TORONTO - An aging construction worker arrived quietly in the
building's basement, took his seat alongside three other men and
struck his lighter below a cooker of synthetic heroin.
A woman, trained to intervene in case of an overdose, placed a mask
over her face as his drug cooked and diluted beneath a jumping flame.
He injected himself, grew still and then told of the loss of his wife
who died alone in her room upstairs - an overdose that came just a few
months before this social service nonprofit opened its doors for
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Northwest Ohio Syringe Services has begun distributing fentanyl test
strips to active users of opioids and other drugs. The exchange, a
program through the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, is part of
a larger strategy of harm reduction to keep people with addiction
issues healthy while using, and provide them with resources and help
when they want to seek treatment.
Fentanyl has become the scourge of anyone trying to fight Ohio's
opioid epidemic: deadly in small quantities and appearing in an
increasing number of fatal overdoses.
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Louisiana's nine future medical marijuana dispensaries have been
selected. The two grow sites, managed by LSU and Southern University,
are preparing to start growing and processing the drug by next
February at the latest.
Legislators have been focused on the issue, too. Two bills are making
their way through the Legislature that would potentially expand the
number of medical marijuana patients.
But after all these preparations are made, will there be doctors for
medical marijuana patients to go to?
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Doug Ford says he is "dead against" supervised injection sites and
believes the focus should be on drug rehabilitation instead.
And if elected premier of Ontario in June, the Progressive
Conservative Leader says he will do everything he can to fight the
opioid crisis and get people who are struggling with addiction the
help they need.
"If your son, daughter, loved one ever had an addiction, would you
want them to go in a little area and do more drugs? I am dead against
that," Mr. Ford said Friday. "We have to help these people. We can't
just keep feeding them and feeding them."
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For decades, it has embraced its gay and lesbian bars and the rock 'n'
roll debauchery of the Sunset Strip. It runs a free nightlife trolley
called The PickUp, with a jar of free condoms by the door.
Now, it's embracing a different type of social scene: pot lounges.
The city is poised to allow cannabis lounges where people can consume
the once-taboo product in a social setting. West Hollywood will join
San Francisco, Oakland and South Lake Tahoe, which earlier this year
became some of the first cities in California to open the consumption
lounges modeled after those in Amsterdam. Communities in the Coachella
Valley are also joining the ranks.
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By the time Ann Marie Owen turned to marijuana to treat her pain, she
was struggling to walk and talk. She also hallucinated.
For four years, her doctor prescribed the 61-year-old a wide range of
opioids for her transverse myelitis, a debilitating disease that
caused pain, muscle weakness and paralysis.
The drugs not only failed to ease her symptoms, they hooked her.
When her home state of New York legalized marijuana for the treatment
of select medical ailments, Owens decided it was time to swap pills
for pot. But her doctors refused to help.
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A car ride anywhere with Denise Young's 16-year-old son Seth can be
Seth was diagnosed as a young child as having low-functioning autism,
a severe form of the disorder that makes him hypersensitive to sound
and light and which can trigger tantrum-like meltdowns.
"They call it a rage," Young said. "He has thrown punches in the back
of my seat, the back of my head (while driving)."
Medication hasn't worked, according to Young. One prescription only
made Seth's rages worse, she said. Another one caused excessive thirst
and hormonal imbalances.
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We have been here before -- a raging epidemic of addiction that
destroys lives, families and communities.
Who was on the front line in the 1990s, when the drug was crack and
the addicts were mostly black? Drug czar William Bennett. His weapons
were prosecution and prison.
Today, when the drugs are opioids and the addicts are mostly white?
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a doctor, is out there, telling the
country, "We need to see addiction as a chronic disease and not a
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A Louisiana House committee voted Thursday (April 5) in favor of a
proposal to expand the use of medical marijuana to treat people with
chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and glaucoma. The bill
cleared committee with an 8-4 vote.
HB 579, sponsored by Rep. Edward James, D-Baton Rouge, met some debate
before the vote. Opponents questioned whether there was enough medical
research establishing medical marijuana as an effective treatment for
people with chronic medical conditions.
A 2016 law allowed the use of medical marijuana to treat certain
conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, muscular dystrophy
and epilepsy. James' bill would add glaucoma, severe muscle spasms,
intractable pain and PTSD to the list.
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A company that planned to open a medical marijuana dispensary south of
downtown Orlando is challenging the city's ordinance regulating such
businesses, alleging it violates state law.
Surterra Florida, which operates five dispensaries statewide, filed
the suit in Orange County Circuit Court last week and is asking a
judge to rule Orlando's law is "invalid and unenforceable."
Tallahassee Attorney William Hall, who filed the suit, is also seeking
a temporary injunction to keep the city from enforcing the law while
the court rules.
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Cure Oahu, backed by a local private investment group, opened with 10
strains, including top sellers Master Kush, Da Glue, Sour Chem and
Sunset Mango. The dispensary in the former Bank of Hawaii branch
building at 727 Kapahulu Ave. said there was heavy demand for indica,
sativa and hybrid flower strains as well as tinctures and lozenges,
which sold out shortly after opening.
The 5,434-square-foot building has had a major makeover with a
high-tech, 2,400-square-foot open lobby and dispensing area with two
private consultation booths and large electronic tablet stations where
customers can browse through information and choose from a variety of
strains. Patients are also able to register and order products online
before coming into the dispensary.
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Following President Trump's rollout of his administration's policy
response to the opioid crisis, it has become clear that the president
would rather waste federal resources trying to execute drug dealers
than allow Americans the option to use medical cannabis.
In his speech in New Hampshire, the president mentioned a terminally
ill patient's "right to try" experimental medications that can enhance
quality of life, but ignored the National Institute of Drug Abuse's
own grudging admission that cannabis use is linked to health
improvements in people suffering a range of diseases, from cancer to
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Joe Redner, Tampa's outspoken strip club owner and lung cancer
patient, is confident he'll be able to legally grow his own marijuana
plants soon, after stating his case in trial before a state circuit
court judge on Wednesday.
Redner, 77, made his case against the Florida Department of Health in
a Tallahassee courtroom Wednesday on why he has a constitutional right
to grow his own marijuana plants. Leon County Circuit Judge Karen
Gievers is expected to rule on the case next week.
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Two people using fentanyl at London's temporary overdose prevention
site on the weekend were resuscitated by a nurse after they overdosed,
Middlesex-London's medical officer of health says.
"These people were inexperienced, and fentanyl is a drug where it's
easy to miscalculate how much you are taking. If this had happened in
a back alley or stairwell somewhere, it could have easily resulted in
death," Dr. Chris Mackie said Sunday.
The drug users were resuscitated Saturday using oxygen, he
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The life-saving drug may actually increase opioid abuse. Here's
My friendly local pharmacy has started selling naloxone kits to the
general public. They think everyone should have one. The idea is that
you never know when you're going to have someone overdose in your home.
As the opioid crisis spreads like a curse across North America,
naloxone - a lifesaving drug that neutralizes the effects of an opioid
overdose - is not confined to first responders anymore. Schools in
Toronto are stocking up in it. Librarians across the United States
have been trained to administer it to overdosing visitors. Everywhere,
the message is: make sure you have some on hand, just in case.
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City's fatality rate is now nearly double Ontario average, fuelling
Opioid-related deaths in Hamilton have soared more than 80 per cent in
From January to October, 75 Hamilton residents died from an opioid
overdose in 2017 compared to 41 during the same period the year before.
"Opioids are continuing to have a devastating impact on individuals,
families, and the community," Hamilton's medical officer of health Dr.
Elizabeth Richardson said in a statement Friday. "The sustained trend
of rising opioid related deaths, which are preventable, in Hamilton is
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Emergency services taxed by spike in overdoses, incidents
Police, firefighters and paramedics are so overwhelmed with
drug-related 911 calls in the days after welfare cheques are issued
that Victoria's police chief wants the province to consider staggering
distribution of the cheques throughout the month.
"Generally speaking, we see a spike during the evening of welfare
Wednesday and the day or two after of overdose calls, disturbances,
drug activity occurring. Sometimes someone has been defrauded or
robbed," Police Chief Del Manak told the Times Colonist.
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Nearly three weeks in, London's temporary overdose-prevention site -
the first of its kind in the province - has gone from four drug users
a day to 44, and front-line workers are beaming.
The stripped-down supervised consumption facility opened Feb. 12, a
quick, co-ordinated response to the growing number of opioid overdoses
among London drug users. As of Tuesday, staff were seeing as many as
44 clients a day.
"Clients are having trouble believing it. It's too good to be true,"
said Sonja Burke, needle exchange director at the Regional HIV/AIDS
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The medical marijuana dispensary that opened in Camden County in
September 2015 is the busiest of the five that have opened in New
Jersey since the program began seven years ago, according to a
Department of Health annual report.
Compassionate Sciences Alternative Treatment Center, in an industrial
park in tiny Bellmawr, served 2,762 patients and sold nearly 885
pounds of cannabis in 2016, the report said. The state had nearly
10,800 registered patients as of the end of last year.
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As a national opioid crisis wages on, Toronto police have decided to
equip their downtown frontline officers with the opioid antidote naloxone.
"This is about life and death, and that's what we signed up to do,"
Chief Mark Saunders told the Toronto Police Services Board at their
Chief Saunders was tasked last year with submitting a report to the
board on how the service might go about deploying the antidote, which
can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
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