As the year starts to wind down there is still lots to do for the Canadian government to meet their deadline of having marijuana legalized by April of 2017 – and the Canadian Medical Association (the largest association of physicians in the country) has made their recommendations on how they think it would be best to move forward. If it were up to the CMA, the legal age for marijuana consumption would be 25 – but they have stated that knowing that is unrealistic they suggest 21 as the minimum legal age.
While they do suggest that waiting until age 21 would help young adults avoid turning to criminal action (because let’s face it, at 21 you should be allowed to make your own health decisions and many disregard these restrictions anyway and risk facing the potential consequences of breaking the law), they have also stated that there should be restrictions on the amount and the potency of the cannabis that can be sold to adults under the age of 25. This would mean if you are between the ages of 21 and 24 you would only be allowed to purchase low THC cannabis in smaller quantities.
They have also suggested that unlike the drinking age – which can vary from province to province – that they should make the legal age to consume cannabis a national one. That way there is never confusion at borders between two municipalities. However, they allow the legal age for alcohol consumption to be determined by individual provinces and in some places the legal drinking age is as low as 19 years old – and yet there is no worry about health hazards involved with alcohol while your brain is developing? Yet cannabis shouldn’t be allowed until the age of 25? It just doesn’t make much sense.
“Legalization and strict regulation of marijuana for recreational use seeks to reduce health and social harms, particularly in higher risk groups; however, with the increased access, there could be an inverse effect, with the potential that harms could be intensified. There is also the considerable risk that the degree of ‘normalization’ of use that already exists could increase.”
Along with recommending that the minimum age be restricted access at age 21 and full access at age 25, the CMA also made a series of other suggestions for the marijuana task force including creating a pilot program of sorts – that way laws can easily be tweaked and removed before and after implementing the original law. After a set number of years they would be able to put finalized laws into place. Another suggestion was to ban generally high potency products like cookies that could result in harm to children as well as not permitting home cultivation, public use and prohibiting advertising and marketing in a way that is similar to the restrictions on cigarettes.
While the Canadian Medical Association has not made the move to either endorse or reject the idea of legalization, they are at least offering their opinions in as honest of a way as possible. From a medical standpoint, they don’t feel comfortable allowing adults under 25 to consume cannabis – however they are also being realistic in their suggestion of starting with a minimum age of 21, which is in line with every state in the U.S. that has legalized adult use of cannabis so far. Of course, these are all merely the suggestions of the CMA, which will influence the task force report due at the end of November – but as of right now none of this is anywhere close to final – so we will have to wait and see where the Canadian government takes this information in the future.