Marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn., in 2015. The looming deadline for legalized marijuana has local governments in British Columbia crafting wish lists for provincial legislation, from where pot should be grown to how it should be sold. File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Health ministers to talk cannabis, opioids

Health ministers set to discuss cannabis and opioids during two-day meeting in Edmonton

Canada’s health ministers kick off a two-day meeting in Edmonton today, and topics on the agenda include the ongoing opioid crisis and the pending legalization of cannabis.

Deaths from opioid abuse are expected to surpass 3,000 this year, and the ministers say they need to compare notes on what is working and not working.

Related: Growing marijuana industry sparks new research around cannabis: scientists

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petipas Taylor will join them on Friday to deliver an update on plans to legalize recreational use of cannabis by July 1.

The federal government has set 18 as the minimum legal age, although provinces can set the age higher.

Some ministers say they are concerned, given that studies suggest cannabis can impact brain development in youth and legalizing marijuana can lead to more youth taking up smoking.

Related: Marijuana rules will be ‘a work in progress’

The ministers will also meet with Indigenous leaders, as well as discuss prescription drug reform and a national pharmacare program.

The Canadian Press

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