VICE feed for https://www.vice.comenFri, 19 Oct 2018 14:24:11 +0000<![CDATA[The Best Lookalike Requests We've Had So Far]]>, 19 Oct 2018 14:24:11 +0000Wouldn't it be nice if you could vastly improve everything about yourself without putting in any effort whatsoever? Good news: with, you can.

Inspired by Oobah Butler's latest article for VICE – in which he sent fake, better versions of himself on TV and radio to make himself appear smarter, hotter and more charming – we've launched a lookalike service,, which you can use to find stand-ins, to trick people into thinking that you're actually good looking, intelligent and interesting.

We've had over 650 applications since launching the service on Wednesday – and this is real; we will be sending out lookalikes, we just need a minute to get it all sorted. But for now, we've picked some of the best reasons for needing an Oobah people have sent in (and omitted the 100 or so from people who just want to be taller):

- My new housemate’s mum is coming to visit the house soon. I’d like to get a few Oobahs, one in each room of the house while she’s given the tour. The aim is to convince this woman that I can be in several rooms at once.

- I would really like my Oobah to go to my boyfriend’s gig so that I don’t have to, and pretend to like the music more than I do.

- Do sick flips on a longboard.

– I need my Oobah to stand in for me in my social basketball league at university. I need him to be taller than me and display a certain 'flare' which gets the crowd going.

- I'm an award winning, glowingly critiqued artist top 1% BA Fine Art. But I can't schmooze. I have social anxiety. I believe I could be in the international circuit if I could impress with charm, youth and beauty. I'm dead serious, send me a stand in.

- Can he break up with my fiancee please.

- Caddy for my daughter when she plays golf. It’s not like my daughter talks to me when I’m carrying her clubs and my arms are full so I can’t even hold a beer!! Should be easy.

- Bigger cock.

- Someone who looks like they have their shit together whilst I cry at home into my bowl of coco-pops. Also I wanna date this fit guy but I have a fear of intimacy so could u bang him for me if that’s ok?

- My gf can down pints faster than me and then calls me a pussy so I could do with an Oobah to beat her (in chugging) so I can feel like a man again.

- I just want a version of me that isn't fat.

– I would love to send my Oobah to school for a day. It would be funny to see if anyone notices, especially my teachers. He would be smarter, and hotter than me. I’d be instantly popular, all because of my Oobah.

- Make selfie wis two model-looking girl near London Bridge.

- I recently said I was starting a book club and people are actually interested in joining... I’m not sure I want to go through with it but I also don’t want to let people down.


- My brother’s engagement party is coming up next week and he says he wants “all the people who are important to him” to come along. I’d like a lookalike who is more important than me (mid-ranking civil servant, perhaps?) to step in.

- Getting a lot of funeral and wedding invites. I'd just like to send them £50 and a lookalike so that they feel like they've got the best version of me.

- I've always wanted to be able to juggle. I can't juggle.

- Go to visit my gran for me and act like a smarter better version of myself so she's proud for once.

- I need him to cover me 9 to 6 daily so that I can focus on becoming a pro football player. Also I will use the money he earns to buy IG followers so that I can be a IG influencer in case the pro football thing doesn't work out.

- Just be me but not me init.

- I need my Oobah to do school for me because there are simply just too many snakes at my school.

- Just fuck me up.

- idk man, I'm just fascinated to see if there are any more 5'11 half-Greek overweight ladies with severe anxiety in the world and if they're better at organising their lives than me.

- Basically just want a less jaded me to text boys for me because I can't be bothered.

- I need an Oobah to go to Thorpe Park and be less scared than me.

- I would like him to go and beat up my drug dealer.

- I have always wanted to do stand up comedy. The problem is I am not funny enough nor do I have the appropriate situational awareness. I really want to impress my girlfriend but I know I would personally fail. I need an Oobah!

- Have my Oobah be a mad dog cunt and possibly do my med interview for me.

neggj8VICE StaffJamie CliftonlookalikeOobah Butler
<![CDATA[Hate Preacher Anjem Choudary Has Been Released From Prison]]>, 19 Oct 2018 13:05:01 +0000Notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary has been released from prison after serving half of his five-and-a-half year sentence. Just over two years ago he was sent down for inviting support for Isis.

Choudary spent years as a sort of "tabloid terrorist", saying provocative things about Islamic extremism that were a red rag to the sensationalist press. He had numerous greatest hits, but to give you a flavour, in 2008 he led a meeting in which one speaker said the 9/11 attacks had "taught [America] a lesson". At the meeting, Choudary talked about the "flag of Sharia" flying over Downing Street by 2020 and accused mainstream Muslim organisations of "selling their souls to the devil".

He seemed to personify an extremist Muslim archetype as imagined by an EDL supporter. But, a trained solicitor, he always seemed to know what he could get away with legally and where the line was. Police attempts to stop him were frustrated for years, until 2015, when he was convicted under the Terrorism Act 2000 for expressing support for Isis in lectures he published online.

There are numerous conditions on his release: he'll have to live at an agreed address, electronically tagged, with restricted internet and communications. There will also be restrictions on meeting other extremists, speaking publicly, holding meetings or going to certain places.

His early release is already going down like a pint of sick with nearly everyone.

Nick Lowles, chief executive of anti-racist organisation Hope Not Hate, said:

"No other British citizen has had so much influence over so many terrorists as Choudary – we’ve tracked over 120 Islamist terrorists linked to him – and his release is likely to turbo-charge an already-energised far right, acting as a recruiting sergeant for the likes of Stephen Lennon (‘Tommy Robinson’) and violent groups such as the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA), which could spark unrest. It’s no exaggeration to say the far right are waiting for Choudary’s release with an equal dose of excitement and outrage."

The MailOnline has already worked out that his bail hostel is near a school (or, as their headlines put it, "a SCHOOL"), while the Express website has also done the "using caps in headlines" thing to make its point: "Anjem Choudary: UK's most dangerous hate preacher FREED after serving just HALF sentence".

Meanwhile, Fiyaz Mughal of counter-extremism group Faith Matters, told the Independent:

“It is a slap in the face of many people, including many Muslims who have been, for two decades, saying that action needed to be taken against him for the poisoning of young minds.

“With individuals like him, who are a nexus of extremism, a sentence should mean a sentence that is served out.”

Shortly before he screwed up and got himself sent to prison, VICE followed Choudary as he and his Islamist chums engaged in a weird turf war with fascists in east London.

If you want to understand the fuss about Choudary, and the place he occupies in British politics, you could do worse than watch our 2014 film, London’s Holy Turf War:

qv994bMac HackettSimon Childsprisonextremismtabloidsislamic extremism
<![CDATA[TV Party: 'Gordon, Gino and Fred's Road Trip' on ITV]]>, 19 Oct 2018 11:35:50 +0000 Welcome to TV Party, VICE's weekly TV column, brought to you by resident sad-act, me, Lauren O’Neill, where I basically just talk for a bit about the best (or worst) thing on telly this week. Best enjoyed with a plate of your favourite breaded item and an open mind. Contains spoilers, obvs. This week: ‘Gordon, Gino and Fred's Road Trip.’

I wasn't planning to write about Gordon, Gino, and Fred’s Road Trip, but within seconds of flicking on the first episode, I realised I had no choice. The first minute goes like this: Gino D'Acampo drives a camper van round a corner, blaring "Blue" by Eiffel 65 like a Solihull school disco in 1999, before being told (and I quote) to "shit off" by Gordon Ramsay.


*Seinfeld voice* What's the deal with Gordon, Gino and Fred's Road Trip

In an extremely shrewd move from ITV, Gordon Ramsay, Gino D'Acampo and Fred First Dates have been brought together again (following a Christmas special last year), to eat food and swear in their respective homelands. For Gino, that's Italy (specifically Naples and the surrounding area, where the first episode is set); for Fred, it's France; and for G-Ram, it's Scotland. It seems to have been conceived as a sort of Dad's On Tour extraordinaire.

Who's even in it?


GORDON RAMSAY: Michelin-starred chef, generally mad bastard and one-time ITV cocaine correspondent*. You know him for shouting FUCKING HELL about gone-off chicken breasts and making inadequate head chefs named, like, Randy or Sean cry on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

GINO D’ACAMPO: Less good and famous chef, certainly, but also a Laugh in that he makes his own wine called Gino's Vino. You know him for making your mum/nan/auntie horny too early in the day while he fucks about with a pasta maker on This Morning (and for therefore being the reason why she's now also got a pasta maker and keeps making innuendos about dicks).

FRED NOT SURE OF HIS LAST NAME: Nice French lad who seems a bit out of place here if I’m being honest. You know him for being the guy on First Dates who everyone at the restaurant wishes they were actually dating instead of Mike, the supposedly loveable Warhammer enthusiast from Warrington who smells regrettably like Quavers.

The dynamic, essentially, is: Gordon’s the beleaguered dad trying to get stuff done so he can live his truth and braise all fuck out of some octopi; Gino's the out of control one who, it is revealed staggeringly early on, wears briefs; Fred – less used to making this sort of personality-based TV, but giving it a go – laughs exaggeratedly loudly a lot, sometimes at nothing.


OK fine – but is it any good?

Gino D'Acampo shouting "I'M SWEATING LIKE A PIG" out the window of a caravan. Gino D’Acampo mooing 'til he’s hoarse at a load of water buffalo and then going "look at the way they listen to me". Gino D’Acampo squirting milk directly from a water buffalo onto Gordon Ramsay’s face. Gino D’Acampo calling every helper he encounters his "cousin". Gino D’Acampo wearing a never-ending selection of sunglasses that all look like they were bought on a British pier, pivoting between "70s porn baron", "Hunter S. Thompson Halloween costume", "child on a surfing holiday" and "Pitbull".

Of course it's good.

From Emmerdale to shagging, how mum friendly is it?

I can't shake the feeling that this programme is the direct result of a focus group where a load of older ladies were asked to tell some poor researcher their detailed fantasies about the men on TV they like best, with the top three most-mentioned names then being hauled on board, chucked in a caravan and told to take their tops off for "swimming". So yeah, your mum's already all over it.


Is it likely to cause a Twitter shitstorm?

Not as far as I can gather. This is Wholesomeness Central. Despite all of what ITV would probably like me to call "the hi-jinks", the chefs are generally quite insightful and interesting.

Any last words?

Shit off.

*I really do just want to know if anyone else has days where all they can focus on is the fact that Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine (which saw Gordon Ramsay "investigate" "cocaine" (??) in part by going in the back of a police car while lads on gak got arrested and then also bundled into the back of the car while saying things like "I'm really sorry we’re meeting under these circumstances Gordon") ever existed.


598ekkLauren O'NeillJamie CliftonFOODcookingTelevisionFirst DatesitvGordon Ramsaygino d'acampogordon, gino and fred's road trip
<![CDATA[A 'People's Vote' On Brexit Is a Terrible Idea]]>, 19 Oct 2018 11:18:08 +0000A People's Vote? That's so 2016.

Remainers can never be accused of being boringly consistent. From "referenda are non-binding, parliament is sovereign" to "let's have another referendum!", they are wonderfully undogmatic about their dogma.

George Osborne's Evening Standard is the most hyperventilating supporter of the People's Vote, a campaign group calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal. The paper, promoting a march in London this Saturday organised by the campaign, claims that it's a "grassroots campaign with support from across the political spectrum". Except that it isn't. The campaign, as it says on its website, is run by Open Britain, which also funds an anti-Brexit "youth movement" founded by PR man Felix Marquardt, known as Our Future Our Choice. This is what is known as astroturfing – when an organisation presents a campaign as being organised by members of the public – and its organisers still haven't stopped treating us like idiots.

Open Britain is the successor to Britain Stronger in Europe, the official campaign of Downing Street during the referendum. It is led by the campaign's former press chief James McGrory. Its killer political instincts can be gauged by the failure to notice the significance of the initials "BSE". It was launched by Tory peer and former M&S boss, Stuart Rose, and June Sarpong, in a complacent, gaffe-ridden affair which drew press heckles. Its board, no doubt reflecting its idea of diversity, included Tory MP Damian Green and Labour apparatchik Will Straw, Karren Brady of the Apprentice, New Labour Peer Peter Mandelson and millionaire businessman Richard Rudd. Its first video was essentially a celebration of easyJet, gap yahs and deregulated markets. Its first "letters" to the public were written by such figures as Alan Sugar and Richard Branson, celebrating the fact that the EU gave them huge market access.

In short, Open Britain is the successor to a campaign whose pitch was: the EU is great for rich people! With these impeccable business credentials, it raised more than twice as much money as Vote Leave, raking in donations from Lord Sainsbury, hedge fund manager David Harding and Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman. As Rafael Behr’s detailed postmortem shows, they used that money to hire the genius who masterminded the Liberal Democrats' 2015 campaign, Ryan Coetzee. Coetzee’s messaging supposed that most swing voters would identify their interests with those of business owners, since the economic dislocations following from Brexit would hurt them, their jobs and their public services. The campaign ignored, as much as possible, traditional social-democratic opposition to the EU, which regards it as an undemocratic business club. This is a view to which many Labour voters still cleaved, and for this, among other reasons, a third of Labour voters ultimately backed Leave. They staged the debate as one between two factions of the right: the Brexiteer loonies vs the sensible, if somewhat hard-nosed, establishment. And lost to the loonies.

Two years on, they appear to have changed tactics. From being a campaign of the establishment, by the establishment and for the establishment, they’re now styling themselves as a populist insurgency. Or what a PR agency might think a populist insurgency looks like, if it was led by the sorts of people who "wanna be inside EU". Liberated from being an official government campaign, they claim they want to build a "new grassroots movement". And they want it, as clearly as possible, to simulate a generational revolt. Hence the mind-numbing Remainer propaganda #askingforageneration, campaigning "For Our Future’s Sakes" (FFS) and pointing out that the old codgers who voted Brexit will die soon, so can be ignored. Hence the ghastly EU Supergirl representing 'the youth of Britain". Hence the People’s Vote march claiming to be a march "for the future", "led by young people whose voices were ignored two years ago".

The one wrinkle in this strategy, apart from the fact that it is utterly vacuous and verging on sociopathic in its incitement of resentment against the elderly, is that their radical, anti-elite, youth wedge is being commandeered by such young upstarts as Tony Blair, Michael Heseltine and Nick Clegg. Such down-to-earth ordinary folk as Delia Smith, Steve Coogan and Bob Geldof. Tracy Ullman, Eddie Marsan and Deborah Meaden. Not to mention, Polly Toynbee, and Chuka Umunna. Granted, Alan Sugar has been dumped, perhaps owing to his notorious propensity to drop a bollock every five minutes. But this cavalcade of ancient stars and politicians looks dispiritingly like the crowd at one of those ITV shows like An Audience with Joe Pasquale. And they’re still treating us as gullible fools to be manipulated by supposedly clever messaging, as if that entire way of doing politics hasn’t been in crisis for the last five years.

Remain would lose a second referendum, perhaps worse than before. There has been a lot of giddy excitement among Remainers over polls which show support for a second referendum increasing. The problem for them is that it doesn’t mean voters have "come round" to their view. A fifth of Leave voters currently back a second referendum, in all likelihood as a guarantee against May’s coming sell-out of her hard Brexit promises. The evidence is that pre-existing attitudes have hardened over Brexit. Recent polling suggests that the nightmare for People’s Vote advocates, the Canada-style hard Brexit trade deal, is more popular among voters than remaining in the EU. All of this is assuming a vote is even possible. Even if parliament were to vote for such a thing, which is extremely unlikely given the parliamentary arithmetic, it would be highly impractical to arrange.

The main reason the Remainers would lose again, however, is that they’ve learned nothing. They still talk in generic terms about "the economy", as though everyone benefits from it in exactly the same way. As though most people might not have slightly different interests, say, to the boss of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. They still have shockingly little to say about the institution that they say Britain must remain a part of. And nothing at all to say to the large number of people who don’t worship the triumvirate of Blair, Heseltine and Clegg. And they deserve to lose, repeatedly, until they get the point.


zm99bxRichard SeymourSimon ChildseuTony BlairPeople's VoteOpen EuropeRemainiacs
<![CDATA[The Sad Magic of English Football Commentary ]]>, 19 Oct 2018 10:51:14 +0000Aside from those instant surges of infatuation that sucker-punch would-be lovers on witching hour dance floors and in after-office bars and wherever else limerence is able to strike, obsessions don't tend to start off at full pelt. The passions that can define a life usually work their way into the system more subtly than that, staking you out over a period of months or even years, waiting patiently for that pivotal moment when everything clicks and suddenly the world no longer makes sense without an avid mania for Airfix models or interpretive dance or pup play wedged firmly at the forefront of it.

I was eight when football took up position just behind the eyes and simply refused to leave, the prism through which pretty much everything else must, now, be absorbed. It's an obsession that has irreparably altered my perception of both time and space; I can no longer sincerely believe that anyone's best years lurk beyond 30, while every solo flight through London's public transport networks invariably becomes a strange attempt to "see the play" all around me, to jockey for position, evade markers and dance my way through the gaps like a human through ball.

It is, as it took a mere 200 words to communicate, a very stupid and sad obsession, and I often wonder what else I could have done with all the hours, words, energy, bile, love, sweat, money and dream-time I've devoted to it. But in truth, there's no obsession I'd rather have than football. And it's an obsession that began with Peter Brackley.

Well, kind of. To say it began with him and him alone is a slight overstatement of the role that the beloved commentator – who passed away last Sunday at the age of 67 – played in all this. It'd be more accurate to say that it began, as it did for so many of my generation, with Gazzetta Football Italia, the weekly Serie A highlights show that lit up rainy, suburban Saturday mornings on Channel 4 throughout what I remember of the 90s. (The full matches shown live on Sundays, billed simply as Football Italia, were a touch too rich for my primary school tastes.)

Once host James Richardson had got a few puns out of his system, smashed a pie in Gazza's face and reviewed the Italian sports pages, Brackley would take over, a plummy angel peering into the ever-present fog of flare smoke to guide you through footage of the latest Atalanta-Cremonese dogfight, of another 35-yard Exocet flying from the boot of the fat, fallen god Álvaro Recoba, of Milan Rapaić springing an exhaustively drilled offside trap simply by running at it very quickly in a jagged line. This was the primordial ooze from which my obsession with football bloomed, the rhythm and cadences of Brackley's delivery still trapped somewhere within me, emerging every now and then to hijack my inner monologue while I'm having a shower or waiting to pay for milk.

peter brackley
Peter Brackley, in a wig, in 2017. Photo: Simon Dack / Alamy Stock Photo

He isn’t the only commentator who's had this effect on me. Even from those barely sentient mid-90s, when I'd be allowed to stay up late to watch England with my mum, I can remember feeling odd as John Motson and Barry Davies growled over David Batty slide tackles like a pair of street-cast extras approaching climax in a Bedfordshire dogging video. Oh yeah: that was the thing I'd meant to say earlier about Football Italia and obsession – that I had no interest in Serie A or in football at all, really, when I first became aware of it, when I'd watch my dad watching the show on his day off and annoy him by repeatedly asking how many teams were playing. It was only when he left the family home permanently that I started paying attention, developed the curiosity to understand. This is a crude way to join up dots, but children's brains aren't especially complicated. Obsession takes its time, but looking back, the pivotal triggers aren't usually hard to identify.

Is there such a thing as a Proustian response to a punch in the face? To this day, maybe my favourite sound – one I got used to hearing on the way home from Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park with my dad – is the rain drumming down on the roof of a gridlocked car, trapped on the motorway with the engine idling, as BBC Radio 5Live's Alan Green moans and grimaces his way through a truly awful game of football. I wonder sometimes if commentators are aware of this role they play in people's lives, the one that transcends football to such an immeasurable extent. The global obsession with the game allows them to get in everywhere, their voices soundtracking awkward cab rides, break-ups and trysts, a fixture on the evening news, finding their way to you via Apple earbuds, scratchy handheld wireless radios and booming from pub cinema systems, infiltrating millions of hungover bedrooms every Saturday for the late kick-off livestream. These are the faceless voices of Britain, always caught in the atmosphere like a thin drizzle, ubiquitous and cherished geeks whose timbres pre-date punk but are as much a part of today's wider culture as chips, trap hi-hats and cocaine.

Alerted to Brackley's death live on air, TalkSport’s Danny Kelly declared that without Football Italia, his show Trans Europe Express would not exist. In truth, the influence of the programme – and thus of Brackley himself – runs far deeper than that, the spark that ignited an interest in football beyond these shores that we can see blossoming all around us today in the form of FIFA tournaments and Mundial magazine and Football Manager house party kitchen chats, in midweek five-a-side pitches littered with the replica strips of Borussia Dortmund, Fiorentina, Athletic Bilbao, Ajax and countless other foreign clubs. His was a voice that was utterly key in widening the scope of what football is and could mean to people locked in an island culture that, until Football Italia, was stubbornly content in its blanket ignorance of other leagues, lifestyles and ways of playing.

There is an idea that great football commentary involves gradually adding to a pantheon of canonical high points – "I'll swear you'll never see anything like this ever again," "Take a bow, son," "It's up for grabs now" and all the rest – moments when talking about football seems to tear through the lining and become utterly inseparable from the game itself. To me, though, it's an art that has always found its purest expression not in these euphoric, communal outbursts but in its sheer ambient persistence, in the voices given free reign to burble on and on, and to await, usually in vain, the next moment of high drama to convey intimately to a watching, listening, obsessive world.


d3qqgzHydall CodeenJamie CliftonFootballSportCommentaryPeter Brackley
<![CDATA[All the News You Need to Read This Morning]]>, 19 Oct 2018 09:18:00 +0000 The news is part boring and part overwhelming, so here's a quick list of all the stuff we thought was significant today:

Diesel and petrol ban should come in much sooner, say MPs

Doctors "need to start an early conversation about death" with patients

The foodie foraging trend has fuelled a sharp rise in the breaking of picking bans in London parks

Hate preacher Anjem Choudary has been released from prison

Man sues Tesco for discrimination after colleague farts in his face

Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter site is reportedly shutting down

A City worker has been banned from every London pub after being found guilty of a racist attack

This post is updated daily.

qv95wxVICE StaffJamie CliftonRACISMdeathFoodieBrexitAnjem Choudaryfood trendspetrol ban
<![CDATA[I Binged All 11 'Halloween' Movies and Now Michael Myers Is My Mr. Big]]>, 19 Oct 2018 08:57:22 +0000I hate horror movies. Jump scares, twisted killers, blood-spattered teens—no thanks. If I wanted to feel my stomach drop through my butt, I’d sort my email by unread messages.

But this week I watched every Halloween movie ever made over the past 40 years. (Yes, including the one starring Life-Size breakout star Tyra Banks .) That’s 11 slash-happy flicks and approximately 20 hours spent trancing out to John Carpenter’s unremitting theme music. Why? For the culture, and for the love of Jamie Lee Curtis, who returns to the iconic role of Laurie Strode in the latest installment, called simply Halloween, in theaters October 19.

I squirmed, I laughed, I shouted at every dumbass who decided to run up the stairs or hide in a closet. Most importantly, I finally understood this Mariah Carey meme. Here’s what went down, and how I came to realize that Michael Myers is basically every bad date I’ve ever had, give or take a drippy murder weapon.

Halloween (1978)

I’m convinced the original working title of A Star Is Born was “Introducing Jamie Lee Curtis.” Until watching this late-70s gem, I never realized how much I stan opaque white tights and oatmeal cardigans, so I’ve already learned something about myself. Laurie (Curtis) may be the “smart one” in her group of high school girlfriends, but she is not smart enough to lock her doors! Honestly there is not one locked door in this whole movie. Everyone in Haddonfield may as well have invited Michael Myers in for Sanka! Our masked serial killer is only into murdering sexually active teens, so as soon as Laurie’s friend Annie (Nancy Kyes) takes her top off I know she’s toast. Can we get these babysitters some life insurance? And sense enough to realize that no grown ass men die from one stab in the neck with a wire hanger?

Halloween II (1981)

Previously on Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) shot his psychotic patient six times until he fell out a window and disappeared, leaving a nasty bloodstain on the lawn. Naturally Michael turns to terrorizing a local hospital (shockingly empty on Halloween), where Laurie finally gets a love interest! Jimmy (Lance Guest) has a dreamy perm, so it’s a shame he and all the other hot hospital staff are undoubtedly going to die.

I can tell nurse Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop) and paramedic Budd (Leo Rossi) really have it coming when they start getting busy in the “hydrotherapy pool.” RIP young love. (Also why does this hospital have a hot tub?) We also learn that Laurie is Michael's sister, the one he hasn’t killed yet, and that’s why he wants to get rid of her, I guess? Loomis winds up blowing himself and Michael up in a room full of oxygen tanks, but it’s only part two of this epic franchise, so something tells me they’re not really dead. Laurie gets carted off in an ambulance... from the hospital? From IMDb, I know she won’t be back for a while.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

What the hell is going on in this movie?! Eventually I realize this installment has nothing to do with anything—and in fact exists in a world where the original Halloween plays on TV. The villains in this bizarre detour are young white dudes sporting identical suits, which… fair! Also we are randomly in California now.

Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) and her shoulder-padded leather jacket are out to discover who killed her dad, the owner of a Halloween store. Dr. Dan (Tom Atkins), who treated her dad for a hot second, decides this is also his mission (mostly because he wants to bang her, despite being married). Turns out all those businessmen (er… robots?) of Silver Shamrock Novelties plan to murder America’s children… in the name of ancient Stonehenge-ian witchcraft? By using evil... pogs? Activated by an inane TV jingle? This movie doesn’t make a lot of sense, so I just accept the fact that Ellie is… also a fembot?

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

I never thought I’d miss Michael Myers, but his placid white face is oddly comforting! Although I was enjoying a break from his maniacal theme music. In this installment, some idiots are transferring Michael from the mental hospital. On Halloween. During a thunderstorm! This is gonna go great, I can tell. Oh yeah, he and Loomis both survived that pesky hospital explosion. Surprise, surprise.

Now Michael's after his niece Jamie (Danielle Harris)—because at some point between the movies, Laurie had a kid! Mazel! Oh, wait, according to a newspaper clipping, Laurie (supposedly) died in a car accident, and Jamie is being raised by a foster family. Michael's more indiscriminate as a murderer now, but teens who have sex still top the list. I kind of love Rachel (Ellie Cornell), our relatable late-80s heroine and Jamie’s foster sister, but I’m trying not to get too attached. Michael gets riddled with bullets again at the end, but I know he’s still going to call me back. He's going to call me back, right?

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Dangerous white men love a comeback!!! I think I’ve finally figured out the overarching theme here.

Of course my new fave Rachel is among the first to get whacked when Michael resurrects himself… again. (I gather his immortality is drawn from box office receipts.) Little Jamie killed her foster mom at the end of part four and spends half this movie possessed, but we stan a survivor. This little scream queen is scrambling for her life in a tattered and bloody tutu through the boogeyman’s own house!

I can’t believe it’s taken us five installments to get a Halloween house party scene, but I will forgive the lapse because this movie’s requisite “slutty teens” are lured into a barn… for a roll in the hay… by actual kittens. We still don’t know why Michael is such a psycho, but he does show Jamie his face and sheds a single tear. He is briefly captured before escaping. This man just cannot be tied down!

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

NO ONE TOLD ME PAUL RUDD WAS IN THIS MOVIE! Wow. Everyone I’ve ever met is fired. The opening titles claim they’re “introducing” him, but Clueless came out two months earlier, so that is patently false. Rudd plays the little boy Laurie Strode babysat for in the OG Halloween. He’s all grown up, a “13 out of 10” on the weirdness scale, and obsessed with the legend of Michael Myers. I’m thankful that someone finally wants some answers, even though this whole “ancient Druid constellation of evil” thing seems pretty weak.

We’ve gone from babysitting to somehow repeatedly losing track of an actual baby in this movie. (That would be Jamie’s kid—Michael’s grand-niece—his main target in this movie. Also, how are these people growing up and popping out kids so fast?) The murders are getting gruesome AF (A corn thresher! A body in the washing machine!), but fuck it I’m ordering meatballs.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Laurie’s back!!! This movie ignores the previous three installments (fair), and finds Laurie thriving as headmistress of a picturesque California boarding school. The ending of this one seems hard to top. Is there anything more iconic than watching Jamie Lee Curtis chop an evil white man’s head off with an ax?! (Though obviously her murderous brother is somehow still not dead.)

I’m so, so thankful that Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams make it out alive to continue their sweet high school romance. Even LL Cool J somehow survives being mistakenly shot multiple times! Also, Joseph Gordon Levitt pulling a Drew Barrymore in Scream and getting killed in the first five is such a power move. (Side note: I had no idea any of these people were in this movie and am extremely shook!) Lame title aside, this is peak Dimension Films and brought me back to the 90s in the best way. I am numb to bloodshed and eating red sauce with abandon.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Welcome to America’s Next Top Murder Victim: "Trick or Treat, Mothafucka," hosted by Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes! This movie is “whack” as hell. Like, who watched The Blair Witch Project and thought, “Let’s launch an online streaming platform called ‘Danger-tainment,’ shove a bunch of horny teens into Michael Myers’s old house, and livestream all the gruesome murdering!” I think the best part is that the Last Girl Standing (Bianca Kajlich) survives with help from a dude (Ryan Merriman) who catfished her in a Yahoo chat room (!) and helps her escape via Palm Pilot.

Oh, of course we find out at the outset that Laurie (Curtis) beheaded the wrong man in the last movie (damn that mask!) and surprise—Michael's alive. He supposedly, finally, kills her by stabbing and chucking her off a roof, but I already see the lie. Busta leaves Michael fried and tangled in electrical wiring at the end, so obviously, not dead.

Halloween (2007)

This! Is why! I hate! Horror movies! If I didn’t know better, I’d say Rob Zombie, who directed this rehash of the original Halloween, is one sadistic fuck. And not just because little Mikey begins his murder spree in a clown mask. Full disclosure, I managed not to cover my eyes but did eventually mute the incessant primal screaming that constitutes the last 20 minutes of this movie.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that the rocker prefers his coed victims to be topless and in absolute hysterics. This Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) can hardly stop wailing long enough to hide without giving herself up. Oh, and Michael's mom just so happens to be a stripper. I don’t even know what to say about the gratuitous rape scene in the mental hospital. I hate men. And torture porn. I have to retrieve my laundry from the basement and am frankly terrified.

Halloween II (2009)

This movie was really just an excuse for Rob Zombie to dress his wife (Sheri Moon-Zombie, in the role of Laurie’s mom) as an undead snow queen on a white horse. It’s like a 90s slasher music video without the music. I miss the OG Halloween II, when one scalpel prick was enough to kill someone. After Octavia Spencer became the first victim to be brutally hacked to death, I almost turned this right the fuck off. Ditto when grifter Michael... ate a fucking dog (?!). And wouldn’t you know it, Laurie has turned into the platonic ideal of a Rob Zombie fan. Another strip club, another naked victim screaming for mercy. Not even a nonsensical Weird Al cameo can rescue this experience from the trash. I need a tub of cookie dough and a Claws marathon.

Halloween (2018)

Venturing to an actual movie theater to see the new movie is a trip. I shun the sunlight.

So now that I fancy myself something of a franchise purist, I was outraged that this movie is full of lies. They’d have me believe Michael has spent 40 years in captivity after killing five people, when I know full well the dude has repeatedly escaped and slaughtered enough victims to fill Yankee stadium, not to mention been incinerated, beheaded, and electrocuted!! Eh, fuck it. Once I resign myself to the fact that the previous 18 hours of bloodshed I endured was all for naught, and think of this movie a sequel to the first film, it’s nice to see Curtis, as fierce grandma Laurie, kicking ass. (Nevermind the fact that the last time we saw her, she’d been thrown off a roof. Oh, and turns out Michael isn’t really her brother, that was just a “myth.”)

Whatever, at least Laurie has learned a thing or two and become obsessed with installing locks and deadbolts all over her rural bunker of a home. Also, where has Judy Greer been this whole franchise? I am also all about Laurie’s granddaughter (“introducing” Andi Matichak), who seems like she might want to be my friend when all this is over.

Looking back through a nightmarish haze of dismemberment, I couldn't help but wonder…Is Michael Myers the real Mr. Big? The dude basically invented emotional unavailability—he’s a mystery wrapped in expressionless rubber. No matter how many times we seem to get rid of him and burn or decapitate his body, next thing we know he’s back on his bullshit and we can’t get enough. What goes on inside that massive head of his?

By now I know better than to assume our relationship is over. Just when I think I’m happy again, and have finally clawed his freaky theme music from my brain, the prodigal Toxic White Male will be back on my doorstep. This time I’ll be ready.

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.

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<![CDATA[I Went To Every Weed Party I Was Invited To Leading Up to Legalization ]]>, 19 Oct 2018 08:56:48 +0000I’m standing in a cordoned off outdoor area of King Street West in Toronto, nestled in between a poke restaurant and a gym with an intimidatingly fit clientele. There are a few heaters, stacks of firewood, and faux bonfires around which people are seated on wooden benches roasting marshmallows. Servers walk around handing out ingredients for the s'mores, which come in dark, milk, and white chocolate.

Behind me, someone is playing with a set of giant Jenga.

A voice speaking into a microphone says, “It’s not all the time you get to say ‘I live through this moment. I was there when it happened.’ Enjoy it, enjoy being a part of it.”

The voice belongs to Sam Roberts of the Sam Roberts Band—who is playing an acoustic set of classics including Brother Down—and the moment to which he’s referring is Canada’s legalization of recreational weed. Sam Roberts, one of Canada’s biggest acts throughout the aughts, is playing for a room that fits about 50 people.

Sam Roberts rings in legalization. Photo via Fireside Cannabis

You may be thinking, what do Sam Roberts and s'mores have to do with weed? Well, the company behind the event is Fireside Cannabis—a recreational weed brand launched by licensed producer ABcann. It actually took me a little while to find that information, because as of this writing, their website simply says, “Fireside means good moments with good company.”

I’m here as part of mission to explore what the new culture around cannabis is going to be, post-legalization.

Somewhat ironically, it’s boozy.

There’s a bar in the corner of the Fireside event serving free hot chocolate, cider, mulled wine, and dark and stormys.

It’s also clever, and a little sneaky. Due to the deluge of strict regulations set out by various levels of government, cannabis companies have to be pretty creative about how they market their products. One of the main issues is they can’t actually have any weed at their events.

I’m told the three flavours of chocolate for the s'mores represent the three different THC products that will be offered by the brand—FIRESIDE Black: a high THC product; FIRESIDE Red: a medium THC product; and FIRESIDE Gold: a THC/CBD product. There’s swag abound—everyone leaves with a goodie bag that contains a campfire mug, red and black toques, and a bright yellow blanket, all branded with Fireside’s flame logo.

Making s'mores. Photo via author

It all feels very bougie and I can’t help but think of how far we’ve come from the days when I was a teenager in Vancouver, smoking weed in an alleyway beside the movie theatre hoping not to get busted (not that Vancouver was ever super anal about weed.)

As a cannabis reporter, I get bombarded with invitations to parties, many of which on the surface seem to have very little to do with the substance itself. Though things like a night of “energy healing, aura readings, curated crystal sessions” or a “lively lumberjack show” on Toronto Island sound fun, I often end up declining these invites because I’m busy, tired, or just don’t feel up for something promotional. Plus, I hate networking.

But a couple of weeks ago, I changed my mind. I decided to start going to everything I was invited to in an effort to determine how cannabis companies were branding themselves, what kind of money they were spending on marketing, who was in attendance, and mainly: what is the cannabis scene going to look like now that rec weed is legal. The short answer is, there are a lot more options than the hazy, glass bong, stoner culture I grew up around on the West Coast. Whether you’re into “wellness”, hipster campfire vibes, street art, or consider yourself an “influencer” there’s probably a weed company for you.

Here are my observations on this strange new world.

September 26—Cannabis Society Dinner of Influence

On the day I decide to lean into weed events, I’m invited to something called the Cannabis Society Dinner of Influence, hosted by The Cannabis Society.

My invite says the group is “building an exciting community of Cannabis entrepreneurs & enthusiasts locally (Toronto) and internationally” and I’m told I can waive the $99 ticket price by using my first name as a promo code. To get a ticket, I have to fill out what sector I represent, so I choose “social media influencer” because there is no category for journalists, at which point I am prompted to indicate how many followers I have online. It feels a bit weird, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.

Dr. Jonas gives a talk. Photo by James Hunter/The Entrepreneurship Society

The event is being held at Figures restaurant in Yorkville, a part of town that’s way too posh for me to frequent. I arrive at the event, sponsored by licensed producer WeedMD, and immediately start asking people about Ontario’s new policy around cannabis retail shops, which dropped earlier in the day.

Dr. Jonas Vanderzwan, a tall, attractive primary care doctor who is medical director for WeedMD, tells me he’s surprised to learn that of the Progressive Conservative government’s decision to only allow LPs one retail outlet each in the province. Vanderzwan—who people seem to simply refer to as “Dr. Jonas”, like he’s a TV doctor—is placed next to me at dinner. But before we eat, everyone has to go around and say who they are and what they hope to get out of the night. There’s an interesting mix—people who work for LPs, a head shop owner, a patient who travels from New Jersey to Canada just to get medical weed, and a bunch of people who refer to themselves as social media influencers without a shred of irony. Many say they are here because they want to see the stigma around cannabis reduced—the head shop owner, Robin Ellins of the Friendly Stranger, says we should replace the term “cannabis user” with “cannabis consumer” because “user” carries a negative connotation.

When my turn comes, I say that I’m a reporter here for the scoops.

Dr. Jonas hosts a short q + a talking about the challenges surrounding medical weed, including resistance within the medical community and federal government’s strict new laws against impaired driving, which could criminalize patients who medicate daily.

Dinner is a tasty buffet with fried chicken and salmon as main dishes and really fucking good donuts with what tastes like banana cream filling for dessert. There is also an open bar serving palomas.

After dinner, there’s an educational session on edibles, including tips about microdosing. I oblige a request for an on-camera interview about what I took away from the evening, but stop short of posing with WeedMD merch because of obvious reasons.

There’s some time set aside for “deal making” and then myself, organizer Billy Hennessey, and Dr. Jonas head to Patria, a tapas bar on King West, for an after party being held for Elevate, a tech conference taking place in Toronto this week. After some finessing, Billy gets us all in and we chat with one of his friends who seems to have met Wyclef Jean earlier in the day. I down my tequila and leave thinking about how old I feel.

September 27—Mindfulness session by AltaVie Lounge

AltaVie is a “premium cannabis brand designed with the higher-end, wellness-focused consumer in mind.” I learn this from a press release because again their website has no information.

The company is an offering by LP MedReleaf and claims it will have a full roster of strains suited to its wellness-focused consumers in time for legalization. AltaVie invites me to two sessions hosted at its pop-up lounge on Queen West—”a relaxing sound bath led by sound healer and performance artist The Only Alexandria” or a mindfulness session with health coach Julian Brass.

I decide to attend the mindfulness session. I have tried mindfulness and cognitive behaviour therapy in the past to deal with a pain condition, and I hated it. I was just very bad at shutting off my brain and found meditation to be painfully boring. But I absolutely see the value in it, so I am interested in trying it again.

Leaning about AltaVie's strains. Photo by author

I arrive at the lounge, which is serving a variety of teas as well as red and white Jackson-Triggs wine; I gladly down a couple glasses of white, even though I’m a bit surprised that there’s booze at a mindfulness event. The space is bright and earthy, with white walls, plants and plant-themed wallpaper, and a lot of geometric shelves and signage. On the walls, there’s basic information about cannabis, including the differences between THC and CBD, and indica versus sativa.

Upstairs, there are rows of chairs and what I can only describe as pods to sit down on. Each chair has a box of water on it. This is where the mindfulness session with Brass is taking place.

Brass has us start by putting our hands on two strangers and saying, “Congrats you’re awesome for being here.”

He talks about founding, an online lifestyle brand, and about the crippling anxiety that accompanied his success in the startup world.

He’s overwhelmingly positive.

“I believe that we’re all put on this earth to share light and to share love,” he says, noting we can walk away from this session with “life-enhancing” tools.

A pod set up near the mindfulness session. Photo by author

He walks us through several exercises involving breathing, concentration, and at one point asks us to look into a partner’s eyes. He tells us we can use anxiety as a tool, if we learn to master it, but seems to imply that we’re weak if we are unable to do that. It strikes me as a questionable theory and I want to challenge it but I also want to leave.

I’m getting antsy. I have to attend a Halloween party at Casa Loma right after and I’m thinking about what time I have to get there. To distract myself, I down three cartons of the free water. I pee and check my makeup. Then, before the session is over, I excuse myself. I get downstairs and down one more glass of wine before rushing off. I guess I still haven’t figured out mindfulness.

September 29—RIFF presents NOIR, a Nuit Blanche party

RIFF is a cannabis brand that falls under the LP Aphria. It describes itself as a “lifestyle x cannabis brand co-created by the Co.LAB, a collective of creators and artists who love a good joint effort.”

I’m invited to a party for Nuit Blanche, an annual event in Toronto during which art installations are set all over the city and people explore them/party all night.

The party is held at a venue on Ossington Avenue called Coterie, that has an industrial, converted-garage feel to it. As always, there’s free booze. There are artists finishing up large scale street art depicting things like a primate skeleton on the walls. I’m into the vibe but to be honest, I’m already pretty buzzed when I arrive, having dipped into a Harry Potter-themed bar just before. So I end up having a long conversation with a couple of the organizers about what tattoo I should get next. After getting their advice, I down a beer and leave.

One of the pieces from RIFF's Nuit Blanche party. Photo via RIFF

It’s a bit of a shame because I actually feel like this brand is most in line with my personal taste. It feels cool but not pretentious.

October 2—Launch of Vapium's LITE vaporizer

Finally! A launch for a product where you can actually see and touch the product! This event, held in a space on the east end of the city, is for a new ceramic vaporizer from Vapium, a Canadian company that purportedly sells the “iPhone” of vapes in 20 countries. The Lite, a portable vape, is for dried bud and costs $100.

There are also a couple other products on display including a medical grade vaporizer—with versions for bud and extract—and a $350 dab rig that looks like it came straight out of Silicon Valley.

Vapium's new LITE vaporizer. Photo via Vapium

Lining the staircase that leads upstairs are framed accolades for Vapium’s products from outlets like GQ, Maxim, and The Cannabist. Promotional videos featuring vaporizers in outdoor settings play on screens.

The snacks—Korean spring rolls, crostini, mac and cheese balls—are my favourite of all the parties I’ve attended so far. There’s also free wine but I decline because I feel sorry for my body. Vapium co-founder Lisa Harun, who runs the company with her husband, is fun to chat with—you can tell she’s savvy af, but she’s also not overly serious. She warns me not to pull an “Irish goodbye”—which I lowkey was considering—because every guest is getting a free Vapium Lite.

Tummy full, I collect my vape and leave. So far I have no complaints with it.

October 11—FIRESIDE Lodge pop-up

I went into pretty great detail about this event already so all I will add is that I can’t stop listening to Sam Roberts now.

October 16—Leafly Bud Drop

It’s the eve of legalization and I am tired. My inbox is flooded with pitches, I’m stressed about the stories I have to file, and boxes of weed swag are piling over at my desk. But I decide to rally for one last event, Leafly’s Bud Drop party, which is like New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but it’s held at the Mod Club in Toronto and instead of a ball, a giant bud sculpture descends from the ceiling at midnight.

I show up as cover band Dwayne Gretzky is playing Bobcaygeon by the Tragically Hip, which is even more Canadian than the Sam Roberts bonfire party. I am surprised that something can be more Canadian than a Sam Roberts bonfire party.

The bud dropped at midnight. Jesse Milns/Leafly

I actually arrive just before midnight, and my eye is immediately drawn to the giant green bud of cannabis dangling from the ceiling. It’s oddly beautiful—it looks like there is backlit glass woven into it. There’s weed trivia playing on screens around me.

“We have 10 more minutes of being criminals everybody,” shouts someone from the band. In my head, I’m thinking technically there is no legal recreational weed available in Ontario at midnight so everyone blazing—aside from medical patients—will still be doing so illegally. But no one wants to hear that shit.

The crowd is eclectic. I’m on a platform to the right of the stage and an older woman is rocking out hard next to a man in brown overalls. I easily make my way to the front because people are baked and the crowd is not even remotely aggressive. The ball drops as the band plays Wake Up by Arcade Fire and even though I’m tired, the energy from everyone around me in that moment is a little infectious. I post a sick Insta story.

I haul ass into a corner and log onto the Ontario Cannabis Store to order a couple grams of Indica and check out how well the site is functioning. Then I leave. On the sidewalk outside, I run into Jonathan Hirsh, a cannabis educator. He is doing a dab of rosin because he brought his dab rig with him. “Merry Weedmas!” he says to his friend.

It even has the little hairs. Jesse Milns/Leafly

I chat with him for a bit and then grab an Uber home, relieved that I’m done with my seemingly endless foray into Big Weed parties. Until I realize that when I wake up it’ll be “C-Day” and I have four more celebrations to attend, including a party by VICE and Tweed at the Drake.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.

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This article originally appeared on VICE CA.

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<![CDATA[Get Up to Speed On the UK's New Approach to Various Drugs ]]>, 19 Oct 2018 08:30:00 +0000Before this autumn's Conservative Party conference, Home Secretary Sajid Javid took aim at the middle-class drug users he considers significantly responsible for increased street violence in the UK. In a speech, Javid committed to a review on drug use while also prompting the heckles of drugs reformers by stating, "You are not innocent – no one is innocent if they are taking illegal drugs."

It was the conclusion to a topsy-turvy summer for drugs in the Home Office. On the one hand, there's been seemingly significant landmarks: the legalisation of medicinal cannabis for certain conditions and increasing acceptance of drug-testing at festivals. On the other, it seems there's little appetite to end the Sisyphean shit-show we call the War on Drugs.

So, is Javid just playing politics, or are there signs we're actually living in a progressive era for drug policy? I called some experts and spoke to them about all the biggies, to find out, then ranked the recent actions out of ten.


girl smoking weed

Back in July, following an emotive campaign led by the families of Billy Caldwell, 12, and Alfie Dingley, six, Javid said that medicinal cannabis would be available on prescription to "help patients with an exceptional clinical need". A summer of inactivity helped foster suspicion that it was just a grab for popular opinion, until last week, when the Home Office confirmed the rescheduling of weed to Schedule 2 under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations Act (2001), opening it up to patients with conditions like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cancer from the 1st of November. But is it enough?

"If you look at all recent cannabis movements, they take time," says Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at the Public Health Institute. "This is a brand new system, and the guidance needs to be produced so that, when it's introduced, we get it right."

While the Home Office themselves told VICE that they "have no intention of legalising the recreational use of cannabis", in countries like Canada and Uruguay, a regulated recreational market followed medical access. "Public opinion seems behind public access to it," says Sumnall. "This is highly speculative, but could be a sign that the government is providing a lens through which they can analyse whether there's public acceptability for further changes in the future."



girl sniffing cocaine

Javid's comments regarding middle class drug-takers inspired a collective eye-roll from virtually everyone but the Mail Online readers it was clearly aimed to impress. "No one is going to put their head above the parapet and stick up for these so-called middle class cocaine users, so it's a very easy target," says Henry Fisher, drugs campaigner and Senior Chemist at The Loop. "It's easy to show he [Javid] is in control, law and order wise."

Although, in principle, any review aimed at enhancing our knowledge of drug use should be encouraged, Javid's aims are fraught with roadblocks: notably the fact that, while households earning over £50,000 had the highest percentage (3.45 percent) of cocaine use, these only comprise 5.4 million households out of 27 million in the UK. What Javid didn't say was that 3.6 percent of unemployed people had used cocaine in 2017/18, as had 2 percent of households with under £10,000 income, and 2.1 percent of people in households earning £10,000 to £20,000.

More pertinently: cocaine is far from the worst offender when it comes to inspiring the trouble Javid is trying to avert. "Powder cocaine is involved in some of the problem with violence and county lines," says Sumnall, "but most of the violence is around crack and heroin, and always has been. This is just a distraction."



There was notable approval in July when Nick Hurd, Minister of State at the Home Office, said the government wouldn't "stand in the way" of local police constabularies that want to approve festival drugs testing, as pioneered by The Loop for the last two summers.

After request for comment, the Home Office reiterated that "chief constables are responsible for operational decisions in their local area and we are not standing in their way". Henry Fisher says the next step in legitimising their work is publishing some evidence-based data that proves the testing's effectiveness at decreasing drug-related harms.

"We’re hoping to publish this in the next six months," Fisher says.



Drug deaths in the UK remain at record levels, with 3,756 reported in 2017 by the Office for National Statistics. Heroin and morphine comprised 1,164 of these, while fentanyl deaths rose 29 percent, from 58 in 2016 to 75 in 2017.

Despite previous advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which suggested that consideration should be given to consumption rooms where users can inject safely under supervision and gain access to support, the Home Office told VICE: "There is no legal framework for the provision of Drug Consumption Rooms in the UK and we have no plans to introduce them."

Consumptions rooms are not a silver bullet by themselves, but there are many proven benefits – and Harry Sumnall says there's reason for tentative hope. "I think members of the police force have been increasingly looking at things through a public health lens," he explains. "There's an increasing understanding of why someone ends up injecting heroin in a back street. Our compassion and understanding in terms of reaching top politicians has only gone so far, but on the ground I think we're seeing evidence of improvement."



Spice – a catch-all brand name for the synthetic cannabinoids that were made illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act (2016) – has been the subject of stigmatising headlines in the press, generally focusing on the behaviour of so-called "Spice zombies".

The drug is currently classified as a class B drug and, earlier this year, a collection of Conservative crime and police commissioners (PCC) wrote an open letter recommending it be upgraded to class A. So far, the Home Office has resisted this request. They told VICE that "following two previous changes to legislation, the most recent controls for 'third generation' synthetic cannabinoids only came into effect in December 2016. However, as with all controlled drugs we will continue to monitor their impact."

The usefulness of upgrading Spice's classification seems pretty opaque, and, like so many aspects of the war on drugs, avoids the complex mental and socio-economic problems that have come to characterise the average Spice abuser. "Increasing [the class of] Spice is not going to confront these issues," says Sumnall. "To be fair, the PCC did acknowledge this in their letter, but the headlines and discussion tends to be around this class A thing because that will send a message. But sending a message doesn't tend to help the most vulnerable people."



wj9yvwDavid HillierJamie CliftonukCannabisOpiatesSPICEhome officedrug policy
<![CDATA[Canada Is Already Experiencing Cannabis Shortages]]>, 19 Oct 2018 08:10:00 +0000Canadians loved their legal weed so much that many stores ran out of stock of the first day of legalized cannabis and no one is sure when the shortages will end.

Across the country, smokers of all pedigrees (including one brilliant dude named Tim) either logged onto a website or waited for hours outside a store to get their hands on some legal weed. We all knew the demand was going to be great and anticipating this many stores, both of the online and brick and mortar variety, stocked up on everything from bongs to pre-rolled doinks.

The thing was, in many places, that just wasn’t enough.

The provincial belle of the legalization ball, Newfoundland and Labrador, had several stores that had to stop sales because they ran out of product. One store owner, who the gods must be laughing at, said out of all goddamn times they somehow ran out of weed at 4:20.

It’s not something he’s very happy about.

"I'm a little shocked that I sold out so fast, and also very upset that I don't have product for everybody,” Thomas Clarke, who runs THC Distribution in Portugal Cove-St Philip’s, told the CBC. “I'm letting down a lot of people here and I was assured that if I paid for the cannabis I would receive it."

Clarke told CBC he didn’t get the full supply he ordered from his producer, so he was starting out with low stock. This isn’t a unique problem, other stores have similarly sold out across the province and the country.

In Quebec, customers waited for hours in lines to get into the store but many were sent home without being served; even if they did get in, they found a limited supply. One disappointed customer told the Montreal Gazette, “for me, the score is: black market, 1; government, zero.” Moving west to Saskatchewan—where no stores opened in their major cities—some stores simply didn’t open on October 17 because they just couldn’t get enough supply on time. Turning our eyes north to the Northwest Territories, the only store selling weed in Yellowknife ran out of supply before the end of Wednesday.


Perhaps the biggest snafus occurred on the incredibly busy online stores, which were the primary options for the majority of consumers in the country—especially those in Ontario, Nunavut, and BC. Customers of the online stores were hit with glitches, sold out products, and at times, the websites failed.

In Ontario, the online store offerings slowly got smaller and smaller as more products sold out—within hours only one product grown by the country’s largest producer was available. In British Columbia, the weed province, within minutes of opening their online stores sold out of the cheapest bud it was offering, and by the morning most of its product was gone. The website in Nunavut crashed several times throughout the day and by the time it was up and running for most customers, its stock was sold out.

One company in Winnipeg sold out completely online in the early morning, selling $50,000 worth of product by the time they were done. The province of Alberta sold out of cannabis oil. Only limited products were available in some Nova Scotia stores. The examples go on and on.

What’s more is that the rotating strike by Canada Post has been affecting some deliveries of the online purchases. Wheee!

The situation isn’t the most surprising, as a shortage was forecast by those monitoring the industry. In a study released earlier this month, researchers at the University of Waterloo and the C.D. Howe Institute found that while Canada could supply around 210 tonnes of the good stuff, but the demand would be around 610. One producer actually acknowledged to the Globe and Mail that they’re “not meeting expectations.”

Many stores are expecting to get in a shipment of legal bud they can sell before the weekend hits. At the end of it though, we must remember, this was day one of us turning a formerly illegal substance legal so we can’t complain too, too much.

Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter

This article originally appeared on VICE CA.

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