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The Toronto Public Health vice-chair who wrote a defence of recreational cannabis use following the death of a child, saying it could have been cannabis, has responded to the backlash.
In a column for The Sun newspaper, Cathie Brown said she only wanted to “promote discourse”.
The comment sparked anger among users of drugs counsellors and an outcry on social media.
Tensions are running high in Toronto after a police officer was arrested for the fatal shooting of a teen.
Since then, there have been protests calling for the release of the officer, who faces two murder charges.
In her column, Ms Brown said the teenager had been suffering from “severe anxiety” before her death.
Her lungs, she wrote, “may have contained an unusually high concentration of carbon dioxide – a by-product of tetrahydrocannabinol”.
She also said that the child had been “believed to be a youth who frequented social media under the handle Sun Girl Girl”.
Ms Brown suggested her statement was “junk science” – a comment that drew further anger.
The focus on the death of the girl, who Ms Brown said was “under 18” but had not been identified, divided opinion on social media, with those responding feeling that she was trying to make a virtue of the deaths of her fellow drug users.
The Sun later published a separate column from the vice-chair in which she said she had made “multiple phone calls to parents who have lost a child in such a manner”, but as a private citizen.
She wrote that she hoped her column had “ensured that the conversation about addiction is not turned on and off like lights in a room”.