Pubdate: Tue, 19 Aug 2014
Source: Telegram, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2014 The Telegram
Author: Lee-Anne Goodman
Page: A11


Health Minister Rona Ambrose is denying that the federal government's 
proposed marijuana awareness campaign is aimed at Justin Trudeau.

"Telling kids to not smoke pot is not a partisan attack on Justin 
Trudeau by Health Canada," Ambrose told a news conference Monday on 
the sidelines of the annual Canadian Medical Association meeting.

"It is a sound public health policy backed by science. Whether pot is 
legal or illegal, the health risks of marijuana to youth remain the 
same, and we should all be concerned about them."

It was Trudeau who "made this a political issue," Ambrose said, 
noting the CMA itself had asked for a marijuana awareness campaign, 
and Ottawa simply responded to that call.

The Liberal leader lashed out at Conservatives last week over reports 
that Health Canada has approached three doctors' groups to sign onto 
an anti-pot advertising campaign directed at youth.

All three - the CMA, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and 
the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada - have 
declined to participate, saying the campaign has become a "political football."

It's not the first Health Canada marijuana awareness campaign aimed 
at young Canadians. The so-called Drugs Not 4 Me campaign launched in 
December 2007 and wrapped up in 2012.

Trudeau, however, has suggested the Health Canada move was meant as 
an attack on his support for legalizing marijuana. The proposed 
campaign came on the heels of several Conservative cabinet ministers, 
including Peter MacKay and Julian Fantino, publicly maligning Trudeau's stance.

"We know that Canadian taxpayers are getting extremely frustrated 
with the fact this government tends to use public money for ads that 
do more for its partisan aims than for actual public service," Trudeau said.

The health minister also weighed in Monday on the heated debate over 
medical marijuana, saying Canada's doctors should not feel pressured 
into prescribing it.

"Health Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, nor is it an 
approved drug in this country, nor has it gone through any of the 
clinical trials that other pharmaceutical products that are approved 
in this country have gone through," she said.

"The majority of the physician community do not want to prescribe it; 
they don't want to be put in a situation where they're pressured to 
prescribe it and I encourage them to not prescribe it if they're not 
comfortable with it."

The CMA has said Canadian doctors are in a "untenable" position on 
medical marijuana. Louis Hugo Francescutti, the organization's 
outgoing president, suggested recently that many people seeking 
medical weed are simply looking to get legally high.

On Monday, Francescutti said marijuana has not been subjected to the 
same type of clinical trials that every other drug has. That's a 
state of affairs that makes doctors uncomfortable, he added.
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