Pubdate: Thu, 19 May 2016
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Page: A4
Copyright: 2016 Chatham Daily News
Author: Paul Morden
Note: with files from Postmedia Network


Public Health Issues Raised Over Coming Federal Marijuana

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said some southwestern Ontario city mayors
believe municipalities should receive a cut of the federal
government's income from legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana.

He made those comments as a standing committee of Lambton County
passed a motion Wednesday asking county council to support a call by
the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit for the federal government to
consider public health issues as it moves to legalize marijuana use.

The Liberal government in Ottawa has said it will introduce
legislation in spring 2017 to legalize recreational marijuana.

Bradley said the impact that it will have on municipalities was one of
the issues discussed when a group of southwestern Ontario mayors met a
month ago.

One of the points of discussion at that mayors' meeting was also that
there "should be some revenue sharing with the municipalities, because
we will have to deal directly in our communities with any issues that
result from it."

Bradley compared the marijuana issue to the successful campaign waged
by municipalities to receive a share of income from casinos within
their boundaries.

He said recreational marijuana will be "a cash cow" for senior
governments, but the "social impacts" will be felt by

Andrew Taylor, general manager of the county's public health services
division, said legalizing of recreational marijuana is an issue
Lambton should be concerned about.

He pointed to a report from 2012-13 that found more than 43 per cent
of Lambton residents, age 15 and older, reported using cannabis at
least once in their lifetime.

"The public health concern about this issue is that there is some
framework of control," Taylor said.

That includes taking into account the impact cannabis use has on
impaired driving, brain development in youth, pregnancy and the risk
of dependence, he said.

"We do want to be involved in the dialogue, as a regulatory framework
is explored around cannabis," Taylor said.

The letter from the Simcoe public health office points to a position
taken by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health calling for a
government monopoly on sales of marijuana, limits on hours of its sale
and the setting of a minimum age for buyers.

It also calls for enhanced treatment, more spending on education and
prevention, and restrictions on high-potency formulations and products
designed to appeal to young people.

In April, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott said the new Canadian
law will ensure marijuana is kept away from children and will keep
criminals from profiting from its sale.

- - With files from Postmedia Network 
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