The minimum age to buy pot should be 21, not 18

Jim Warren


The minimum age to buy and consume recreational marijuana should be set at 21 across Canada.

The new provincial rules on weed should also ban anyone 22 years of age and under from having any trace of marijuana in their body while operating a motor vehicle.

That ban should also apply to anyone with less than five years of driving experience.

These rules should be put in place to protect our children.

They are the most vulnerable to the potential perils of legal marijuana. A minimum age of 21 will help keep marijuana out of our high schools

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in the 2015 election to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. During the campaign he set out a clear position that the Liberals believed the legalization of marijuana for recreational use would better protect children from the illegal drug trade.

He was elected with a mandate to legalize the recreational use of pot, under those terms.

I believe Trudeau would have been elected if he had not promised to legalize marijuana, that it was not a deciding issue in the election.

I’m agonistic about legalization, seeing both positives and negatives.

To me, when the pros equal the cons, the status quo should remain, but Trudeau is keeping his election promise and appointed a task force to study the issue.

He says he will introduce the legislation in Parliament this spring.

The task force recommendation was for a minimum age of 18, but to authorize the provinces to set a higher minimum if they want. Seven of the ten are likely to do so.

The task force considered “adult” use by looking at the age at which a person is legally considered an adult in each jurisdiction. (Generally speaking, 18 or 19 years of age).

At the age of legal adulthood, a person is deemed competent to make informed choice about health risks and other social harms from consumer products.

I acknowledge we do exactly this for alcohol and tobacco, with the legal drinking age in Canada being 19 in seven of 10 provinces, while Canada, Manitoba and Quebec set it at 18.

To me, the main problem with a legal age of 18 is that it means there will be high schoolers for whom pot is legal, mixing with 16 and 17-year-olds for whom it is not.

How are principals and teachers supposed to deal with this?

The problem with a legal pot age of 18 is that we will make it normal for some people in high school to smoke pot, which will inevitably lead to increased use in high schools by children who are underage.

“Science and research support a higher (age) limit,” Andrew Murrie, CEO of MADD Canada told me in an interview last week. “And there should be national standards. Ten different provinces will give you 10 different sets of ages and regulations, which gives you 10 different sets of problems.”

Most provincial politicians I have spoken to were shocked the federal government is setting July, 2018 as the launch date for actual legalization.

They, and the civil servants I know, were not expecting a date so soon.

Most were expecting a 2019 date and I do not believe the provinces are prepared for a July 2018 implementation date.

I also don’t understand the rush to have legal weed in place by then.

Murrie supports strict provincial controls to regulate “grow your own pot” operations, access to minors and the sale and distribution of legal weed. This will take time for the provinces to get right.

Trudeau has a mandate to legalize pot. But his government also has a responsibility to ensure the changes are implemented in the best possible way to protect our youngest and most vulnerable generation of Canadians.

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