OTTAWA—Canada should immediately boost spending on intensive public education and research into the impacts of marijuana and not wait until 2018 , says the co-chair of Ottawa’s pot task force.

Dr. Mark Ware, a professor in family medicine and anesthesia at McGill University, told a drug policy conference in Ottawa that a bill to overhaul Canada’s marijuana law is just the first step of what he predicts will be an “unbelievably deep and tangled web” with provinces, territories and municipalities who will be responsible for much of the scheme.

Meanwhile, Ware said, “research and education needs to be provided. This is something I’m still pushing for.”

“I haven’t felt, yet, that we have capacity to support this kind of legislative change in terms of measuring and understanding what the impact of this is on individual health and on public health.”

Ware was among dozens of experts at a conference on the future of drug policy in Canada looking at medium- and long-term recommendations for policy-makers.

But Ware had advice for the short term.

Canada needs a “lot more infrastructure” to support the nests of “very good researchers around the country,” who are studying plant sciences, pharmacology, and clinical research as well as policy, “but they’re not well connected and we’re not talking to one another,” said Ware.

He said for the legalization policy “to be rolled out and be implemented effectively and to respond to the realities that we get when it’s launched, we need that network to be in place.

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