The National Post reports…

It will consult experts and others on a framework for the proposed legislation, including how to regulate and tax the drug. The panel will be asked to report back by the first week of November, sources say, as the government hopes to table its legislation in the spring.

The decision to have McLellan lead the effort is being applauded, given her unique experience in previous Liberal governments from 1993 to 2006. During that time, she served as minister of justice and minister of health under Jean Chretien, before Paul Martin made her Canada’s first public safety minister.

Those three departments are now responsible for coming up with the government’s proposed scheme for legalizing marijuana.

“Anne McLellan is the only former minister who has held all three portfolios that are relevant for this file,” said one industry representative. “It’s a good source in terms of someone with an understanding of all three departments.”

But while she indicated a willingness to debate decriminalization or legalization while serving as justice minister in 2001, she also described marijuana as a “dangerous substance” in 2005.

“We know it is a more potent carcinogen than smoke tobacco,” she said in an interview in March 2005, as the federal Liberals considered whether to make legalization official party policy. “That’s what the research tells us. That’s irrefutable. That’s science.”

NDP justice critic Murray Rankin welcomed news that the task force is being established, saying movement on the pot file is long overdue. “My first reaction is that it’s about time, and I’m glad there’s finally action on this,” he said.

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Anne McLellan