CANADA: Reefer Madness Strikes Again – Racism, Violence and Hate the Result!

Marijuana-induced psychosis behind Toronto lawyer’s bat attack, judge rules


Mark Phillips arrives at court in St. Thomas, Ont., on April 10, 2018.

As the federal government prepares to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, an Ontario judge has ruled that cannabis-induced psychosis led a man to a seemingly hate-filled attack on a family, in what appears to be the first case of its kind in Canadian criminal courts.

The man who committed the attack, Mark Phillips, is a Toronto lawyer with an otherwise clean record, and the great-grandson of Nathan Phillips, a former mayor after whom the civic square in front of Toronto City Hall is named. The 37-year-old pleaded guilty Tuesday to assault causing harm in the Dec. 7 incident in St. Thomas, in southwestern Ontario, in which he cracked a man’s rib with a baseball bat.

Sergio Estepa was with his wife, Mari, teenage son and a family friend, speaking Spanish in the parking lot of a St. Thomas mall when a stranger, Mr. Phillips, approached and told them to stop speaking French, according to evidence in court.

He then came at them with a baseball bat, repeatedly screaming “ISIS,” saying he was arresting the family, and calling for help. The family also called for help.

Ontario Court Justice John Skowronski said that, in ordinary circumstances, such an attack would call for a penitentiary sentence ­– that is, at least two years in federal prison. But he accepted the recommendation of defence lawyer Steven Skurka that Mr. Phillips be given a conditional discharge, on the condition that he complete three years of probation. A conditional discharge means that, once his probation is successfully finished, Mr. Phillips will not have a criminal record.

Addressing the family, whose members had told the court in emotional victim-impact statements about the nightmares and anxiety they had experienced, Justice Skowronski said he wanted them to know that what happened to them was an aberration for the country. “Canada is a country of immigrants, different nations, skin colours, accents, names,” he said, adding that his name had not come from this country.

“This is something that took place because of a mental illness.”

Although Crown prosecutor Lisa Defoe had urged a suspended sentence and probation, which would have left Mr. Phillips with a criminal record, she, too, had accepted the defence argument that the attack was caused by cannabis-induced psychosis.

“At first blush this may appear to be a hate crime,” she told Justice Skowronski, “but it’s important for the Crown not to react emotionally.”

Mr. Skurka had told the court that Peter Collins, a forensic psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, had uncovered after several sessions with Mr. Phillips that he had been smoking marijuana heavily, including three or four joints earlier on the day of the attack.

With marijuana legalization on the horizon, the case raises questions about mental-health risks and new challenges for the legal system. According to Mr. Skurka, Dr. Collins warned that higher levels than in the past of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, is creating a higher incidence of drug-induced psychosis.

For complete story


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USA: Facebook Steps Up in Opioid Crisis?

Facebook shuts down drug hashtags on Instagram

Apr 8, 2018

Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, has cracked down on hashtags with drug names such as #fentanyl, #oxycontin, #opioids and more. A search on Saturday for #oxycontin came up with no results, while a search for #fentanyl or #xanax left a posts but also had the message that recent posts “are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”

An Instagram spokesperson told CBS News their “community guidelines make it clear that buying or selling prescription drugs isn’t allowed on Instagramand we have zero tolerance when it comes to content that puts the safety of our community at risk.”

Instagram constantly monitors hashtag behavior.

The move comes just days after Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb criticized social media companies for not doing enough to prevent their sites from being used to sell opioids.

Gottlieb said Wednesday the agency would be inviting the CEOs of major internet companies to a summit to discuss the tech industry’s role in the opioid crisis. Gottlieb said the agency found offers to purchase opioids on a number of social media sites, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, according to Engadget.

“I know that internet firms are reluctant to cross a threshold, where they could find themselves taking on a broader policing role,” he said. “But these are insidious threats being propagated on these web platforms.”

Glassbreaks CEO Eileen Carey told Wired that she had confronted two executives from Facebook about the hashtags. On March 30, she tweeted at Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, about the issue. Leathern responded the next day saying the posts had been removed.

For complete story


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USA: Mommy’s Marijuana Milk!!

Mom’s Marijuana Winds Up in Breast Milk

By Serena Gordon HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Breast-feeding has known benefits for both baby and mom, but if a new mom also smokes marijuana, does the drug turn up in her breast milk?

Yes, says new research. But the exact consequences of the small amount of marijuana that makes it to a baby aren’t yet clear.

“This study is just a start to see if marijuana transferred into breast milk. Levels in milk were quite low,” said senior study author Thomas Hale, director of the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Amarillo.

The researchers also don’t know if the levels of pot in breast milk would rise if a woman smokes more.

Still, study co-author Dr. Teresa Baker, co-director of the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech, said, “We do not recommend the use of marijuana. There’s concern for the developing brain exposed to THC [the active component in marijuana].”

Both Hale and Baker said that women should abstain from smoking marijuana while breast-feeding because there’s simply no known safe amount.

For complete story


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USA: Colorado – SMART CO – Calling the Crap on Cannabis Creep!

SMART CO! Update – April 24, 2018

When Colorado voters legalized marijuana, they may not have envisioned the ways the products and its marketing would evolve. Today’s marijuana products come in various forms and their potency is far higher than the weed of past eras. Meanwhile, youth are exposed to unprecedentedly aggressive marketing of these new products.

In a column in the Colorado Politics newsletter, Smart Colorado Executive Director Henny Lasley chronicled how the marijuana industry has continually tried to expand marijuana commercialization through the legislative process since the 2012 passage of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado.

“Marijuana commercialization in Colorado is linked to higher rates of youth use,” Lasley wrote. “Denver and Pueblo, the epicenters of commercialization, have significantly higher rates of youth marijuana consumption than the state as a whole, according to state data.”

Yet the effort by some in the industry to push the boundaries of what’s allowed is unrelenting, as illustrated by two bills that Smart Colorado has opposed this session.

The first proposal, which would created a pilot program for marijuana delivery, was defeated in a Senate Committee hearing last week.  Smart Colorado highlighted how 18-20 year olds are able to buy medical marijuana and then share it with youth. The proponents had refused to consider an amendment to carve out delivery to 18-20 year olds. We thank Senators Fields, Cooke and Gardner for their leadership by voting against the bill.

The second measure that concerns Smart Colorado is House Bill 1258, which is pending in the state Senate.

Take Action

HB 1258 would allow recreational marijuana stores to open facilities where customers could use marijuana, including highly potent concentrates, on site. Smart Colorado has raised several concerns about it:

  • In communities that opt in, pot shops could double the number of storefronts by adding these new facilities, vastly increasing commercialization.
  • The bill could lead to more impaired drivers on our roads. The number of Coloradans killed in marijuana-involved car accidents has steadily increased since 2013, reaching 77 in in 2016, the most recent year reported by the state.
  • Amendment 64 states: “[N]othing in this section shall permit consumption that is conducted openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others.” The laws governing alcohol allow for public consumption in licensed premises – this constitutional language governing marijuana specifically prohibits it.

We urge you to share these concerns with your state senator and tell her or him to vote against HB 1258. This convenient state service allows you to identify your state legislators and find their contact info.  Please email or call your state senator today. Your voice matters!

Educating parents on risks of increasing marijuana potency

The potency of Colorado’s marijuana products have increased hand in hand with commercialization, with unprecedented levels of THC, marijuana’s main mood-altering ingredient.

Smart Colorado’s new education campaign in Colorado Springs, supported by local funders, warns parents that today’s marijuana products are “deceptively different” from the marijuana they may have experienced decades ago.

High-impact billboards on I-25 point to, a new informational source on the risks of high-potency marijuana products to developing brains. The billboards were covered by the local NBC affiliate, KOAA, and we’re promoting the campaign on Smart Colorado’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

We hope this educational resource prompts parents to have productive discussions with their children. If you find it useful, please share it with parents you know.

Please support Smart Colorado’s advocacy for kids

If you believe in Smart Colorado’s mission, please donate today to support our work. As a nonprofit, we depend on the generosity of people like you. Thousands also have liked Smart Colorado on Facebook to get the latest news about our efforts to protect youth.  You can also engage with us on Twitter. And please spread the word to your friends, family and neighbors. Thank you.


About Smart Colorado

Smart Colorado is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of Colorado youth as marijuana becomes increasingly available and commercialized. Smart Colorado is a project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center. To learn more about Smart Colorado, please visit:



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DRUG FREE AMERICA: Celebrating a True Community Champion – Calvina Fay!

For information contact: John Pastuovic  312-925-9092

Calvina Fay Announces her retirement from Drug Free America Foundation

For Immediate Release

St. Petersburg, FL – Thursday, April 26, 2018- Calvina Fay, Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation announced at Wednesday night’s Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards Gala that she will be retiring at the end of the month. Fay has been executive director of the organization for twenty years and a drug prevention advocate for over thirty-five years.

As Calvina Fay steps down as executive director, she does so after a distinguished career in drug prevention that few can match. “Under Calvina Fay’s leadership, Drug Free America has had a profound impact in Florida, in the United States and throughout the world,” according to Betty Sembler, founder of Drug Free America Foundation.

In her remarks, Fay thanked everyone for their support throughout the years and encouraged them to continue the fight. “Drug Free America Foundation has left an enormous footprint on the effort to combat substance abuse, and I know through our shared commitment this organization will continue to lead the way,” Fay said. “Without the efforts of this organization, I am convinced that schedule one drugs like heroin, LSD, PCP and marijuana would be legal, and the number of young people using these illicit drugs would be far greater,” she added.

In addition to her work with Drug Free America Foundation, Fay was a founding board member of Save Our Society from Drugs (S.O.S.) and was president of Drug Watch International, a network engaged in combating the drug legalization movement globally. She has served as an advisor to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy as well as several political leaders, including President George W. Bush, on drug policy issues.

Fay is considered a pioneering expert on workplace drug abuse prevention programs. She has authored several books, including The Supervisor’s Handbook for Preventing Drug Abuse in the Workplace and Starting a Drug Free Business Initiative, as well as numerous newsletters and publications in the field on regional and national levels. She was the managing editor and co-author of A Report on Employer Attitudes and the Impact of Drug Control Strategies on Workplace Productivity. She also served as the managing editor of a monograph titled Drug Abuse in the Decade of the Brain.

Fay also holds a master’s degree in business administration and has built and sold two successful businesses. She has taught at a number of universities including Argentina’s Universidad del Salvador, where she was named an honorary professor.

Fay expressed her optimism that the momentum will continue and increase under new leadership. “Amy Ronshausen, the incoming executive director, shares my passion for this mission. I have been privileged to have her by my side for the past 10 years, and this organization is fortunate to have her as its next leader,” Fay concluded.


“We here at ‘DONT LEGALIZE DRUGS’ are very sorry to see a wonderful champion for best practice drug policy advocacy, step back.

Calvina’s commitment and contribution to the health and well-being of our society has been stellar and rarely equaled. We want to thank her and her family for their superlative dedication and remarkable impact and legacy!

She will be missed – But not forgotten!”



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USA: Chinese Criminals Cultivating Cannabis Crime Chaos in California!

US seizes pot-growing houses tied to China-based criminals


McGregor Scott, the U.S. Attorney For the Eastern District of California, discusses the months-long investigation that led to the law enforcement raids on illegal pot grows in roughly 100 Northern California homes, during an interview the Associated Press, April 4, 2018, in Sacramento,

Hundreds of federal and local law enforcement agents have seized roughly 100 Northern California houses purchased with money wired to the United States by a Chinese-based crime organization and used to grow massive amounts of marijuanaillegally, authorities said Wednesday.

The raids culminated a monthslong investigation focusing on dozens of Chinese nationals who bought homes in seven counties. Most of the buyers were in the country legally and were not arrested as authorities investigate if they were indebted to the gang and forced into the work, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said.

Much of the pot was shipped to Georgia, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania through Atlanta, Chicago and New York City, he said. The drug is legal in California but requires permits to grow and can’t be sent across state lines. It is still banned by the U.S. government.

Black-market pot-growing houses have proliferated in the inland California region where authorities carried out the raids, and many of them were traced to Chinese criminal organizations from the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-2000s, Scott said. The high number of grow houses in the area may be because of low property prices compared with the Bay Area and the state’s large Chinese population, the prosecutor said.

Scott called the recent crackdown “a game-changer” that may have cost the criminal organization “hundreds of millions of dollars” in lost drug profits and the money it spent on the homes.

“It hits the criminals right where it counts — in the pocketbook,” he said.

Authorities tracked at least 125 wire transfers totaling $6.3 million from Fujian Province in China, all just below the $50,000 limit imposed by the Chinese government.

For complete story


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USA: Boehner Back-flip for Bucks!

The Disgusting Hypocrisy of John Boehner

By James McClure |  Apr 14, 2018

In a disgusting display of hypocrisy, former House Speaker John Boehner joined the marijuana legalization movement earlier this week after opposing cannabis reform for decades. Boehner claims that his position on marijuana has “evolved” in recent years, but the move is depressingly consistent with his stance toward cashing in on his political influence.

Boehner declared his new position on marijuana at the same time as announcing his decision to join the cannabis investment group Acreage Holdings as a member of its board of advisors (likely a euphemism for unregistered lobbyists).

That coincidence might seem innocent until you consider Boehner’s track record of selling out to to special-interest groups.

Back in 1995, then Congressman Boehner handed out checks from tobacco lobbyists to his colleagues on the floor of the House of Representatives while the chamber was deliberating whether or not to support government subsidies for tobacco farmers. That’s right: he was acting as Big Tobacco’s messenger boy by brazenly handing out checks in plain sight.

So it’s no surprise that after leaving Congress in 2015, Boehner immediately took a position as a lobbyist for Reynolds America – the distributors of Camels, which just so happen to be Boehner’s favorite cigarettes. It was the perfect job for the politician that NPR dubbed “the nation’s highest-ranking smoker” during his tenure as House Speaker. But that title is actually a misnomer because Boehner only approved of puffing one specific plant.

While shilling for Big Tobacco, Boehner spoke out against marijuana – a significantly less harmful substance than cigarettes. But that didn’t stop Boehner from becoming one of the biggest proponents of the debunked ‘gateway drug‘ theory while serving as House Speaker.

“I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug,” he told Bloombergback in 2011. “I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.”

That bit about alcohol is particularly galling since Boehner cozied up to liquor lobbyists during his time on Capital Hill. Between 1991 and 2004, Boehner’s political action committee took in $110,000 from the Wine and Sprits Wholesalers of America – one of many alcohol lobbies that invested in Boehner to represent their interests in Congress.

While speaking up for tobacco and liquor lobbyists, Boehner tried to silence the will of voters in Washington, DC by voting against implementing a successful ballot initiative to let patients in the District use medical marijuana. Of course, that was back in 1999 – when there wasn’t much money to be made in the marijuana industry. Now that state-legalized markets are making billions in sales every year, it’s no surprise that Boehner has suddenly “evolved” on the issue. For complete story Backflipping Boehner

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USA: New Jersey Governor – Let’s not let facts get in the way of a Stoner Agenda!


March 2018

Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy vowed to fight for the legalization of marijuana, despite opposition in his own party, the Democratic Party of New Jersey.  New Jersey’s Black Caucus and many Democratic representative support decriminalization as a better alternative. Governor Murphy seems to be acting recklessly.

New Jersey’s new governor should know that Colorado has a $500 -700 million budget deficit this year, and that Colorado Governor Hickenlooper advised other governors not to legalize.   All drugs become more available via legalization of marijuana.

Ties to Cannabis Industry and Lobby

However, the governor’s chief of staff, Peter Cammarano, founded the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association.   Cammarano did not disclose who is on the trade group’s board, but one wonders how much its members donated to Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign.

If the industry donated to Murphy’s campaign, one can consider this money “blood money.”   Legalization usually leads to more people using all drugs, and more DUI driving deaths.  In the midst of an opioid crisis, this policy normalizes pot use rather than offering people an alternative of recovery, hope, and success.

SAM and RAMP oppose Legalization

Do you want a New Jersey with more or fewer people using drugs? Do you want a state with more impaired drivers on the road or fewer of them? In the midst of an opioid crisis, do you want to further drug normalization?

We all know who will pay for this policy – vulnerable communities (where do YOU think pot shops will end up?), our youth (what parent can honestly say that using pot is GOOD for their kids?), and Garden State taxpayers (today’s highly potent THC is linked to a host of problems, including mental illness). And we know drug dealers will thrive under legalization by evading taxes, undercutting the legal price, and selling to kids. If we have an age limit as the Governor proposes, who do we think will keep selling pot to a 12-year-old? Just ask Colorado, where a major newspaper just labeled the state “marijuana’s black market hub.”

For complete story


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USA: SAM Press Conference

WATCH: SAM Press Conference To Be Broadcast Live on C-SPAN2 at 12:00pm on 4/20

Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, Nation’s First African-American Magistrate Judge & Experts from NIH, AAA, and representatives from other sectors will be at the National Press Club t o Highlight Marijuana Harms 

[Washington, DC] – At noon on 4/20,  Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is hosting a press event with former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, AAA Representatives, and other experts on April 20th – the unofficial “marijuana holiday,” to highlight the harms of marijuana to society.
This event will highlight the damage of marijuana and the explosion of high potency THC on the market, and attendees will hear from ER doctors, roadway specialists, researchers, members of the clergy, elected officials, and others.

Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Hon. Patrick J. Kennedy, Former United States Representative, Honorary Board Member, Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Hon. Arthur Burnett, Sr., The Nation’s First African American Magistrate Judge
Jake Nelson, Director, Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research, AAA
Dr. Roneet Lev, Chief of Scripps Mercy Emergency Department San Diego
Dr. Christine Miller, Neuroscientist, Advisory Board Member, Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Senator Ron Rice, New Jersey State Senator, Chair, Legislative Black Caucus
Bishop Jethro James, Senior Pastor, Paradise Baptist Church
Bishop Ronald Demery Jr., Pastor, Bible Way Church, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Susan Weiss, Director, Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse
WHAT: SAM 4/20 event with former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and others to highlight the harms of marijuana.
Friday April 20th, 2018
Press Arrival: 11:50AM
Start of Press Conference: 12:00PM
WHERE: Bloomberg Room, National Press Club, 529 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20045

About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit


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GLOBAL: Cannabis Cramps No Joke

Marijuana linked to ‘unbearable’ sickness across US as use grows following legalisation

‘The pain was unbearable, like somebody was wringing out my stomach like a washcloth’

By the time Thomas Hodorowski made the connection between his marijuana habit and the bouts of pain and vomiting that left him incapacitated every few weeks, he had been to the emergency room dozens of times, tried anti-nausea drugs, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, endured an upper endoscopy procedure and two colonoscopies, seen a psychiatrist and had his appendix and gallbladder removed.

The only way to get relief for the nausea and pain was to take a hot shower.

He often stayed in the shower for hours at a time. When the hot water ran out, “the pain was unbearable, like somebody was wringing my stomach out like a washcloth”, said Hodorowski, 28, a production and shipping assistant who lives outside Chicago.

It was nearly 10 years before a doctor finally convinced him that the diagnosis was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that causes cyclic vomiting in heavy marijuana users and can be cured by quitting marijuana.

Until recently the syndrome was thought to be uncommon or even rare. But as marijuana use has increased, emergency room physicians say they have seen a steady flow of patients with the telltale symptoms, especially in states where marijuana has been decriminalised and patients are more likely to divulge their drug use to physicians.

After marijuana was legalised in Colorado, we had a doubling in the number of cases of cyclic vomiting syndrome we saw,” many probably related to marijuana use, said Dr Cecilia J Sorensen, an emergency room doctor at University of Colorado Hospital at the Anschutz medical campus in Aurora, who has studied the syndrome.

Dr Eric Lavonas, director of emergency medicine at Denver Health and a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, said, “CHS went from being something we didn’t know about and never talked about to a very common problem over the last five years.”

Now a new study, based on interviews with 2,127 adult emergency room patients under 50 at Bellevue, a large public hospital in New York City, found that of the 155 patients who said they smoked marijuana at least 20 days a month, 51 heavy users said they had during the past six months experienced nausea and vomiting that were specifically relieved by hot showers.

Extrapolating from those findings, the authors estimated that up to 2.7 million of the 8.3 million Americans known to smoke marijuana daily or near daily may suffer from at least occasional bouts of CHS.

For complete article



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