Drugs

​Another Public Health Agency Wants Legal Weed Age to Be 25 in Canada

There is a growing consensus from doctors and health officials to keep pot illegal until you are in your mid-20s.
October 12, 2016, 4:10pm

All photos by author

Keep your dealer close, young stoners: another health agency is formally recommending that the minimum age to buy legal marijuana should be 25 once the Liberals' legal pot policy goes into effect.

According to the CBC, among a series of recommendations put forward this summer by Ottawa's public health agency to the Ottawa Board of Health (with a forum scheduled on October 17) is the push to have the legal age to purchase pot set at 25 when it's legalized next year.

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"We wanted to ensure that we're reducing access for youth," Gillian Connelly, manager of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at OPH, told the the CBC.

"One of the things that the research clearly demonstrates is that early access to cannabis can have detrimental effects for brain development, and the brain develops up to age 25."

Connelly says the measure is just one of many recommendations to reduce youth access to marijuana, and to decrease the issue of unauthorized distribution through unlicensed dispensaries. Connelly also said that the age limit must be nation-wide when implemented, and "must be coupled with rigorous enforcement and penalties for violations in order to be effective."

This news comes after years of debate about the effect marijuana has on developing brains, and contesting opinions about whether 25 is being far too conservative considering the demographics that actually use pot (young people mostly). Despite many who argue that drugs like tobacco and alcohol—both of which can be purchased at 18 and 19 respectively—are more harmful, the Canadian Medical Association has stood behind the 21 age limit, similar to alcohol in the US.

While the Trudeau government has yet to make a statement on the debate around legal age for pot, both Trudeau and Health Minister Jane Philpott have stated that they are taking their time on the legislation to prevent illegal pot from remaining after it goes legal. This has involved the Liberals refusing to decriminalize possession and sale of the drug in the time between—a move that has caused some controversy.

Earlier this year, a survey showed that Canadian doctors were vastly divided on their opinion of an appropriate legal age—with 30 percent agreeing with 18 or 19, around 25 percent agreeing with 21, and only 20 percent agreeing with the 25 suggestion being pushed by OPH.

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