Pubdate: Sun, 02 Aug 2015
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2015 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Morgan Lowrie
Page: A2


Health Minister Rona Ambrose ordered a crackdown on groups that 
illegally advertise marijuana and restated the Conservative party's 
pledge to keep storefront dispensaries illegal Saturday on the eve of 
the expected launch of a federal election campaign.

"Today I directed Health Canada to create a task force to crack down 
on illegal marijuana advertising," Ambrose said in a statement.

"This task force will ensure that those who engage in such illegal 
activities are stopped, and should these illegal activities continue, 
promptly referred to law enforcement."

Health Canada issued a statement saying it will begin actively 
monitoring marijuana advertising instead of acting mostly on the 
basis of complaints.

Under current law, only regulated parties such as licenced producers 
are allowed to advertise basic, non-promotional information.

Ambrose's pre-campaign statement made multiple references to Liberal 
Leader Justin Trudeau and described his stance on marijuana as "irresponsible."

"While Justin Trudeau wants to legalize marijuana making it easier 
for youth to buy and smoke, this Conservative Government does not 
support making access to illegal drugs easier," she said.

Although medical marijuana can be legally obtained with a 
prescription, the Conservative government has made no secret of the 
fact that it disapproves.

"The Government of Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, but 
the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of 
marijuana when authorized by a healthcare practitioner," Health 
Canada's statement read.

Ambrose has been especially vocal on the issue, saying marijuana has 
not been proven safe nor effective as a medicine.

She rebuked the City of Vancouver in June for its decision to 
regulate the dozens of marijuana dispensaries that have flourished 
despite laws preventing pot from being sold online or in storefronts.

Ambrose said she ordered a more proactive approach to enforcing the 
advertising rules due to the rise of such dispensaries in cities across Canada.

"Dispensaries, whether they are online or a store-front, are illegal 
and they should not be allowed to advertise these illegal services," she wrote.

Marijuana advocate Jodie Emery said the government's opposition to 
advertising marijuana was based on "an ideological . . . rather than 
a scientifically health-based approach."

She said the strict ban on advertising did a disservice to Canadians 
who wish to inform themselves.

"Many patients, especially seniors in Canada's aging population need 
information about marijuana and medical marijuana," she told The 
Canadian Press.

"It prevents the ability of Canadians to get information that they 
are interested in and require."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom