Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau went on the counterattack today, reiterating his stance on marijuana use amid claims he wants to make the drug available to young people.

Late last month, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino distributed flyers in his Vaughan riding claiming Trudeau had been speaking at elementary schools about the benefits of marijuana.

“The Liberals want to make buying marijuana a normal, everyday activity for young Canadians,” read the flyer, which was contrasted against the Conservative party’s stance of stopping kids from using marijuana.

Trudeau hit back at the allegations, not only defending his position, but questioning whether Fantino’s approach of criminalized marijuana was more dangerous for youth.

“I’ve been very clear that we need to control and regulate marijuana use to protect our young people from marijuana use,” Trudeau said at a press conference, adding that marijuana sales right now fund criminal organizations.

“I could stand here and ask why Julian Fantino supports the drug trade, why does Julian Fantino support criminal organizations and gangs, but I’m not going to say that,” he said. “What I will say instead is that we need a reasonable conversation about how best to protect our young people.”

Trudeau said his opinion on marijuana use in young people mirrored the World Health Organization’s, and that the impact of marijuana use on developing brains was “problematic.” He also cited a WHO study that said Canada had the highest rate of teen marijuana use among 29 developed countries, which he said the Liberal approach aims to combat through government regulation.

“Our current approach is failing young people and failing to protect them.”

Not the first flyer

Fantino isn’t the only MP to attack Trudeau for his promise to legalize pot. In June, Vancouver MP Wai Young sent out a similar flyer also claiming Trudeau told children pot should be made legal. Members of parliament from Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have also distributed material attacking Trudeau over the issue of marijuana.

Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for the Liberals, called the Conservative flyers a “distortion” based on a visit by Trudeau to a Brandon, Man., school during the recent byelection.

"He responded to a question from the audience about legalization of marijuana, and iterated our position after explaining the dangers of drug use," Ahmad said in an email to the Canadian Press, adding the audience was composed of high school students and adults.

Trudeau claimed taxpayers were becoming frustrated with the Conservative government’s use of public money for ads that “do more for its partisan aims than for actual public service.”

“I believe I’ve offered a concrete solution and I look forward to a debate based on logic and evidence, because I know that’s what Canadian voters want to see.”

With files from the Canadian Press