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Two people hold a modified design of the Canadian flag with a marijuana leaf in place of the maple leaf during the "420 Toronto" rally in Toronto, April 20, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

The road to marijuana legalization begins

The Liberals are tabling their marijuana legislation today, as they look to legalize the drug by Canada Day of 2018. But a slew of obstacles still remain: The federal government will need to work with the Senate, the provinces and the U.S. government in order to turn the bill into a reality. One point of contention is how police should test for and enforce cases of drug-impaired driving. Another question is how the drug will be sold to adults; not all provinces are expected to want the same approach. Ottawa might create a temporary distribution system for Canadians who live in regions that may not have a sales approach in place when it's legalized.

Meanwhile, a former Liberal minister whose work on a federal task force helped shape the bill is being scrutinized for her ties to the marijuana industry. Anne McLellan is a senior adviser at a law practice that promotes itself as the "go-to" firm in the marijuana sector.

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Russia is back into the centre of international attention

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday, but any sort of consensus on the Syrian conflict still seems like a distant hope. Regardless, the real winner here is Putin, Mark MacKinnon writes. His goal has long been "to see his country treated with the same respect the Soviet Union received during the Cold War, when it was acknowledged as an indispensable player on the international stage." Putin's actions in Syria have helped Russia achieve just that.

Poloz issues warning about real estate speculation in Toronto

Real estate speculation in the Toronto market is "unsustainable," Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said yesterday. Investor interest is fuelling the rise in prices, he said. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne echoed his concerns: "I'm really concerned about the sustainability of the kinds of increases that we have been seeing," she said. "I think that there is a real risk of a sharp correction that we don't want to see." The Ontario Liberals have promised to implement new policies aimed at cooling the housing market.

NHL playoffs kick off

Canadian teams got off to rough starts in the first day of NHL playoff action. The Montreal Canadiens couldn't muster a goal in their game against the New York Rangers, losing 2-0. And the Ottawa Senators applied the pressure over the first two periods but only managed one goal as they fell to the Boston Bruins by a score of 2-1. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers lost to the San Jose Sharks in the team's first playoff game since 2006.

MORNING MARKETS

The U.S. dollar and Treasury yields are tumbling on Thursday in the wake of President Donald Trump saying Wednesday that the greenback is "getting too strong" and that he would like to see interest rates stay low.  Tokyo's Nikkei lost 0.7 per cent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng 0.2 per cent, while the Shanghai composite gained 0.1 per cent. In Europe, London's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.4 and 0.6 per cent by about 5:45 a.m. (ET). New York futures were also down. Oil prices fell on concerns about rising U.S. output. Gold pared earlier gains but hovered near a five-month high hit earlier in the session.

WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

The agony, ecstasy and agony of supporting Canada's NHL teams

"Two years ago in this space we celebrated the fact that five Canadian teams made the NHL playoffs. One year ago, we were commiserating with readers because zero Canadian teams made it. And now here we are a year later, and there are five of our teams competing for the Stanley Cup. From ecstasy to agony to ecstasy in two years. … At the end of the day, measuring the health of our game by the number of Canadian teams in the post-season is misguided. It'll give you emotional whiplash. But there's this consolation: On some perfect nights in April and May, in arenas across the continent, the NHL's financial games can be temporarily forgotten and even forgiven, transcended by the joy of the game itself." – Globe editorial

Adult supervision returns to U.S. foreign policy

"The signals on Syria coming out of the administration since last week's strike have been anything but clear. Trump insisted on Tuesday that 'we're not going into Syria,' but did not rule out further strikes on Bashar al-Assad's regime. Further U.S. action remains a known unknown. Still, it's good to know that U.S. foreign-policy making is now back in adult hands; that Stephen Bannon has been sidelined; that the Secretary of State has the number of Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, instead of being played for a fool by both, as was John Kerry who, echoing his boss at the time, bragged that 'we got 100 per cent of the chemical weapons out' of Syria." – Konrad Yakabuski

HEALTH PRIMER

What Canada's doctors are concerned about ahead of marijuana legalization

As marijuana legalization looms, some Canadian doctors are expressing concerns about potential health consequences. There is evidence of long-term brain damage for teenagers who smoke pot. There's also the impact cannabis has on your lungs, though the jury is still out on whether pot-smoking causes lung cancer. Addiction and mental illness are other areas doctors are keeping an eye on. So far, a lot of the research on possible negative impacts of pot use has focused on heavy users.

MOMENT IN TIME

Former major-league pitcher dies in freak accident

April 13, 2009: Mark Fidrych generated more buzz during his 58 major-league games than most players could hope to in an entire career. A right-handed pitcher, Fidrych became the talk of baseball not long after he joined the Detroit Tigers at 21. Nicknamed The Bird – with his memorable golden curls, he resembled the Sesame Street character Big Bird – he became an instant star in the 1976 season. He won the American League rookie-of-the-year award for his 19-9 record and 2.34 earned-run average and was runner-up for the Cy Young Award. But Fidrych could not sustain his overnight success. By 1981, The Bird's major-league career was over because of injuries. Still a young man at age 28, he returned home to Massachusetts, bought a dump truck and went back to work. On this day in 2009, he died of asphyxiation after his clothing became entangled in a spinning component of a truck's undercarriage. His death was ruled an accident. He was 54. – Jamie Ross

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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