With the country expecting a legalization measure to be sent to parliament in the spring of 2017, Canada has assembled a task force to study the regulation of recreational marijuana. (Chris Roussakis, AFP/Getty Images)

Canada calling: New task force on pot will consult with legal U.S. states

The group of health experts and law enforcement plans to study the regulation of recreational marijuana prior to the likely vote in 2017; online public forums will be available through August

TORONTO — Canada is launching a task force to study the regulation of recreational marijuana ahead of a legalization measure the government plans to send to parliament in the spring of 2017.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had promised to legalize the drug during his 2015 campaign.

Canada’s Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould said Thursday that the task force will help devise a system regulating Canada marijuana production, distribution and sales.

Anne McLellan, who will chair the task force, said they will be consulting with provincial and municipal governments as well as with U.S. states like Colorado and Washington, where recreational marijuana is legal.

McLellan said there’s been a deeper understanding of the marijuana landscape over the past decade.

“I think so many people have come to the conclusion, for so many reasons, that the current situation is not working and we need a better way forward,” she said. “I have myself concluded that legalization with a regulatory regime, such as the task force will be exploring, is the way forward.”

The task force is made up of experts in public health, substance abuse, law enforcement and justice.

The panel, whose recommendations will be made public, will have to report back to the government by November before legislation is introduced in 2017.

The government will also hold an online public consultation that will be open until the end of August.

The legislation will need to be voted on in Canada’s House of Commons, but since the current ruling Liberals hold a majority of seats, the bill is expected to pass.

While it’s still unclear what restrictions will be imposed on marijuana growers, Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, said the government had a responsibility to put in place legislation “to control the production, distribution and the consumption” of pot, especially to keep it out of the hands of children and criminals.

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