Pubdate: Tue, 28 Mar 2017
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 North Bay Nugget
Author: Hank Daniszewski
Page: A5


'No product is without risk,' health minister says

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott was in London on Monday to sell
the federal budget, but she found herself defending her government's
plans to legalize marijuana.

Speaking at Fanshawe College after media reports said the Liberals
plan to introduce legislation in two weeks, Philpott said "no product
is without risk."

She noted tobacco and alcohol are legal although both pose serious
health risks.

"No one is proposing we go back to Prohibition. . . Just because a
product is legal it does not mean it is advisable or recommended to
use that product," said the former family physician and Western
University medical graduate.

Media reports said the bill legalizing marijuana could be introduced
the week of April 10.

Philpott was asked why the government may allow sales of pot to people
as young as 18 when some medical studies have found it can affect
brain function of users up to 25 years of age.

She said young adult Canadians already have one of the highest rates
of marijuana use in the world. "This will legalize access to cannabis
but at the same will regulate and control access. . . We want to make
sure the profits are kept out of the hands of criminal

Philpott said the federal government will work with provinces to
ensure access to pot is restricted to adults and that the public is
made aware of health risks, similar to programs in place for alcohol
and tobacco.

But after a wave of police busts at marijuana dispensaries in London
and other cities, Philpott also made it clear that the government
would continue to enforce current laws.

"Apart from access for medical users, it (marijuana) is not legal and
the laws will remain in place until the law changes," she said.

Philpott said there is a need for more study on pot but she was
skeptical of claims it is a "gateway" to the use of stronger drugs.

"There is a broad base of scientific evidence that suggests that the
'gateway' theories are not accurate. We need to make sure we stick to
the science."

Philpott and London Liberal MPs Kate Young and Peter Fragiskatos were
at Fanshawe to sell the benefits of the recent federal budget.

Philpott said the budget includes grants promoting "life-long
learning," including grants to part-time students and students with
children allowing them to go back to school and upgrade their skills
for a better job.

Fanshawe president Peter Devlin said last year the first-year class of
9,900 included 5,200 who had been out of school for at least a year.
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MAP posted-by: Matt