April 20, 2017 2:58 pm

Quebec ministers creating ‘false’ arguments about marijuana bill: Jane Philpott

As marijuana legalization looms, experts are trying to figure out how to deal with stoned drivers.

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In an open letter to La Presse, federal health minister Jane Philpott accused her counterparts in Quebec of creating “false” arguments when it comes to the Trudeau government’s bill to legalize marijuana across the country.

READ MORE: Debate growing over drivers high on marijuana

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“In the last few days, [health minister Gaétan] Barrette and [public health minister Lucie] Charlebois have said that the federal government aims to relinquish responsibility to the provinces. This is simply not true,” Philpott wrote to the French-language newspaper.

“This legislation isn’t meant to be a burden, but a way to protect our youth.”

Quebec’s public health minister noted that the legislation does not include details about the role provinces are expected to play  in managing the price, distribution and selling of the product.

She argued these new responsibilities require additional federal funding to the provinces.

READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know about proposed law

Despite Philpott insisting Ottawa isn’t planning to place any kind of burden on the provinces, Charlebois told The Canadian Press that the federal government’s approach is “laughable.”

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She argued the legalization of marijuana would actually put more pressure on the provinces without any additional funding.

Philpott disputed that claim, saying “yes, the provinces will have to adopt regulations and make decisions about distribution, but they are already living with the consequences of the current situation.”

READ MORE: Nine questions Parliament will have to answer before we legalize marijuana

In her letter, Philpott also points out that: “After almost 100 years of prohibition, our young people are the biggest group of consumers of cannabis in the world.”

“They turn to the black market, which is increasingly being linked to organized crime,” she wrote.

Quebec said it may create its own legislation in addition to the federal bill.

READ MORE: Federal legislation on legalizing marijuana unveiled

Canada’s marijuana legalization bill, introduced in the House of Commons last week, has not been well received in Quebec.

Premier Philippe Couillard and several cabinet ministers complained it imposed more responsibility on the provinces without the funding to support them.

— with files from The Canadian Press.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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