UPDATE: Bill Blair contradicts Jane Philpott; says pot activists won’t be on marijuana task force

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As the federal government puts together a task force on marijuana legalization, Health Minister Jane Philpott isn’t saying no to pot activists taking part.

“I’m not ruling anything out,” Philpott said from the Liberal cabinet retreat in Kananaskis, Alberta on Monday.

But Philpott also made a point of saying experts would come from more conventional categories.

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“It’ll be experts as I said in the past, in health care, experts in addiction care, public safety and justice,” she said. “Those’ll be the main categories that we’re looking at.”

But on Tuesday, the MP leading the government’s consultations on marijuana said activists will have different opportunities to be heard when asked if activists had a place on the task force.

“I’ve assured those activists that their voices will be heard and they’ll have an opportunity to provide their input to the task force, but the task force is primarily focussed on the science and the evidence and the best advice of experts that we can get going forward,” Parliamentary Secretary to the Justice Minister Bill Blair said.

READ MORE: Organized crime ‘may infiltrate’ pot regime, federal paper warns

Longtime pot activist Jodie Emery has sent a letter to Philpott and other cabinet ministers as well Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requesting a spot on the task force.

Last week, the Liberals announced legalization legislation is coming in 2017.

“The government would never draft legislation on farming, immigration or gay rights without consulting experts in those fields,” Emery told Global News in an interview.

Emery is editor of Cannabis Culture and married to Marc Emery, the so-called “Prince of Pot”.

He was jailed in the U.S. for five years for selling marijuana seeds. Jodie Emery says that experience should inform the discussion around legalization in Canada.

“I spent five years having to endure being alone,” Emery said. “I’ve experienced hardship prohibition laws put many Canadians through.”

READ MORE: Canada to introduce pot legalization legislation in 2017

Philpott says members of the legalization task force will be announced soon.

“We’ve had some great recommendations and we’re just kind of trying to get some confirmations from people,” she said.

“It’s going to be a great group.”

With a file from Leslie Whyte, Global News

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