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Canada forms task force to consult on marijuana legalization

TORONTO - Canada's Liberal government has formed a task force on marijuana legalization that will conduct nationwide consultations before reporting back in November, it said on Thursday.

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TORONTO - Canada's Liberal government has formed a task force on marijuana legalization that will conduct nationwide consultations before reporting back in November, it said on Thursday.

The government said in April it will introduce legislation in the spring of 2017 to legalize the marijuana's recreational use. Medical marijuana is already legal in Canada.

The nine-member task force will be headed by former cabinet minister Anne McLellan, who has headed the health, justice and public safety ministries, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told reporters in Ottawa.

"The task force will engage with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, indigenous people, youth and experts in a wide range of fields," Wilson-Raybould said.

Health Minister Jane Philpott, also at the announcement, said the officials have visited the U.S. state of Colorado, which has legalized recreational marijuana, and "a number of jurisdictions" to study their methods.

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Canada has not yet announced the exact details of legalization, though Wilson-Raybould's parliamentary secretary, Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief who is now the government's legalization point man, said marijuana should not be a plant anyone can grow.

"It is not like a tomato," he said, citing what he says are the drug's harmful effects.

In a subsequent statement, Wilson-Raybould, Philpott and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale reiterated the official stance that unregulated marijuana sales, which have flourished since the Liberals came to power, remain illegal.

They said the federal government "supports" enforcement action, which is usually handled by municipalities.

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