Conservative comparison of pot to fentanyl 'irresponsible': Health minister
Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor on CTV's Question Period.
Published Saturday, November 25, 2017 7:00AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 25, 2017 10:44AM EST
OTTAWA – Conservative MP Peter Kent’s comparison of growing marijuana at home to stocking a shelf with fentanyl is "irresponsible," said Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.
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On Tuesday in the House of Commons during debate on the government’s marijuana legalization bill, Ontario Conservative MP Peter Kent compared growing marijuana at home legally to putting fentanyl on a shelf a kid could reach.
"When it is legal, despite the allowable age to consume, kids will harvest the leaves and experiment. What we are doing is virtually the same as putting fentanyl on a shelf within reach of kids. Having plants in homes is just as wacky, just as unacceptable, and just as dangerous for Canadian society," Kent said.
Weighing in on his comment, Petitpas Taylor said it was the wrong thing to say.
"We are not condoning the use of marijuana, but I think it’s irresponsible for Mr. Kent to make that comparison," Petitpas Taylor said in an interview airing Sunday with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period.
The minister said she wasn’t in the House when Kent made the comment. Restricting youths' access to marijuana is why the government is pursuing a legal regime, she said.
"We know that Canadian children, kids, are consuming cannabis right now… We want to prevent children from having access to cannabis."
The bill would allow adults in Canada to legally possess and use small amounts of recreational marijuana. It sets out the parameters around the production, possession, safety standards, distribution, and sale of marijuana. It also creates new Criminal Code offences for selling marijuana to minors.
The proposed federal law spells out that it will be illegal for anyone younger than 18 to buy pot, but leaves the provinces and territories to set a higher age. The House Health Committee passed a few amendments to the bill this fall, including cutting out the height restriction on homegrown marijuana plants.
During his remarks, Kent also implored the federal government to listen to the police forces and provinces seeking to slow down the rollout. The Liberals are aiming to have legalized marijuana in place in July, 2018.
NDP health critic Don Davies said he was "deeply disturbed" by Kent’s "outrageous and dangerous" comment.
"We respect that there are varying opinions on the merits of cannabis legalization. However, making completely incorrect claims and using Canadians’ deaths for partisan advantage are simply not acceptable," said Davies in a statement issued the day after Kent’s speech in the House.
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said in September that if the federal projections hold, Canada is on track to see 3,000 opioid related deaths in 2017.
There have been no reported deaths from marijuana overdoses in Canada.
Watch Question Period Sunday mornings on CTV, CTV News Channel, CTVNEWS.CA, and CTV News GO at 11 a.m. ET, 10 a.m. CT, 9 a.m. MT and 8 a.m. PT