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article imageCanada polarized over pot use

By Franklin Stover     Aug 21, 2014 in Politics
Rona Ambrose is Canada's Minister of Health and proponent of an anti-drug campaign which has become difficult for many physicians to join forces with.
While a $5 million dollar government sponsored anti-drug campaign is scheduled to be unveiled in the fall, others, like Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party, have a different vision, especially as it pertains to marijuana. Inspired by the legalization of weed in Colorado and Washington, Trudeau said that Canadians could learn something from analyzing the experiences of the two states. Along with legalizing pot, Trudeau has recommended that it be regulated and taxed similar to liquor sales, a sentiment that shows strong support in Canada's liberal and libertarian parties. The opposition to legalization includes not only Canada's Conservative party, but also Canada's own medical authority, Health Canada, a department within the government.
Concerned with confusing the public debate, Health Minister Rona Ambrose has urged doctors “to get on the same page as Health Canada,” to get grounded in medical fact and to avoid sending out “mixed messages.” Having observed that the issue has been deeply politicized, the Health Minister said that the anti-drug campaign doesn't ask physicians for their partisan views on marijuana, but only to consider the long range health effects of the drug. "Telling kids not to smoke marijuana is not politics, it is good public health policy and it's based on science," the Minister said.
With unavoidable ties to the machinations of politics, the mixed message problem has been magnified by the rhetoric of Canada's Liberal Leader and by a series of ads put out by the Conservative Party, critical of Trudeau's call for legalization.
And with charges of politicizing on both sides of the aisle, physicians concerned about being drawn into a political debate are reassessing their involvement in the anti-drug campaign, according to Dr. Andrew Padmos , president of the Royal College.
The idea behind the educational, anti-drug campaign would mean that medical groups would endorse the campaign by having their logos emblazoned on all advertising, aimed mainly at Canada's young people. But now, many doctors are reluctant to join forces with the government-led campaign that is supported by tax payer dollars.
"We know that taxpayers are getting extremely frustrated with the fact that this government tends to use public money for ads that do more for its partisan aims than for actual public service," Trudeau recently said in Saskatoon. The Liberal Leader has complained that Conservatives are using public money to attack him. Canada's Conservative Party has maintained that Trudeau wants to make it easier for children to get the drug.
For growers of medical marijuana, Canada's laws have made it so that only licensed commercial producers were legally able to grow marijuana. Anyone caught growing it without a producers license could get arrested.
But back in March
, Judge Michael Manson issued a temporary injunction to preserve the status quo of medical marijuana user-growers until a constitutional challenge of the new system can be heard. The decision represents a short term setback to the Conservative government’s effort to overhaul this country’s medical marijuana system, which they say is rife with problems.
More about Legalize marijuana, Marijuana, Illegal drugs, Canadian Politics, Health
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