

Utah Republicans Reject Resolution Supporting Medical Marijuana. At its annual convention over the weekend, the Utah Republican Party overwhelmingly rejected a resolution in support of medical marijuana, defeating it by a margin of 70% to 29%. The Republican-controlled legislature has refused to enact a full-fledged medical marijuana law, and now the state GOP has made it clear it intends to stick to its guns. Advocates could undertake an initiative campaign next year in the face of legislative indifference or hostility.

International

Bermuda House Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill. The House of Assembly has approved an opposition bill that would decriminalize up to a quarter-ounce (7 grams) of marijuana. The bill still needs approval by the Senate and the governor's signature. If that happens, it will go into effect on June 30.

UN Says Afghanistan Opium Cultivation Up 10%. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that illicit opium poppy plantings had increased by 10% last year, with potential opium production up 43%, to 4,800 metric tons. UNODC estimated that opiates accounted for 16% of the country's GDP and more than two-thirds of the agricultural sector. Opium production also provided labor for 235,100 full-time workers and accounted for more than half of the family income of poppy growers. The illicit economy is fueling insecurity, violence and insurgency among other problems to discourage private and public investment in Afghanistan, UNODC said.

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CN MB: Judge Slams Law, Delays Sentencing

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 05/20/2017 - 07:00
Winnipeg Free Press, 20 May 2017 - Gives mom convicted of drug smuggling time to arrange child care ahead of mandatory prison term In a case that has raised questions about the effect of mandatory minimum sentences, a Manitoba judge has taken pity on a woman he convicted by agreeing to give her more freedom before he sends her to prison.
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CN AB: Oped: Alberta Not Getting The Full Picture On Opioids

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 05/20/2017 - 07:00
Edmonton Sun, 20 May 2017 - By any objective measure, the opiate crisis has affected British Columbia far more severely than Alberta. Both legal and illegal opiate use is more prevalent, and it was the first province to see this unprecedented number of deaths due to overdoses of fentanyl and other opiates.
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CN PI: OPED: Time To Focus On Preventables

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 05/20/2017 - 07:00
The Journal-Pioneer, 20 May 2017 - In a recent Canadian Public Health Association discussion paper, "A New Approach to Managing Illegal Psychoactive Substances in Canada," the point was made emphatically that our current approach to managing risk is not working. Here are some of its highlights:
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Canada: Pot Plans Respect International Treaties

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 05/20/2017 - 07:00
Lethbridge Herald, 20 May 2017 - Task force leader says Canada can be an example A former Liberal cabinet minister who led a federally appointed task force on legalizing cannabis says Canada's plan to green light the drug for recreational use is in keeping with the spirit of international treaties - all of which criminalize the possession and production of marijuana.
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CN ON: Legal Pot Poses Problems For Municipalities

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 05/20/2017 - 07:00
London Free Press, 20 May 2017 - Lambton County trains managers as local governments brace for expected challenges SARNIA - With Canada ready to legalize marijuana by next July, Ontario municipalities are ablaze with activity prepping for the impacts of that move - including in the workplace.
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CN ON: Municipalities Eye Workplace Pot Policies

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 05/20/2017 - 07:00
The Observer, 20 May 2017 - With Canada ready to legalize marijuana by next July, Ontario municipalities are ablaze with activity prepping for the impacts of that move - including in the workplace. The County of Lambton recently held a training session for its 75 managers about marijuana and workplace safety. Among the chief municipal concerns around legalization include the potential for workers to believe it's legal for them to smoke marijuana on municipal property, as well as the potential for impaired driving if a high worker operates a municipal vehicle.
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Chronicle AM: Drug Policies Fueling Hep C Rise, MI Init Begins Signature Drive, More... (5/19/17)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 20:25

The CDC issues a damning report about drug policy and Hep C, the clock is ticking on the Vermont legalization bill as the governor ponders his choices, Michigan legalizers hit the streets with petitions for 2018, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Michigan Legalization Initiative Signature Gathering Gets Underway. The state Board of Canvassers Thursday gave its go-ahead for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol to begin signature gathering for its marijuana legalization initiative, and the group immediately sent canvassers onto the streets. The measure would legalize up to 2.5 ounces and 12 plants for adults and create a system of legal marijuana commerce. The campaign needs a little more than 252,000 valid voter signatures within six months to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

Texas Poll Has Majority Support for Legalization. A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll has a slight majority for marijuana legalization, with 32% saying small amounts should be legalized and 21% saying any amount should be legalized. That's 53% for some form of legalization. Some 30% said only medical marijuana should be legal, while only 17% said no form of marijuana should be legal.

Vermont Clock Ticking on Legalization Bill -- Governor Has Five Days to Veto or Not. The state legislature sent the legalization bill it approved -- Senate Bill 22 -- to Gov. Phil Scott (R) on Thursday. Under state law, he has five days to sign or veto the bill. If he fails to act, the bill becomes law without his signature. He is facing heavy pressures on all sides. Stay tuned.

Drug Policy

High Hep C Rates Linked to Drug Policy Failures. A report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention finds that 17 states had high rates of Hep C because they lacked laws and Medicaid policies to prevent drug users from being infected with the disease or obtaining treatment once they did. Seven of those states had a Hep C rate more than twice the national average, and all the others also had above average rates. The report said the states needed to focus more on reducing intravenous drug users' Hep C risk by enacting laws such as allowing pharmacies to sell syringes to the public and by enacting Medicaid policies that do not require patients to be drug free for a certain people before getting treatment. "It is important for policy makers and public health officials to work together to understand the various needs of particular populations to prevent HCV transmission and disease," the report concluded.

International

Trump-Santos Meeting Shows Divergence on Drug Policy. As President Trump and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos addressed reporters at a White House press conference Thursday, clear drug policy differences emerged. While Trump emphasized "building the wall," or an interdiction-based strategy, Santos declined to endorse that strategy, explaining that drug policy is a complex international issue that requires innovation and collaboration. "We declared the war on drugs 40 years ago -- the world declared the war on drugs -- and it's a war that has not been won. We must be more effective and more efficient," Santos said.

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CN BC: City Calls For More Fentanyl Test Strips

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 07:00
Metro, 19 May 2017 - Six people died from overdoses last week in Vancouver As the number of overdose deaths continues to rise in Vancouver, the city announced it wants to see more fentanyl test strips made available to drug users.
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Canada: Streamlined Injection-Site Conditions Become Law

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 07:00
Globe and Mail, 19 May 2017 - A piece of legislation that makes it easier to open supervised injection sites has become law, replacing Harper-era regulations that effectively stalled the harm reduction service as overdose deaths climbed. Under Bill C-37, which received royal assent on Thursday, agencies wanting to open a supervised-injection site must meet five streamlined conditions, down from 26 under the previous Respect for Communities Act.
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CN AB: Column: Tackling The Problem Of Opioids

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 07:00
Lethbridge Herald, 19 May 2017 - We've all heard the very troubling news reports in Alberta and across Canada about the growing problem of addiction to opioids, especially fentanyl. Opioid addition is devastating families and causing an alarming number of deaths among those who - knowingly or unknowingly - make the mistake of using it. The issues associated with opioid addiction touch many different agencies, institutions, public and social service organizations. It touches families, and it touches individuals.
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Chronicle AM: Federal MJ Banking Bill Filed, More Workers Test Positive for Drugs, More... (5/18/17)

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 20:25

Marijuana policy continues to motivate members of Congress, a leading drug testing firm reports that positive worker drug tests are on the rise, Maryland's first medical marijuana cultivator gets final approval to grow, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Bipartisan Senate Bill to End Federal Marijuana Banking Ban Filed. Eight US senators running the gamut from Rand Paul (R-KY) on the right to Cory Booker (D-NJ) on the left filed a bill to block federal regulators from punishing financial institutions for doing business with state-legal marijuana-related businesses. The bill is not yet available on the congressional web site.

Lawmakers Push Federal Legalization Bill. US Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA) and allies held a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday to try to gain some momentum for Garrett's Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (Senate Bill 1227), which was introduced in February but has gone nowhere so far. Garrett said that he had enthusiastically prosecuted marijuana offenders, but grew tired of "creating criminals out of people who otherwise follow the law." Joining Garrett was another of the bill's 11 cosponsors, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who said "the question before us is not whether you think marijuana use is good or bad, or how you feel about this issue, but whether we should be turning people into criminals."

Medical Marijuana

Maryland Regulators Grant First Medical Marijuana Grow License. More than four years after the state approved medical marijuana, the state Medical Cannabis Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to grant final approval to the first firm licensed to grow medical marijuana, ForwardGro in Anne Arundel County. "A new industry in Maryland has been launched," said Patrick Jameson, executive director of the commission. "They can start to grow immediately." Fifteen companies were granted preliminary licenses last year, but none of the others have been granted final approval yet.

Drug Testing

Drug Testing Firm Reports Workers' Positive Tests at 12-Year High. Drug testing firm Quest Diagnostics reported Wednesday that 4.2% of drug tests among the US workforce came back positive, the highest rate since 2004, when it hit 4.5%. The firm reported increases in positive results for marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine, but heroin remained unchanged. "This year's findings are remarkable because they show increased rates of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across virtually all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations," said Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostic Employer Solutions.

International

DPA's Dr. Carl Hart Gets Death Threats, Insults for Speaking Out Against Duterte's Drug War.Neuroscientist and Drug Policy Alliance board member Dr. Carl Hart cut short a visit to the Philippines last week after his remarks challenging Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs, his assertion that methamphetamine use "shrinks the brains," and his openness about his own drug use resulted in hostile ridicule from the president, a racist cartoon in a Manila-based newspaper, and death threats on social media.

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CN ON: Many Teens Get Into Cars With Impaired Drivers

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 07:00
The Record, 18 May 2017 - One in three high school students reports riding with a driver who has been drinking and one in five got in a car with a driver that consumed marijuana, according to a new University of Waterloo study. Half of all students in Grades 11 and 12 admitted to at least one risky behaviour, either driving after drinking or using marijuana or being a passenger in the car of an impaired driver.
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