Pubdate: Thu, 19 Oct 2017
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Dean Bennett
Page: B2


The health implications of legalized cannabis and ways to combat
Canada's rising opioid problem are on the agenda when health ministers
meet this week in the Alberta capital.

Provincial and territorial ministers will hold discussions today and
will get an update on the marijuana file from federal counterpart
Ginette Petipas Taylor on Friday.

Manitoba Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen says he wants to know more
about the impacts on health and on the health system.

"Many studies show that people are affected by the consumption of
marijuana up until the age of 25 because there can be long-term
effects if the brain is still developing up until that age," said Goertzen.

"We have concerns from a health perspective - what additional costs
does that cause to the system and what negative outcomes does it cause
to Canadians?"

Ottawa has set the minimum legal age for marijuana consumption at 18
when recreational cannabis use becomes legal July 1. The provinces can
set the minimum age higher.

"We've done a great deal in society trying to move people away from
smoking. If you suddenly have more people smoking, in this case
marijuana, you're going to have some long-term detriment to people's
health," said Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter.

"There's the issue about at what point is it safer for

The Canadian Medical Association says 25 is the safe age health-wise
but says 21 would be a more realistic number to keep youth from
getting cannabis through the black market.

A number of provinces already have preliminary plans in place. Ottawa
and New Brunswick are looking at a minimum age of 19, while Alberta is
proposing 18.

The federal government is getting push back on what critics say is too
ambitious a plan to have legalized cannabis, along with tougher
Criminal Code penalties and sanctions, in place by next summer.

In July, premiers and territorial leaders did not call for a delay,
but said they might ask for an extension if Ottawa does not help them
resolve the issues related to distribution, safety, taxation, justice
and public education.

Ottawa has said it won't allow the sale of edible cannabis until it
has rules in place around health warnings, serving sizes and packaging.

The ministers also plan to compare notes on how various jurisdictions
are working to combat the increased use of opioids.

Last month, the federal government reported that at least 2,816
Canadians died from opioid-related causes in 2016.
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MAP posted-by: Matt