Pubdate: Tue, 09 May 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Anam Latif
Page: B3


WATERLOO - It's a bold new world, Anne McLellan told a crowd of people
at University of Waterloo on Monday. It's a world where marijuana will
soon be legal.

"It's a world we have to get used to," she said. "We have to come to
grips with the psychology of this change."

The former federal justice minister and deputy prime minister chaired
the federal government's task force on the legalization and regulation
of cannabis. It released a report with 80 recommendations.

Legalization has been a controversial piece of legislation that has
sparked conversations about how the government plans to move toward
regulating cannabis.

"The last time a society went through this change was with prohibition
of alcohol and none of us were alive," McLellan said at the public
lecture hosted by UW's school of public health and health systems.

"This has a complexity level that we have not seen in a long

The task force had three main motivations as it conducted its work
across Canada over the course of five months, McLellan said.

The first was to ensure it took a cautionary approach to regulatory

The second was to look at ways to protect minors and the third was to
look at public safety.

"We need so much more information around use," she noted. "What is
responsible use?"

She pointed to the need to not "over-criminalize" users but to also
deter illegal sales, especially to minors.

"There is no established blueprint. Everybody is watching Canada," she

While McLellan noted that 60 per cent of Canadians have said they
supported the new legislation, she knows there are many different
opinions out there.

She acknowledged the task force's recommendation to set a national
legal age of 18 for cannabis purchases has been a controversial one.

"We let them sign up to serve their country. … We let them vote for
the highest offices in the land," she said, noting the age of 18 is a
social marker of adulthood.

Liana Nolan, medical officer of health at Region of Waterloo public
health, and a few other panellists from the community also shared
their perspectives on the impending legalization of marijuana.

"From a harm reduction point of view, what you want to do is balance
access," Nolan said.

She said there will be a lot to learn from a public health
perspective. It's been a difficult substance to study because it has
been illegal, she said.

Chris Perlman, a professor at UW's School of Public Health, shared
that sentiment. He said the relationship between mental health and
marijuana is complex and not well known. Legalization can help change

"We can work to try and better understand that relationship."
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