Marijuana Task Force Faces ‘Fascinating Journey’ in Crafting Legal Framework

Article by Daniel LeBlanc, The Globe and Mail

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Mark Ware was working with patients suffering from a painful blood disease in the late 1990s when he noticed that many of them were self-medicating. The sickle cell anemia research clinic where he was working was in Jamaica, and the pain reliever of choice for a growing number of his patients was cannabis.

The episode put the British-born, Jamaica-raised doctor on the path that has made him a world-renowned expert on the use of cannabis in pain management.

Now based at McGill University in Montreal, Dr. Ware will turn his attention in coming months to the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. As a key member of a new task force, he will help the federal government to create a legal regime for all adult pot users.

“The next six months will be a fascinating journey in understanding a different aspect of cannabis regulation than the medical model,” he said recently in his first media interview since being named vice-chair of the task force.

The government called on former Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan last month to lead a nine-member task force on marijuana legalization and regulation. She was hired because of her political know-how and the expertise she gained as a minister of health, justice and public safety in the 1990s and 2000s.

The panel will provide its findings to the government and the public by November, with new legislation to come in the spring of 2017.

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