Pubdate: Thu, 26 Sep 2002
Source: Burnaby Now, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: John Gordon



In your Sunday, Sept. 15 editorial, 'Pot debate misses mark,' it should be 
noted that the senators themselves suggested 16 as a starting point in the 
debate. Clearly, it has agitated public opinion more than other 
recommendations in their report.

The average age of introduction to cannabis is 15 and use is highest in 
ages 16 to 24. The committee's report accepts reality. Your concern about 
youths mixing cannabis with school is a scenario already happening, for 
which the senators describe as heavy or excessive use, meriting interdiction.

Society accepts 16 as the driving age, where young people are deemed 
responsible for making decisions that can be life-threatening, e.g., turn 
left in front of the fast-approaching big truck. In comparison, choosing to 
use cannabis, in moderation, in the appropriate time and setting, is minor.

At 16, people can be responsible enough to not use it when driving, at 
school or work or any other socially inappropriate time.

If the age of cannabis consent finally settles at 18, and the average age 
of introduction remains the same, for three years the young people have 
been obtaining their cannabis from sources outside of the regulated market, 
exposing them to cannabis that hasn't been government-inspected, nor limits 
the sale to only cannabis. Dealers offering cannabis to the pre-of-age 
teens may offer an enticing assortment of harder drugs, like alcohol or 
cocaine. It is better to accept a certain reality that some 16-year-olds 
will seek cannabis and have them go through regulated channels.

In Sweden and native reservations where cannabis is prohibited, curious 
teens opt for solvents or alcohol. David Malmo Levine even credits cannabis 
as preventing his teenage suicide.

The senators aimed at rigour and transparency, succeeding admirably.

John Gordon

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