New Brunswick

Marijuana task force in the works: federal health minister

Federal health minister Jane Philpott says the Trudeau government is about to announce a new task force that will advise the government on its plan to legalize marijuana.

Jane Philpott, speaking in Saint John, says government will announce task force to prepare for legalizing pot

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott says the Trudeau government is setting up a marijuana task force. (CBC)

Federal health minister Jane Philpott says the Trudeau government is about to announce a new task force that will advise the government on its plan to legalize marijuana.

Philpott, in the province to speak at the Canadian Nurses Association conference in Saint John, said marijuana is a "complex file" and the task force will have representatives from her department as well as from the Justice and Public Safety departments.
Philpott also emphasized the federal government's commitment to address the needs of Canada's aging population. (CBC)

"The task force will have ... experts in the field who will advise us," she said.

The challenge is to keep marijuana out of the hands of kids, Philpott said, and keep the profits out of the pockets of criminals.

"To do that we need a regulatory system. We need to restrict access and ... have a public health lens on the whole system so we maximize education and minimize harm."

The federal government has said legislation to legalize marijuana will be ready in a year.  

The health minister pointed to public education programs over the last couple of decades that she says have been successful in educating people about the danger of drinking while pregnant.

Those kinds of campaigns need to be looked at for marijuana, so that everyone will understand "the potential risks as well as the potential benefits," she said.

$3B for home care 

Philpott also took time while in Saint John to tout the government's commitment to spend $3 billion "to address the needs of an aging population" and improve home care services, though she was short on the specifics of how and when that money would be spent.

"I've talked to my colleagues about some of the investments that we will do around around the new health accord, including our home care and that may be ... used to support palliative care," said Philpott.

Philpott, who is a family physician, also spoke about the government's controversial assisted dying legislation, which received royal assent on Friday. 

"We found the right balance," said Philpott.

"I believe that it is fully constitutional."