kids have to play on that, you know?
Over the past decade, prescription pills have become the latest drug-epidemic bogeyman. A study published earlier this year claimed that one in four American teenagers have misused medications at least once—a 33 percent increase from 2008—and OxyContin has been leading the charge. The painkiller’s active ingredient, oxycodone, gives users a feel-good high similar to heroin and is much easier to score than other hard drugs. But how did it get so popular in the first place?
A Look Inside Illegal Canadian Weed Grow Houses from the 1990s
In the mid-90s, photographer Victor John Penner did some pro-bono work for Jim Skipp, his graphic designer friend in Vancouver, British Columbia that involved shooting a police chopper and some officers. A few years later one of those cops asked him to photograph some grow houses as they were being busted so they could submit pics for some sort of police award. For Victor it sounded like an awesome opportunity to gain a veritable backstage pass to what was then a mostly unexplored and shady underground scene. The project became the series Not Safe to Occupy, named after the warning the cops would tack to the door of grow houses after every bust. We recently asked Victor about his haunting, candid shots.
VICE: Can you give us some context on what things were like in Vancouver back when you shot these?
Victor John Penner: Back then, the citizens of Vancouver were blissfully ignorant about what was going on in every neighborhood as far as grow houses went, but in general, pot was such a part of the fabric of the city that they stopped paying attention to its casual use.
At the time that I shot [these photos], there was definitely organized crime running the show. But they were much more low profile than the explosion of very public gang violence that happened here in 2009, when there were 20 killed and 40 wounded in the first three months of the year while the street price of BC Bud hit $3,000 and up per pound.
A School in Ontario Staged a Fake Massacre for a Police Training Exercise
Journalism students at Sheridan College, near Toronto, were ordered to take down video and photos (which you can see in the gallery above) of a mock school shooting that have ruffled some feathers with the school’s faculty and administration.
On November 25, the college hosted a training exercise for the Halton Regional Police Department. Students from the school’s musical theatre program acted as if they had been shot dead, complete with fake wounds and blood.
The scenario took place with two shooters played by plainclothes cops. About 100 students and staff participated in the event, with 15 playing dead and a further 10 playing wounded.
Canada’s New Medical Weed Program Puts the Poorest Patients Last
At the moment, 40,000 Canadians are currently authorized to possess medical marijuana. Until April 2014, these patients can purchase their supply from a licensed personal producer, or they can get permission to grow it themselves, but soon every Canadian medical marijuana user will be forced to comply with a new medical program that will push them to buy legal medical weed from commercial government-regulated facilities.
Canada’s new “Marihuana for Medical Purposes” (yes, they spell it with an ‘H’ for some reason) program is creating an emerging for-profit market that will regulate crop control, dump money into the economy, and attempt to position Canada as one of the world’s top exporters of medical marijuana. But it’s the patients who are caught in the middle of an evolving system that threatens to make medical weed so expensive many will no longer be able to afford it, forcing them to continue growing their own personal stashes—which will be illegal as of April 2014—or buying it from regular ol’ pot dealers.
According to Health Canada, no one’s trying to turn sick Canadians into criminals with these new laws. It was more in response to problems with the current Marihuana Medical Access Program(MMAP), which a Health Canada spokesperson says is “open to abuse.”
An exhaustive look at the past 9 days in the life of crack-smoking, press-conference holding Toronoto Mayor Rob Ford, the man who’s so awful it’s exhausting.
What’s Going On in the New Rob Ford Video?
This has been a terrible week for the Rob Ford administration. On Tuesday afternoon, Ford admitted that he has smoked crack cocaine, which inspired a nearly unanimous string of mockery from every late-night TV host and Twitter account owner in the world. More importantly, that admission, after months of question-dodging and denial, sounded more like a proverbial fuck you to the City of Toronto and its many hard working councilors and employees who are not currently embroiled in a crack related crime scandal. Then, about an hour after the crack admission, VICE reported that Amin Massoudi, Rob Ford’s spokesman, allegedly hired a hacker to destroy the crack tape on a private server—an allegation that Amin denied hours after we published our investigation, despite not answering several of our very specific requests for comment days before.
The Toronto media has been blue-balling the public all week with hints that there are more bombshells to come, and that’s not surprising. The 474-page surveillance document released last week is so heavily redacted with swaths of thick black ink that clearly there are more, presumably ridiculous, revelations to come. As a journalist, it’s somewhat thrilling. As a Torontonian, it’s exhausting and sad.
Rob Ford’s Office Hired a Hacker to Destroy the Crack Tape
In late July, an anonymous source approached VICE with claims that he had been hired by Amin Massoudi, the communications director for troubled Toronto mayor Rob Ford, to hack into a website.
More specifically, the source—who for matters of simplicity will be referred to as “the hacker” from here on out—said he was asked by Amin to crack the password of a private online directory that allegedly contained a digital copy of the now infamous footage of Mayor Ford smoking a substance out of a crack pipe. Rob Ford has, up until very recently, publicly doubted the existence of the video.
VICE acquired a log of emails that, according to the hacker, detail his correspondence with Amin from May 18 to May 31 of this year. When contacted by VICE, the hacker confirmed the validity of these emails but also said it was a little more complicated than it seemed. He agreed to talk if we would preserve his identity, as publishing it would incriminate him.
In case you aren’t caught up on the intoxicated calamity that is Rob Ford’s contemporary existence, today he bluntly admitted to having smoked crack cocaine in a “drunken stupor.”This insane bombshell comes after last week’s statement from Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, whoconfirmed that the crack tape Gawker and the Toronto Star reported on does indeed exist and contains footage that is “consistent” with their reports that claim the video shows Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Rob Ford also appeared on his weekly radio show this past Sunday toapologize to the City of Toronto and asked for the crack tape to be released to the public “immediately.”
In light of these recent developments, we believe that now is the time to publish portions of Amin and the hacker’s arrangement since first receiving the emails in July for the benefit of public interest.
Rob Ford Needs to Step Down
Update: Rob Ford has commented on today’s revelations by saying: “I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately I can’t it’s before the courts. That’s all I can say. I have no reason to resign.” Reporters yelled questions at him about whether he lied to the people of Toronto, but the mayor just walked away.
Early this morning, a line of reporters with microphones and cameras waited outside of Rob Ford’s house. When Rob Ford emerged from his suburban cave, he was immediately bombarded with questions about whether or not he is at the center of a drug-related police investigation, along with questions about his relationship with Alexander Lisi, a man who is known as Rob Ford’s driver, close friend, and an alleged drug dealer with a history of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, Rob Ford didn’t take the questions gracefully and ended up screaming and yelling, “Get off my property! What don’t you understand? Get off my property, partner!” at the reporters who, undoubtedly, are only asking the questions that are on every Torontonian’s mind right now.
This morning’s scrum was the result of the Toronto police released a 474-page document—with a lot of the presumably juicy stuff blacked out and redacted to avoid implicating those who are currently innocent—detailing results of a surveillance operation that clearly targeted Rob Ford and Alexander Lisi. The police dubbed their municipal spy mission “Project Brazen 2,” which I like to believe was inspired by the unbelievably bold and inappropriate behavior Toronto’s mayor appears to believe he can get away with.
I didn’t expect a major bombshell to come out of today’s release, given that an investigation is still underway and given that Ford has been gleefully avoiding the issue ofwhether or not he’s a crack user by decorating his office like a haunted house. I was very wrong. Shortly after the document was released, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair vindicated what Gawker and the Toronto Star have been claiming since May—much to the ire of Ford and his legion of largely suburban political supporters. Blair held a press conference where he admitted that yes, the crack video exists, and yes, Rob Ford is indisputably pictured in it with a crack pipe in his hands.