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Canada’s Health Minister Studying Marijuana Legalization Models

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Canada’s brand new top health official is actively looking into the best way for the country to legalize marijuana.

Minister of Health Jane Philpott, who assumed office a little more than three weeks ago, told the CBC that government scientists are already briefing her on possible legal regulations for cannabis.

“The world is going to be looking to Canada to make sure we do the job well,” she said.

Even though the government doesn’t yet know all the details of how it wants to regulate marijuana, Philpott didn’t hesitate to harshly criticize the current prohibition model.

“I think if any of your viewers, if they ask their teenage children, they can verify for them that [marijuana]is far too accessible. And obviously there’s issues around safety and concentrations that are available in certain products are very dangerous,” she said. “Often the products are not pure, and that’s something that’s a serious health concern for us.”

The health minister told CBC that in order to craft the best possible regulations for cannabis, the government will convene a task force of experts who can apply prior experience with other legal products like tobacco.

Earlier this month, newly sworn-in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directed Philpott and two other cabinet officials, the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness and the minister of justice, to begin working together to craft a plan to legally regulate marijuana.

Trudeau’s Liberal Party, which won a strong majority in last month’s federal elections, included support for legalization in its official platform. During the campaign, Trudeau pledged to begin work on ending prohibition “right away” if elected.

The Conservative Party, which ruled Canada for nearly a decade prior to the election, regularly attacked Trudeau’s legalization plans during the campaign but declined to respond to a request for comment from CBC about the new government’s moves.

Philpott is confident her department will have the public support it needs to craft and implement an effective marijuana policy. “Most thoughtful Canadians recognize that the current system isn’t working and they’re looking to us to make sure we make a wise decision,” she said.

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